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…




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.


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.



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…


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.


Great Email For Pruning Your List

We all want to have healthy and robust subscriber lists for newsletters or other content nurturing programs. For some, sending an email blast can be like going to the ATM especially when there is an offer to buy something enclosed. For others, email can be a form of passive lead nurturing on the path to moving the recipient one step closer to engagement or conversion.

As a student and practicer of online marketing, I’m always on the lookout for new resources. In fact, I sign up for so many newsletters that I have a hard time keeping track of them. (ps – if you have a solution for this, please let me know!)

The number of subscribers you have is a vanity metric. The response or engagement rate your subscribers have per communication attempt is a much more telling metric. The numbers vary by industry but a 20% open rate and 3% click rate is a good benchmark.

An email from Social Fresh caught my attention last week and I wanted to share if here. These guys share content and provide insights on leveraging social media to improve your business. I’ve been a ‘long time listener’ without being a ‘first time caller.’ Here’s the email:

So, now what
Why I opened this email:
1) It was in my primary inbox, not promotions or social.
2) The subject line was ‘real quick…’ It’s a subject line I use and allowed me to quickly apply my FARD filter. (forward, archive, reply, delete…more on this later).
3) The reply address was the CEO/sender’s email not ‘do_not_reply@xyzbigcompany.com’ (I hate that)

Why I forwarded the email from my catch-all email address to my primary inbox?
1) I’m an email geek!
2) This is the first time I’ve been asked to unsubscribe from a list. Most of us are too nervous about upsetting a subscriber and losing more folks than gaining for every email sent. You are probably thinking: ‘who cares, they may convert at some point in the future, why ask them to leave now?’ There are a few psychological tactics in use here including reverse psychology.
3) Curiosity – why would a company want to ask customers or prospective customers to remove themselves? My mind started racing. Maybe they are segmenting their subscribers and want to know which segment is most engaged with the content so they know what topics could yield the highest engagement rates. (say what?) Maybe they want to drop into a cheaper tier for their eMail provider. Maybe they wanted to see if a big ask would impact open and click rates. We’ll save the analysis paralysis for another post, but suffice to say one, some, all or other factors could be at play.

This tees up a question I often ask of folks who hire us to consult: ‘if you owned an auto-repair company, would you rather have 100 leads who owned cars or 10 leads who are stranded on the side of the road?’

Ok. Enough speculating on my part. I sent an email to their CEO Jason Keath asking for him to comment. Here’s what we got:

“Once a year we clean up our email list for several reasons. It gives us a chance to reengage some of our audience that may have forgotten about our emails or have our newsletter going into a folder they do not check anymore. Also, if someone is just no longer interested in our emails, it is better than we remove them for our list. It means we won’t annoy them moving forward AND we prevent a possible spam complaint. It is better to be proactive and constantly cut your list down to who is truly listening and engaging with your content.

This most recent series of emails was sent to everyone on our list who has not opened an email or clicked on an email in the last 120 days. About 30% of our list fell into that category. Of those that manually chose to opt-in or opt-out, 40% stayed on the list and 60% chose to leave. Those that do not select either option will be automatically opted out.”

I love Jason’s rationale for why a startup would ever want to prune their list. Whether or not you agree with this approach, I’d love your feedback. quick question – are you sending enough emails to your prospects?

Growth Dude at SellHack

My First 7 Days on LiveChat


First, LiveChat is a game changer!

At the suggestion of a friend Ryan Schmidt, we implemented LiveChat on July 17.  Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with 144 different people around the world.  Some customers, some prospective customers, some tire kickers and one troll.

What we’ve learned…

 – These are people on our website that are engaged and may not have otherwise sent an email with their comment or question.

– Our onboarding sucks and we didn’t realize how bad until we saw how many people were asking how it works and how to get started.

– Our name is polarizing.  Some people love it but it scares others.

– 50% of the questions are about pricing and we didn’t display a pricing link on page.  We’re going to run A/B tests for a few of the scenarios we have.

– 25 of these conversations led to direct signups and subscriptions.

– Managing these conversations take time and I don’t know if it will be sustainable for me to be the only one managing our queue.

– A lot of our traffic is stemming from articles written on us back in April.

– People aren’t patient when they start a chat and I’m not able to reply within a few seconds.  Managing expectations here with a queue is important.

My wishlist for LiveChat:

– I wish there was an easier way to share a file or screenshot.

– I wish there was a way to do country level targeting.

– I wish there was a way to initiate a voice call or screen share.

I can’t think of a single business that wouldn’t benefit from having LiveChat installed.



Growth Guy at SellHack