What to do when prospects don’t respond to emails

Guest Post by Jake Jorgovan, founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout.

We’ve all been there.

We find a prospect who would be a perfect fit and craft the perfect email sequence to catch their attention.

We reach out with confidence that they will respond, and then…

*Crickets*

crickets

 

We follow up once, twice, three times, eight times or more with still no response.

You could give up, but for you this prospect means something.

Maybe you are in a finite industry with a limited number of prospects.

Or, maybe this is a dream client that would be your largest sale of the year.

In this post, I am going to share with you the lessons I have learned from running an outbound sales company and what to do when your prime prospects are unresponsive to your emails.

1) Analyze your approach

The first thing you must do before considering any of the other suggestions in this post is to evaluate your approach.

Chances are, if you have gone through a full series of follow ups and are still getting no responses, then your approach may be flawed.

To analyze your approach, first check out Ryan’s book on Cold Emailing.

Also, I would recommend Jill Konrath’s incredible book Selling to Big Companies to give you more insight to how these decision makers think.

Open up your email you sent to prospects and read it from the prospect’s viewpoint. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this email catch my attention from the first subject line?
  • Does this email come from someone credible?
  • Is answering this email going to benefit me or the salesperson sending it?
  • Does this email clearly and concisely demonstrate the value that I will receive in my business?
  • Is this email short enough that I will actually read it amidst my busy day? (Less than 160 words)
  • Does this email intrigue me?
  • Does this email sound canned?
  • Is the request at the end of this email clear and simple to fulfill?

Analyze your email against these questions in the eye of your receiver, and you may just find the lack of response has been in your approach all along.

2) Try other forms of digital connection

The truth is that in today’s busy world, many people have grown to hate their inboxes. Recently, I sat down for a working session with one of my clients who is the CEO of a rapidly growing company.

Inbox (3,452)

Yep, over 3,000 unread emails in his inbox.

Seeing this gave me insight into his world. As the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, he was simply overwhelmed and only had the time to answer the absolutely essential emails.

He is what Jill Konrath calls ‘A frazzled customer’ and in today’s digital world, more and more customers are becoming just like him.

This means that sometimes, email just doesn’t cut it.

So what does work then?

Well, it often depends on the client so you may have to try several different avenues.

Try a LinkedIn message

This is an obvious one and it is where most salespeople start. Sometimes this works, but the truth is a lot of people aren’t active on their LinkedIn.

As salespeople, we struggle to believe this because we are on LinkedIn everyday, but for decision makers who are not in sales, they may only check this platform once a month and have turned off email notifications.

Linkedin is a powerful tool, but be aware your message may never even make it to your decision maker.

Engage with them on twitter

It is pretty easy to tell if your decision maker is active on twitter. If so, this can be a good channel to build some initial name recognition and get in the door.

Start by browsing through their feed and look for tweets you can favorite, retweet, or reply to.

Look for something that you can play off of to start a conversation. Asking a question is always a great way to get engagement.

There is no magical script to this, just try to get them engaged and start a conversation that you can eventually grow into something bigger.

Direct Messages with Instagram Videos

If your prospective customers have Instagram accounts for their company or they are publicly active with their personal accounts, then direct messages on Instagram can be extremely powerful.

With Instagram, you can record a 15 second video for the prospect, and send a message of unlimited length. The prospect doesn’t even have to be following you.

When you do this, it does go to an ‘Other’ inbox for messages from people they don’t follow, although they still receive a notification and will get your message.

I have used this tactic time and time again to break into consumer facing brands and up and coming startups.

Facebook Messages to Brands

Especially if you are in marketing, this can be a great way to get through to the marketing team. Often you will find that a marketing manager runs their Facebook page and is responsible for many different aspects of the company’s marketing initiatives.

It’s worth a shot as you will be surprised as to what comes from it. When you send your message, refer back to the same cold email practices I mentioned earlier in this book.

If you don’t catch their attention, then it will still fall on deaf ears.

Oh, and don’t send your decision maker a personal Facebook message unless you already know them, that’s just creepy.

Text their cell phone

This method should only be used in the case that you have had some engagement with a prospect and they have now gone cold. Warning: Do not do this with a prospect who you have never spoken to yet or they have not given you their phone number.

Texting should be reserved only for situations where you have had a phone call or been given the prospect’s phone number.   Warning: If you jump the gun on this contact method, you may come off as a bit of a stalker.

But for prospects with whom you’ve had contact, this can be a great way to cut through the clutter and get their attention.

Send them a personalized video

Turn on your webcam and record a short 30-90 second video that clearly explains your value proposition. When leaving these messages, a great framework to use is Jill Konrath’s voicemail frameworks from ‘Selling to Big Companies’

  1. Establish credibility in the first 1-2 sentences.
  2. Demonstrate the value you can bring to the prospect by projecting what you believe you could do based on your research, or by sharing success stories from past clients who were similar.
  3. Make a simple ask for a 5-10 minute meeting to talk further.

These personal videos take time, but this is a step above and beyond that can win the decision maker over.

Have fun and send them an eCard

I had a prospect go cold on me after some initial interest. Ten follow ups and I heard nothing back from him.

So one day, I sent him the card below.

card

Within 20 minutes he had replied and introduced me to the person I needed to talk to in order to move the sale forward.

Sometimes you need to do something a little different to catch your decision maker’s attention.

3) Stand out, be unique and send them a physical package

If this prospect really means that much to you, then you may have to go above and beyond digital outreach. At Outbound Creative, this is what my company specializes in, and it works wonders.

We operate on one core principle: If you want to get someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

How we won the business of a client who was completely unresponsive to digital outreach

For one of my clients, they had a prime prospect who was unresponsive to emails, LinkedIn and social media.

So we sent them a cake. On top of that cake were the words ‘Go to [custom url].’

That custom URL took the prospect to a personal landing page with a personal video made just for them. We used the script described above from the Jill Konrath’s voicemails, and it worked wonders.

cake

 

Within 48 hours of receiving the cake, we had a positive response from the CEO of the company and were introduced to the individual they would be working with.

Digital didn’t work for this prospect. In a world of so much noise, their messages didn’t cut through the clutter.

But a personalized cake and video, well that did…

Think outside of the box

One of my best clients to date came because I had a bit of fun with reaching out to them. The client was an expat living in Japan who had a very profitable and growing business. I wanted to win him as a client and knew he had a decent sense of humor.

So I sent him a message in a bottle…

bottle

Inside the bottle was a piece of paper with a custom URL.  That URL took him to this humorous video that features a personal message from me with some absolutely amazing intro music…

 

Keith was blown away. This video lead to a great phone call which lead to Keith becoming a paid client of Outbound Creative.

The bottom line

There are many reasons why your prospects may not be responding to your emails.

First, check your messaging to ensure that your value proposition and messaging is worthy of a response.

If you are confident in your emails and still see no response, begin trying other forms of digital engagement.

And lastly, if you still have no response but want to win their business, try a physical package and stand out and be unique.

Some clients will still resist, but if you hit them from all of these different angles you have a better chance than just relying on email.

Break from your normal routine, and try something different this week.

Because if you want to win someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

Jake Jorgovan is the founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout. Outbound Creative helps agencies win their dream clients through eye-catching outreach. Prospect Scouts helps sales leaders close more deals by researching prospects for them.

 

Asking For an Email Introduction

image

I get asked by lots of folks to make intros to others in my network.  With more connections to nurture than physically possible, I actually enjoy making intros.  Why?

  1. Introductions give me an opportunity to check in with a connection without sending a weak ‘just checking in’ email that wastes everyone’s time.
  2. Introductions give me a chance to position myself to either party as a benefactor.  Unquantified reciprocity is the new quid pro quo.
  3. Introductions are a way to demonstrate my understanding of a potential market/opportunity/problem for the recipient solved by something the requestor is bringing to the table.

On a daily basis, my inboxes fill up, and while I try to get back to every email within 24 hours, there are some that get parked for later.  Introductions can sometimes fall into this category especially when (respectfully):

  1. We haven’t talked in a while (or ever) and I can’t remember what it is you actually do.
  2. You don’t have any social capital built up with me and I don’t want to risk a losing social capital with the person you are requesting an intro to.
  3. I’m busy and don’t want to stop what I am doing to research you, your company, or try to remember how we actually met and what I thought of you or your company.
  4. Timing isn’t right.  For example: if you want an intro to an investor and I’m raising money from them, your ‘new and great’ opportunity could get in the way of mine.  Same is true for a biz dev deal where a partnering company only has bandwidth to engage with one or two new projects/startups in the next 3-6 months.
  5. This is the most selfish reason and one I wouldn’t suggest, but it can happen.  Did you ever ignore or refuse an introduction that I asked for?  Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to see if there is anyone you are connected with that I could benefit from meeting.  

Depending on how well I know the person you are trying to meet, I may ask for permission to make the intro before actually making it.  Save me a step, when you ask for the intro, make it forwardable.

So, how do you actually compose the best forwardable email intro?  I’ve broken down the optimal structure (from my experience).

Subject Line: Intro Request: Jeff Lebowski

Intro or Introduction doesn’t really matter here, but I take into consideration the character length limitations for a mobile email client and usually go with Intro.  

First Line of Email:  Hi Ryan, I can’t believe it’s been two years since we sat across from each other at WeWork.  I hope you, Corrie and Jack are enjoying your new home in Cleveland.

Whether I want to admit it or not, the face that you remembered personal details about my family indicates that you a) know me well b) are thorough and detail oriented and/or c) interested enough in the intro to track down the information you think may sway my judgement or time to respond.  You can sweeten this intro with something like, “I have Cavs season tickets and I’d love for you to be my guest at the home opener.”

Next Line: MyCompanyName (http://mycompany.com) works with widget makers like Widget Express and Widget Emporium to automatically scan for defects.  We just did something great and our new product (http://linktonewproduct) is driving some tangible metric that will agitate or excite the intro recipient.

Play to the intro recipient’s interests or motivational points:

  • We work with Competitor A, Competitor B, & Competitor C.
  • We’ve helped a company in this space increase some metric by x% or better yet x dollars.
  • Some other tangible or vanity metric that is going to make your prospect look like a rock star for ‘discovering’ you or at least like a super connected and relevant person for someone to have brought him/her your introduction request.

I see on LinkedIn that you are connected to Jeff Lebowski, VP Operations at WidgetsRUs (http://linktosocialprofile).  Would you please connect us via email?

I like asking for an email intro because, in my experience, automated intros via other ‘social networks’ tend to get lost in the shuffle, ignored, or responded to much later than email.  When I get asked for intros, often they are to people I don’t know incredibly well or haven’t worked with in a while, and I may need to do a quick refresher on how I know that person. I like to include the link to the person’s network profile, so, if the person is like me and wants to do quick research, they have a link at their fingertips.

Cheers/Best/Regards,

 Ryan O’Donnell                                                                

Growth at SellHack.com                                                                        

Rest of Contact Info

I prefer not using ‘Thanks in Advance’ as it’s an assumptive close and runs the risk of being negatively perceived.  Your personality can really be summed up in the words you choose in the sign off.  I don’t read a ton into it but some folks do.

Ultimately, know who you are reaching out to for an intro and who the end recipient is.  You are a person, not a robot.  People buy from and invest capital in people they know like and trust (capital comes in many forms – time, money, attention).  

The last intro I requested was blocked when the recipient declined an intro.  It happens and I have thick skin.  I also hack SellHack to get his email address, so there will be a politely persistent follow-up a few weeks from now to the gentlemen with a better approach and value proposition.  

*This post has no scientific basis other than my own personal experience.  Please share your tips, tricks, advice and hacks in the comments.

Cheers,

Ryan (& the SellHack Team)

Why We Built SellHack

SellHack started as an internal email finder tool for us to use when prospecting. As a sales professional, I know the value of a warm intro and the opportunity cost of a non-connect. A non-connect happens when you do nothing more but make note of a decision maker’s Social Profiles profile since you don’t have a credible mutual connection for an intro. Sure a cold Social Profile connection request could work, but what happens after you get the notification that Mr. or Mrs. prospect just accepted your request? Do you send them a message through Social Profiles? What happens if they don’t respond? How do you know if they even received the message or if it’s lost in the cluttered Social Profilesinbox? Even worse, what if your request is ignored? Either way, your leverage is gone.

There is a ton of information, a burgeoning conference scene, and many tools in the Biz Dev playbook that help with moving a prospect through the funnel, but getting to the person’s inbox is a challenge. Social Profiles specifically does not opine the email address of their members unless you are connected. Even then, my network profile observations suggest that a lot of emails listed are actually the member’s personal email address they used when registering for Social Profiles.

SellHack is an browser extension (Chrome for now) that uses magic and JavaScript to render a ‘HackIn’ button on a Social Profile’s member’s profile page next to the Connections, Message or InMail buttons below the profile picture (depending on your relationship to that person). The magic happens when you click the ‘HackIn’ button. You’ll notice the page slides down and our system starts checking publicly available data sources to return a confirmation of the person’s email address or our best guesses. I love getting an email verification, but even when we can’t verify the email address, SellHack still saves me a ton of time. I don’t have to manually create the different permutations of what the person’s email address could be (ryan@, ryano@, rodonnell@ etc). There is always an option to copy our best guesses to your clipboard where you are free to check these against Rapportive or send your intro email to the addresses we provide as BCC.

This is a beta version and best yet, it’s FREE. We’d love your feedback on how to make SellHack a more productive tool. Tweet us @sellhack or send a note to Support@sellhack.com.

Think this is cool?  Add SellHack to Social Profiles here.

Cheers!

– The SellHack Crew