How to Write a Follow-up Email After No Response (With Sample Emails)

“​​Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” 

— Michelle Moore

Your prospects are busy. Period. They need time to think about the product or service on offer.

Or they just might not be ready to buy at the present moment. Whatever it may be, a sales rep must never take “no” for an answer.

Following up with your prospects is like cooking a pufferfish. When not done right, it can turn catastrophic to your business.

A study by Harvard Business Review found that 56% of prospects complain about poor follow-ups. Almost 48% of prospects who experienced a poor follow-up will go on to tell at least 10 people or more about their bad experience.

In this post, we cover everything about sending follow-up emails to your prospects – from having a defined strategy to the different existing techniques. And cover 13 unique follow-up email templates you can use.

What is a follow-up email?

It is an email sent to a prospect who has been contacted earlier by the sales rep either through an email, a phone conversation, an online demonstration, or even an in-person sales pitch.

The idea is to provide value in every single follow-up email.

Remember to keep the prospect as the focus of your email and explain what’s in it for the prospects to associate with you – in your follow-up emails.

You can do this by sending useful resources like valuable research papers, webinar invites, or case studies.

Keep experimenting with your email copy regularly.

Try addressing different pain points, provide social proof, include testimonials/success stories, etc.

Now after doing all this, your emails landing on their spam folders is a huge bummer. Isn’t it?

Make sure you avoid spam filters to make the most out of your effort.

Infographic image of How to write a follow-up email

How to write a follow-up email after no response

There are two strategies that you can adopt while crafting your follow-up email. One is to use the time-based sequence, while the other (more effective way) is to use an intent-based sequence.

Option 1: Following up based on time 

When you follow up based on time, there are no hard and fast rules on how to go about it. This is because, in the past, the gospel truth of following up was to achieve a minimum of 7 touch-points with a steady gap between every touchpoint. The famous ‘Rule of Seven’ developed by marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a testament to this. To penetrate a market, he says that one has to consistently reach a prospect at least seven times.

Image of a sample time based follow up email sequence

But things have changed today. The norm now is to have at least 15 touchpoints in 27 days. The Agoge sequence is a classic example of this strategy which uses the spray and pray approach to follow up. To the uninitiated, an Agoge sequence is an outreach method that uses a simple, formula-based approach to increase conversion rates in outbound sales. This method involves sending messages in high volumes and in high frequency through specific touchpoints like social media, email, and calls to drive customer engagement.

How to follow up using the time-based sequence?

Follow-up with prospects 15 times is never going to be easy. But the trick is to be pleasantly persistent. The frequency of a follow-up email totally depends on the purpose of your email and the characteristics of your prospects (which you’ll know if you’ve mapped out your buyer persona well).

Timing the follow-up emails is tricky. Too frequent and you are bound to be flagged as spam. Too much gap, your prospect may forget who you are. So tread carefully. Do some trial and error, find out what works for your business.

Drawback of time-based sequence

The biggest drawback of the time-based approach is that it gives equal attention to all prospects irrespective of which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in.

  • These emails, sent back to back, are irrelevant to all the prospects
  • You’ll be missing out on opportunities to reach highly engaged prospects
  • Reps would be wasting their time executing the same set of activities for all the prospects – who may or may not convert

Related: You can find additional templates at Follow-up Email Templates. This is the ultimate guidebook that comprises best-performing email templates and subject lines, tried and tested by industry experts.

Option 2: Following up based on intent

An intent-based sequence works on this simple concept – your outreach should be based on the prospects’ buyer journey (see the fig. below). Your messaging should be both relevant and personalized based on their interest levels.

a hand sketched image of a buyer's journey from the first thought to buying itself

Source: Bob Moesta’s Buyer Journey model in his “Demand-Side Sales Model” book.

Prospects go through different stages before making a purchase. Some prospects are already looking for a solution. These are the ones with higher buying intent and are very easy to target. All you have to do is reach out at the right time and you have your meeting.

But there are others who are not so further along in the buying journey. They may be experiencing the problem you solve, but solving the problem may not be a priority at the time for them. In other words, they are not active solution seekers.

If you are using the same sales cadence for all of your prospects (falling in both these buckets), you’ll be just spraying and praying. Because there is no single cadence that can resonate with all of your prospects who are at different stages of intent.

And no, adding 17 different steps does not qualify you as a sales hacker, rather a sales harasser at best, because you’re irritating prospects by blindly hammering out a set of activities dictated by a cadence that does not resonate with them.

Prospects, who are interested in buying from you, send out certain “intent” signals indicating they want to buy products like yours. Salespeople should identify these “intent” signals and pursue such prospects with more vigor. Once these signals are captured, you can frame your follow-up sequence that is tailored to a particular pain point.

What are “intent” signals?

You can define what forms ‘intent’ signals for your business. Common intent signals include email engagement rates – like open rates, reply rates, link clicks to websites or downloadables, and even engagement metrics on LinkedIn. Any or a combination of these could be identified to determine the level of intent a prospect has to buy your product or service. The people who show higher intent have a higher probability of converting.

Advantages of Intent-Based Sequence over the time-based sequence

  1. Intent-based sequence is the peak of personalization since the content of the email is highly relevant to its reader.
  2. Intent-based email follow-ups are buyer-centric. Putting the prospects’ needs first (whether they’re ready to purchase, or window shopping) will reduce opt-outs, and boost your conversions.
  3. With more prospects being engaged with content that is relevant to them, reps will be able to book more meetings, and will no longer suffer missed opportunities.

How to send intent-based follow-up emails?

Organize your tasks in three steps:

Analyze and Gather Intent Data

The first step in any intent-based sequence is to identify what kind of signals to capture. While trying to make an informed buying decision, most prospects will usually perform a set of activities like checking out your website, your competitors’, clicking on the links in your email, reading your email, forwarding them to colleagues, and researching your company etc.

It is completely dependent on your business to define what action taken by the prospect can be counted as intended. Just remember one thing: Not only should it be indicative of the prospect’s buying behavior, but it should also be measurable. Email engagement metrics is a good starting point to gather intent data.

  • Email open rates,
  • Email link clicks to website, downloadable, video views, blog visits, pricing page visits, etc,.

By gathering the data points based on their interaction with your business, you can ascertain which prospects are more likely to respond and have a higher chance of converting.

Assign a Score

Next, in order to be able to classify the said intent as high, medium, or low, you can assign scores to prospects based on the actions taken by them or intent data. For example, if a particular prospect has engaged more with your business – clicked on several links, and has downloaded a white paper you can assign them a higher “intent score”. And another prospect has just read a blog (that you had sent in an email) once, then you can assign a lower ‘intent score’ to that person. Those with higher intent levels have a higher chance of converting, while the ones on the other end of the spectrum have low chances of conversion.

Create Sequences based on Intent

Now that you have assigned different scores for your prospects, your sales teams can effectively segregate them based on intent. Prospects that have the highest scores must be the ones your sales teams ideally should prioritize and focus on. Your teams must tailor sales cadences and personalize the follow-up emails to the prospects who have higher intent.

The prospects with low intent scores can have standard automated email follow-ups assigned to them. This will save time and optimize your sales process.

Execute intent-based sequence using Klenty’s Sales Playbook

Klenty’s Sales Playbook will help your sales team book more appointments and crush quotas with the help of an intent-driven outreach process. It empowers your teams to close more deals with less effort and time by following a buyer-centric approach.

You can use Klenty Sales Playbook to automatically:

Detect: Analyze and classify your prospects according to different levels of intent.

Classify: Assign different cadences based on intent.

Prioritize: Focus your team’s efforts on prospects with the highest intent. Utilize automated follow-ups for low intent prospects.

By using Playbook you can build a repeatable sales process that will help your reps book more meetings.

Looking for more ideas to personalize your follow-ups?

Best 160+ subject lines for your email campaign

Check out our ebook that gives you 160+ attention grabbing subject lines.

13 Techniques to Send a Follow-up Email (with examples)

Here are 13 techniques that can help you craft your next follow-up email template.

1. Follow-up Email using a Trigger Event

As a sales development rep, it is always a good idea to keep an eye out for triggers that you can mention in your follow-up emails – such as recent fundraise, media coverage, winning a large deal or hiring a key position.

All these triggers help your cold follow-up get more personalized and boost email response rates.

Sample follow-up email:

Congratulations on the recent fundraise! It was inspiring to learn about your story and the company.

What are your plans around lead generation using outbound prospecting? I believe that we can help you build a predictable and scalable lead generation channel for {{Company}}

2. Follow-up Email with a Pain Point

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and empathize with the pain points they may face. Now pick just one major pain-point and center your email around it. Explain how your solution can help with this pain-point.

Sample follow-up email:

Subject: How many hours did you spend on employee onboarding this month?

Hey {{Prospect Name}}

As a founder trying to grow your business, do you find yourself spending too much time training each hire in your team?

We provide an easy way to automate employee onboarding – saving you several hours every time you hire a new employee.

This email focuses on one key pain – time spent on onboarding and keeps the focus around it. Similarly, you can use a subsequent follow-up email to talk about another pain point.

What should a follow-up email to a prospect who has not replied to your email look like?

Get that and 50 more email templates. For free!

Best follow up email templates for different scenarios

3. Follow-up Email with Interesting Content

Think about what your prospect might be interested in reading.

Sharing an interesting blog post or a valuable research paper in your follow-up email can add value to your prospect. For example, try sending a link to some insightful article that was recently published in their industry.

Sample follow-up email:

Hey {{Prospect Name}}

Came across this interesting blog post recently on how Agencies can use Instagram to attract more talent. I thought you might find it useful – it has loads of actionable insights.

On another note, we help companies onboard employees and turn them into rock star performers. Is this something you would like to learn more about?

4. The Terse Follow-up

John Barrows talks about a creative follow-up idea for prospects who have gone completely dark on you – especially after showing some initial interest.

Let’s say you have sent 4-5 follow-up emails and have not yet received a response, here is an idea to try out. Send a new follow-up with no additional content in the email body – but with a new subject line.

Just keep a trail (thread) of all the previous emails you have sent the person and in the subject line, just say:

Sample follow-up email:

Did I lose you?

The beauty of this approach is that it keeps the focus completely on the subject and those 4 words. If there are prospects who have been intending to get back and need another nudge getting over the line, then this might do the trick – especially towards the end of your follow-up.

5. Follow-up Email with a Benefit

Sometimes it may be tempting to write an email with a laundry list of 4-5 benefits that your solution offers. Hold off on that temptation.

A much better strategy would be to use just one benefit for each follow-up email that you send. It makes it much easier for your prospect to grasp. Here is an example:

Sample follow-up email:

I have a time-saving approach that could dramatically reduce the time you need to invest in bookkeeping and allows you to focus on running your business. If this matters to you, I can explain more over a 15-minute call.

It is simple. Offers just one benefit. The email does not talk about your product or company or even yourself. It focuses on just one benefit that you can get and compels you to respond if you care about it.

6. Follow-up Email using Social Proof

As you plan your email sequence, you may devote one of your follow-up emails to providing social proof.

Sample follow-up email:

Hey {{FirstName}}

Freshtrip, Intercom and Autopilot, three of the fastest-growing SaaS startups in the bay area use us to find new leads every day.

I suspect that we could be helpful for {{Company}} as well. Can we schedule some time to talk next week?

7. Follow-up Email using Testimonials

Like social proof, testimonials make for another interesting touch that may be used to add some credibility to your offering.

Sample follow-up email:

Hi {{FirstName}}

In case you are still on the fence about whether automated prospecting makes sense for you, I wanted to share a few quotes on what our customers are saying about us:

“{{Company}} is now the backbone of our sales prospecting process” – VP Demand Gen at {{CompanyName}}, a leading digital marketing firm

“The prospector works like a charm and integrates beautifully with our CRM to keep all the data in sync.” {{Customer Name}},VP Sales at {{Customer Company}}

Intrigued why so many salespeople love to use {{My Product Name}}? We should talk!

Follow-ups like these do much more than putting your previous email back to the top of your prospect’s inbox. They also convey confidence and social proof. It tells a story about your brand.

8. Follow-up Email sharing a Graph

You can share a graph showing the impact you were able to make to some of your customers. For example, if you are an SEO agency, then you may use a template like this:

Sample follow-up email:

Subject: Hey {{Prospect Name}}

I wrote a few days ago about how we can help you grow traffic to your page through search engine ranking.

Still on the fence? Here is a google analytics snapshot of how we were able to help one of our customers grow organic traffic 5x in less than 6 months.

Snapshot of a Google Analytics traffic graph

I took a quick look at your site and I believe that we can achieve similar in the next 3-6 months for {{Company}}.

This is a powerful email that conveys in a picture what you were able to achieve for a similar prospect. It allows your prospect to drink in the graph and imagine what a similar graph would do for their business.

9. Follow-up Email using Humor

The surest shot way to stand out among the hundreds of emails that your prospect receives every day is to add a dash of humor. If you can make your prospect smile, then you are one step closer to making them like you.

But as always, make sure that this is appropriate for your target audience. Twitter and LinkedIn are good places to get a sense of the type of content that your prospects engage with and to see if funny content is something that they will appreciate.

Adding funny GIFs, images and videos is a quick way to insert some humor into your follow-up emails. For example, this video from Funnybizz uses humor to spice up a follow-up email.

Or this Cookie Monster gif to indicate that you are still waiting for a reply to your previous email:

follow up email giphy

10. Follow-up Email with a Customized Image

By now your prospects might have suspected that you’re using some form of technology to regularly follow-up.

So, how do you convince them that this is a customized email written exclusively for them?

Here is a brilliant example of what Freshdesk did. They sent a personalized email. But inserted inline with the email content is an image with the prospect’s company name – in this case, TimeDoctor.

It should not be too difficult to create this picture once and customize it every time with a new prospect’s logo using a tool like Canva or Photoshop. But it definitely stands out and creates a memorable impression on your prospect.

11. Follow-up Email with a Competitive Insight

One of the fastest ways to shoot to the top of your prospects’ minds is to share something their competitors announced and reference that in your email.

For example, if you are prospecting to a list of players in the user onboarding industry, then you may want to use a template such as this one here:

Sample follow-up email:

Subject: Did you check out the new onboarding book by Intercom?

Hi {{FirstName}}

Did you check out the latest e-book from Intercom on User Onboarding? Clearly, the user onboarding space is gaining a lot of attention and is tipping into the mainstream with several new ideas and products.

Now is the time for companies like {{Company}} to capture the momentum and pitch your differentiated take on onboarding.

This template combines multiple elements to deliver a winning email. It uses a recent trigger, references, competition, provides value and delivers a customized message that should be compelling to the recipient.

12. Follow-up Email After a Meeting

If you just finished a meeting with a prospective buyer who is a good match for your company’s services, it’s time to keep up the momentum of this meeting with a follow-up.

Sending a follow-up email that recaps the conversation and proves useful to your prospective customer is a great way to keep the relationship moving forward. Here’s an example:

Sample Follow-up Email:

Hi {{Prospect Name}}

It was great meeting you today. I really enjoyed learning more about {{Prospect company}} and your goals for this year.

We’ve worked with quite a few companies that have encountered {{specific challenge}}, so I understand how difficult it could be to {{whatever the challenge stops them from doing}}.

Here’s a case study on how we’ve helped a previous client overcome the same challenge before – I thought it might be helpful for you to see how another company in the {{industry}} solved it.

I also thought I’d recap a few important points from our meeting today, let me know if I missed out on anything.

  1. Your key priorities (2-3 goals)
  2. Parameters for success (2-3 benchmarks)
  3. How {{your offering}} can help (address the above-mentioned pain-points)

Please let me know if you have any questions again, happy to help always! Looking forward to catching up with you again on {{predetermined meeting day/time}}, for another round of discussion.

Best,

13. Breakup Email

This is one strategy that has been written about a lot and is used a little too often these days. But it is still often effective. It usually reminds the user that you have emailed a few times – but didn’t get a response. And that you plan to stop following up.

Sample follow-up email:

Hey {{FirstName}}

I have written a few times on helping {{Company}} acquire new leads using Linkedin. But there is a thin line between persistently following-up and flooding your inbox with more emails.

Could you hit reply and let me know 1 / 2 / 3 so that it helps me know whether to close your file?

  1. This could be useful for us – let’s setup time next week.
  2. This is not a good time – call back in a couple of months.
  3. I have no use for this. Please don’t follow-up anymore.

Feel free to let me know and I can plan accordingly.

This email makes it easy for the prospect to hit reply and let you know a single number. It also shows some empathy and that you don’t wish to flood their mailbox with more follow-ups.

With all this, there are stuff you are supposed to strictly avoid doing. A few common mistakes can be easily overlooked but can have deadly consequences. Know what the common mistakes people tend to make when they start inside sales email campaigns.

Related: You can find additional templates at Follow-up Email Templates. This is the ultimate guidebook that comprises best-performing email templates and subject lines, tried and tested by industry experts.

Do’s and don’ts

Do this when writing a follow-up email

1. Always decide the objective before sending the email

Before crafting your follow-up emails, it is essential to identify ‘what you wish to achieve’ from the emails. Is it getting them to purchase, or just reminding them about your previous email, or just to educate them? Never send an email without a goal.

2. Create a killer subject line

A good subject line is the cornerstone of any email, including a follow-up email. 47% of recipients choose whether to open an email based on the subject line alone.  A good subject line does a multitude of things such as communicating value, piquing interest, and building trust in your product/service.

3. Jog the recipient’s memory

63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. This means the purpose of your follow-up email is to ​remain at the top of your prospect’s inbox and seek their attention constantly, so they don’t forget about your existence. Keep emphasizing and providing context around your initial communication via email or any other interaction. This will help jog their memory and make it easier for them to proceed along the buying journey.

4. Diversify your touches

Email can be the foundation of your outreach but not your only foot-soldier. Try calling them, sending a social-media request or leaving a voice message in between your follow-up emails. A multichannel approach generates awareness and interest among your prospects.

5. Optimize it for the mobile phone

A whopping 55% of email is opened on mobile phones – so, make sure your mails are “mobile-friendly” with 3-4 crisp sentences as against large walls of text.

6. Keep your Call-to-Action (CTA) highly specific

Sending a crystal-clear Call-To-Action (CTA) with a specific time and date such as “5 pm on Saturday this week?” always works better than a generic CTA.

Don’t do this when writing a follow-up email

1. Write long emails

By writing long and winding follow-up emails, you might risk confusing your prospects and diverting their attention to unnecessary details that might jeopardize your sale. Ensure that your follow-up emails have around three lines of body copy and around 50-125 words. A study by Boomerang shows that emails of this length had over 50% response rates.

2. Repeat the same email you wrote last time

If your previous follow-up email did not receive a response from your prospect, it is not wise to spam their inbox by repairing the same message over and over. Instead, maybe consider why your previous email was ignored and find another way to provide your prospect some value. This will ensure that you do not annoy them, and instead, help them.

3. Be pushy

A lack of replies may lead to some salespeople being even more pushy and aggressive. This is extremely ineffective and can be a death knell to your sales process. Always be calm, positive, and professional while trying to add value to your prospects. Ensure that you give them adequate space so that they can make a buying decision without any added pressure or guilt.

4. End your email without a CTA

Your CTAs in your follow-up emails outline the action you want the prospect to take after reading them. When you ignore the CTA,  you risk not telling your prospect what you want them to do as the next step in the buying journey. So ensure that you add a CTA, but more importantly, it is clear, specific, and time-bound. Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%.

Conclusion

Confidence and charisma are two of the most admired traits of a good salesperson. There’s one more aspect that all salespeople are known for – persistence. Follow-up emails are the best way to show your persistence to everyone around you. Use the power of an intent-based sequence to target the right prospects with the right message. Remember the mantra – strike an optimum balance between sending attention-grabbing follow-up emails and driving your prospect crazy with incessant messages. And if you haven’t started following up with your prospects yet, the time cannot be more ripe.

As Michelle Moore from Selling Simplified says –

“Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.”

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