Baseball legend Yogi Berra said,

“Doing the little things can make a big difference.”

Of course, he was talking baseball. In this episode of Virtual Selling, Concrete Results, I’m talking about sales follow-up messages.

The Nuances of Follow-Up Messages

To build off of the last episode in which I shared the 4 key components of good follow-up sales messages, let’s talk about the “little things” or the nuances of our follow-up messages.

I’ll cover the nuances of the follow-up messages based on the mode of communication used and additional overall nuances for these messages – plus some tips from other sales strategists!

Let’s start with the modes of communication: each mode has unique nuances.

Nuances for Email Follow-Ups

First up is: Email follow-ups

Email is the communication mode of choice for most sellers. And that’s understandable because it’s efficient, seems less obtrusive, and lets you hide behind the text. (You know it’s true)

There are some nuances for good email follow-ups.

  1. First, don’t make email your ONLY mode of communication. Why? It may not be the choice of your buyers! Mix it up. If possible, at the end of your sales conversations, ask your buyers for their preferred follow-up mode.
  2. Keep the email length under a 2-minute read. It can be easy to give TOO much information in email. Don’t do this. keep it as short as possible. If you find yourself getting into long explanations, justifications, or example…stop and ask yourself,
    1. Do THEY need this information NOW?
    2. Do they CARE about this information NOW?
    3. Is this information about ME or about THEM?

Then adjust accordingly.

  1. Make it visually easy to read. Break up the text with paragraphs, bullets, bold, etc.
  2. Make sure you’ve personalized the message, and use a compelling Subject Line such as:
    • Should we talk again?
    • Ready for our next conversation?
    • Should I stop filling your Inbox?
    • I was thinking about our conversation…
    • Next steps…
    • Let’s take another look
    • I thought you might like these blogs
    • Here’s that info I promised you
    • I’d love (or appreciate) your feedback
    • I have an idea for you
    • I thought about what you said
    • Interested in (relevant topic)?

Nuances for Video Follow-Ups

Okay, now to the most unique mode on the list:

Video follow-ups. The use of video messaging has increased, but not enough that it is so overdone buyers are sick of it. It can set you apart!

Videos are opened more than emails and you can include tone and connection to your buyer. Most video apps allow you to know when the video was opened, how long the person watched it, etc. A couple that I know work well are Vidyard and Loom.

The nuances for video follow-ups:

  1. Make sure to connect with your intro and a connection question or statement. I’ve also seen the use of small whiteboards lately. Often the seller will have the whiteboard in front of their face at first, and it’ll have the buyer’s name or company name on it.
  2. Keep the video length less than 3 minutes.

Include the 4 components of a good follow-up message:

  1. Remind them of the POWNs you discussed and their impact
  2. Offer something of value
  3. Clearly state the call to action
  4. Let them know what to expect next from you
  1. Use video best practices for good lighting, sound, appearance, and tone.

Instead of giving you a lesson here, here’s a link to my dear friend Julie Hansen’s fantastic tips for using video well – from lighting to engagement. She’s been teaching this for years, not just since COVID!

Nuances for Phone Calls and Voicemails

Now let’s discuss the nuances for phone calls. I hope you aren’t just stuck in email follow-ups. Make sure to CALL your prospects whom you’ve met with. Let them hear your voice, and your interest, and heck, maybe you’ll get live to have a real conversation.

Here’s the nuances for phone calls:

  1. Be ready for voicemail – But don’t count on getting voicemail! You may get your buyer live and you need to be prepared for that. I’ve seen too many situations where the seller was expecting to get voicemail, and when they instead got the live person, they fumbled their way through the call because they weren’t ready.
  2. Don’t include all 4 components of a good follow-up on voicemail unless you can do that in 30 seconds. Instead focus on your greeting, a short “why we spoke in the past,” and then the Call to Action.
  3. Say your call back number twice and slow it down so they can capture it.
  4. Let them know what to expect. I think it’s helpful to say, “I’ll also send an email message if that is easier for you to respond to.” And then keep that email really short with only the Call to Action and your commitment to them. (What action will you take and when if you don’t hear from them?)

Nuances for Every Mode of Communication

Okay, there are the nuances that are important for each different mode of communication. Now let’s look at two overall follow-up message nuances that are important for every mode of communication.

Use and Personalize Template Messages

First use templates and personalize them. I’ve mentioned this one in other episodes, so what my nuance is for this one is don’t use one of your personalized follow-ups as your next template.

It’s too often that I’ve seen and received a follow-up message that was obviously for someone else and some of the details applied to me and some didn’t. Last week, for example I got a message to “Gary,” and the rest of the message was about me from someone I’d spoken with, but one of the things that matters a lot to me is attention to detail. The message starting with “Hey Gary,” right away turned me off, and that person has dropped to the bottom of my potential list.

Share a Breakup or Opt-out Message

The second nuance is that every three-to-five messages, give your prospect an out. Give them either a “breakup” message or an opt-out message, and let them off the hook. Getting an answer that maybe they’ve decided to do something else, or they’ve decided to do nothing and continue doing what they’ve been doing is just as important to you as moving that sales opportunity forward. Why? Because when you know people are a no, you can spend more time and energy on the opportunities that are real.

The “breakup” message I use goes like this:

“It’s okay to let me know if you’ve decided to work with someone else or do nothing. I won’t be offended.”

I wanted to give you more options though because different styles will appeal to different people, so I reached out to several of my sales expert friends and asked them what they use. You’ll also find links to their sites or resources so that you can get even more of their wisdom!

Lynn Hidy uses a personal approach:

“You will not hurt my feelings if you tell me you went with someone else… It will hurt my feelings if you don’t tell me.”

 Colleen Stanley use the humor approach:

Nancy, sorry I’ve missed you in my call and email outreach. In my effort not to become a sales stalker, I am going to assume that:

  1. You’ve had it with 2020 and are retired, sitting on a very secluded beach social distancing.
  2. The topics we’ve discussed have moved to the back burner and have no chance of making it to the front burner in the near future. Other fires are burning brighter.

Shawn Karol Sandy says she uses a video message with her breakup message because it’s much harder for them ignore as the video humanizes you.

“If you’re working on other priorities at the moment or have chosen another vendor, just hit reply to let me know.”

Alice Heiman uses a perfection approach:

“I would love the opportunity to work with you. I also understand if I am not the right fit and you have found someone who is perfect.”

Kendra Lee takes a more direct approach:

“You had wanted to move forward by <date> but I haven’t heard from you. Did we lose?”

 There are many options, aren’t there for the breakup or opt out message? You’ll need to find the message that’s right for you.

What’s important is to nudge action and an answer at the right time. Getting a “No” is valuable so you can put your efforts into real opportunities.

What’s Next? 

And those are my top strategies for the nuances of your virtual sales follow-up messages.

In our last episode in this Virtual Selling; Concreate Results series I’ll share my final thoughts on virtual selling and narrow all the ideas from the last 11 episodes down to my top 4 must-dos!

Stay tuned…