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.

 

Want to Email Like a Boss? (spoiler alert) use Yesware!

We’ve been working on SellHack for a few months now. Ever since getting picked up by in the tech blogosphere here and here, our inboxes were flooded with emails from supporters and a few detractors. We soon discovered that the subject matter for the inbound emails fell into one of three categories: 1) ‘this is awesome, keep up the good work!’ 2) ‘how do I get an account?’ 3) ‘please delete my information’.

We committed to responding to each and every email within 24 hours, which proved to be more overwhelming than we ever expected. My total email word count that dat was ~40,000 and I type ~50 words per minute. Using back of the envelope math, these replies would have taken 13 hours of nonstop typing and that’s not including the time it would have taken to read the email.

Fortunately, we had Yesware in our toolkit.  For those not familiar with the company, Yesware is an email productivity platform that helps salespeople work more effectively, right from their inbox.  The product is intuitive and there were 4 specific features that rock!

  1. Templates
  2. Reporting & Real Time Notifications
  3. Send Later
  4. Reminders

1) Templates rock because they save you time.

Leveraging Yesware templates saved us a ton of time in conveying the core messages with a couple of keystrokes by crafting templates for each topic. Yesware templates, built for speed and flexibility, enabled us to start with an email foundation that could be customized as needed effectively cutting the reply time by 80%.

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2) Reporting & Real Time Notifications rock because you’ve never had this degree of transparency.

Once that fateful day in late March passed, we were able to log into Yesware reporting to understand which categories the emails fell into. 35% of the emails were in support of the product we were building, 60% were inquiries on how to get an account and the remaining 5% were folks spooked by the coverage and asking for their accounts to be deleted. We made sure to set tracking on each email we sent back to this remaining 5% and when we received confirmation that they opened the message, we immediately followed up with a phone call. (pro tip: with Yesware, you can see what device a person opens the message on. If it’s a phone and they are reading your email…CALL THEM NOW!) The 5% of folks who wanted their account cancelled or info removed were so surprised that we took the time to reply directly and call them that we were able to save most of them from canceling.

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3) ‘Send Later’ rocks because you’ll never forget to send a follow-up email again.

Business has been steadily growing for us and we’ve had a chance to meet lots of interesting folks. Timing is not always right for companies or people that we speak with, and just today I was asked to follow up with a prospect in mid-August. With Yesware, it’s easy to manage follow-ups without ever leaving gmail. Before Yesware, I would create a new calendar event on the given day and time to follow-up. This was messy and often created calendar conflicts with setting meetings and the events were easily overlooked. Now, as soon as a customer or prospect asks me to follow-up within a certain time frame, I compose the follow-up email and schedule to send on the right day and right time in the future leveraging the ‘Send Later’ option.

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4) Reminders rock because without them, you are not as organized as you could be.

Reminders are another really useful feature. We’re a startup without the luxury of a back office, and customers have all sorts of special needs including custom invoices, reports or account tracking. Our business is SaaS and each customer has their own rolling monthly usage cycle, so due dates for some of these special asks can vary. Reminders is a bulletproof was to keep on top of this.

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Even if you don’t have a traffic surge from trending on ProductHunt or getting mentioned on TechCrunch, Yesware’s templates, insights, reminders and ‘Send Later’ can be home brewed into a really effective business automation engine for any growing company. and insights are a great tool for managing day to day tasks. Whether it’s an automatic follow-up email to biz dev prospects, customer service inquiries and even a reply occasional person probing how our algorithm works, we have a template for that.

Note: If you are interested in trying out the product, Yesware is pleased to offer a special trial of their product, available exclusively through this post.

2 Free Months of Yesware Enterprise ($150 Value)

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*Available for new users/teams only 

Keep an eye out for more blog posts about hacking the sales process. We’ll be highlighting the best of the best tips, tricks, apps, services, people and more. If you don’t have SellHack installed to find hidden emails, download the free extension here.

Cheers, Ryan O’Donnell

Growth Dude at SellHack

Asking For an Email Introduction

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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)