A good cold email follow-up sequence is the difference between winning and losing in sales. In fact, most meetings come not from the initial email, but from an email in your follow-up sequence.
Furthermore, most deals are won from the follow-up. Grant Cardone talks about the importance of following up all the time - you may need to follow-up with your potential customer 5, 6 or seven times before they buy.
But why listen to me? I’m just some random guy on the internet, right?
Yes, yes I am. But I’ve also been sending cold emails for years, have closed dozens of deals with cold email, and my response rates are 20x higher than the industry average.
And, I work for Experiment 27, the leader in outbound marketing (we’ve generated over $100MM for us and our clients in the last 5 years or so…)
In this post, we’re talking all about the best cold email follow-up sequence so you can book more meetings and win more deals.
Let’s dive in:
BONUS: Click here and get access to the exact follow-up sequence I use to book 10x more meetings than other salespeople, including exactly what to say, when to send, and some bonus personalization tips as well.
What is a Follow-Up Sequence?
Your cold email follow-up sequence is a series of emails that are scheduled to send after your initial email goes out to your prospects if they don’t respond.
For example, you may send your first email to Mr Prospect on Monday, but you don’t hear back from him. Rather than manually reaching out again, your cold email tool (I like MixMax) will automatically send another email on Wednesday, for example.
Follow-Up sequences are helpful because they reduce the number of manual emails you have to send to your prospects, which is one of the most time consuming tasks as a sales representative.
If you can automate anything effectively - you should!
Why Is Your Follow-Up Important?
Your prospect may not respond to your first email - actually, odds are they definitely won’t respond to your first email.
In the example below, my outreach campaign had 100% open rate and a 19% response rate (I booked 5 meetings).
The sequence had 5 emails, and the first three emails in the sequence didn’t receive a single response. Not ONE!
This example isn’t typical, I usually book a meeting or two from the first one to two emails, but in this case, all of the meetings came from the fourth and fifth follow-up emails.
It probably had something to with the time of year (I was sending around Christmas time) but either way, you can see how important the follow-ups are here.
If I hadn’t sent the follow-up emails, I wouldn’t have landed a single meeting. But because I had follow-ups in my sequence, I landed five meetings, and closed a deal.
This study from Propeller CRM found that you’re 3x more likely to receive a response if you send 4-7 follow-up emails as opposed to only 1-3 follow-up emails.
Considering 75% of your potential customers won’t respond to your first email, or second, or third, following-up is the name of the game in sales, and other areas of life too!
You have to be persistent to get what you want - whether that’s a raise at work or a response from your cold email, the importance of following-up cannot be overstated!
How Many Follow-Up Emails Should You Send?
You may be scared to send more than a few follow-up emails as you don’t want to annoy your prospects, which makes sense.
However, you’d be surprised how many emails it takes to get the response rates you need to close deals - as mentioned above, only sending 1-3 follow-ups will win you 1/3rd the responses of 4-7 emails in your follow-up sequence.
Once you get over the 7-8 email range, you’re probably venturing into annoying territory, but even then, you should be fine as long as you space out your email follow-ups appropriately (more on that in a bit).
Generally speaking, I like to include 4-5 emails in my follow-up sequence - and I enjoy response rates well above 20% with my cold email campaigns, and meeting book rates between 5-10% on average, which is far higher than the industry average.
How Often Should You Send Follow-Up Emails?
You should send follow-up emails with every outreach campaign, but the frequency of follow-up emails in your sequence will vary depending on how many follow-ups you’ve already sent, and who you’re emailing.
For example, you can follow-up every few days or once a week with the CEO of a small company, but if you’re emailing the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, following-up every month or every other month is more appropriate.
I recommend you email golden geese companies, which are between $5MM and $150MM in revenue.
They have the deal sizes of enterprise clients (6 or 7 figures) but the sales cycles of local business owners (a few calls and a few decision makers) which makes them the ideal sweet spot for outbound marketing and sales campaigns.
They’re also appealing because both local businesses and enterprise companies are bombarded by salespeople 24/7. Everyone either wants the Fortune 500, or the businesses they see around them (restaurants, doctors, lawyers, etc.)
It’s those mid-market companies that are neglected, which makes them easier to reach, and they also happen to have fast sales cycles and large deal sizes. The best of both worlds!
When you’re emailing these golden geese companies, here’s the follow-up sequence I generally use (each email follow-up is scheduled in terms of the previous email, if no response):
- First follow-up 2 days after the initial email
- Second follow-up 4 days later
- Third follow-up 5 days later
- Fourth and final follow-up 7 or 8 days later
Four follow-ups (five emails total including the initial email) is usually where I cap my outreach campaigns, but you can add more emails to your follow-up sequence if you like - just remember to continue spacing out the emails.
After your fourth follow-up email, I’d send one email every month until they either respond back with interest or tell you to stop emailing them.
What Time of Day Should You Send Follow-Up Emails?
There are certain times of the day that are best for sending cold emails and other times that you should avoid like the plague - however, you won’t know which times are best until you test your campaigns to see what works.
But whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of sending all of your email follow-ups at the same time every day.
Some people check their emails first thing in the morning, others before bed, while others check during lunch, and some randomly throughout the day.
It’s important your emails land at the top of your prospects’ inbox right when they check their email so it catches their attention. Otherwise, your odds of being opened plummet.
If you only send emails in the morning, for example, because it’s the “best time of day to send follow-up emails” then you’re missing out on all of the people who check their emails in the afternoon or evening.
Instead, stagger all of your follow-up emails at different times of the day, so you can make sure to catch every prospect at the right time.
I’ll typically send my initial emails around 1 PM, and have my follow-up emails go out at 10 AM, 4 PM, 12 PM, and 6 PM EST, but again, it’s not an exact science, and it’s best for you to test which times work best for you, as every niche is different.
What’s the bottom line here?
Always send your follow-up emails at different times to make sure you maximize your chances of being opened in the first place.
What Should You Include in a Follow-Up Email?
Your follow-up emails should have you top-of-mind with your prospects and interested in your services without pissing them off or being pushy.
Following-up as a reply to your original email is the best method, using short emails that get to the point and force your prospect to read your initial email once again.
Typically, here’s what I like to use in my follow-up emails:
- A “bump” email (literally bumps the initial email to the top of their inbox)
- A “big win” email that shows them we’re always working/winning with our clients (this is basically another relevant case study)
- The “two ideas email” (sending two ideas for them that are highly relevant/provide value)
- The “breakup email” (you’re no longer going to reach out, this one works like crazy)
I’ll elaborate on each one of these emails below in the follow-up sequence template section at the bottom of the post.
Sales Follow-Up Timeline
Typically my sales follow-up sequences are sent over the course of two to three weeks after the initial contact is made, with the time between each email increasing after every send.
For example, the first email goes out, two days later the initial bump email is sent, putting the campaign at 3 days total. If that bump email doesn’t receive a reply within four days, the third email goes out, putting the campaign duration at one week.
The third follow-up email goes out after 5 days with no response, and the fourth goes out one week later, putting us roughly two weeks into the campaign. And if you have additional emails in your sequence, you’ll be in the three to four week territory.
Sales Follow-Up Email Sequence Template
This follow-up sequence works like a charm - I use it in my cold email outreach sequences and they land me meeting book rates between 7-10% which is insanely high.
Send 100 emails, and book 7-10 meetings (on average).
Follow-Up #1: The “Bump” Email
This email is one of the most important and effective emails you can send to a prospect.
And the best part?
It’s short, direct, and usually garners the highest response rate of any email in your follow-up sequence.
It’s a simple but effective message that bumps your initial email to the top of your prospect’s inbox and forces them to read the initial message once more, so they can decide if they’re interested or not.
It’s important that you send this email as a reply (you should send all of your follow-ups as replies in the same thread, but this one is especially important to send as a reply because it’s meant to bump the initial email to the top of their inbox.)
Here’s an example of the “bump” email:
Following up on this to make sure it didn’t get buried because I know you’re busy.”
You can even send something like this:
“Following up on my last message.”
These short but powerful messages will force your prospect to read your last message once more, and assuming you followed the instructions in my guide on sending the perfect cold email, they’ll likely respond to book a meeting with you.
I can almost guarantee this single message will yield at least half of your campaign’s responses.
Follow-Up #2: The “Big Win” Email
The “Big Win” email is another good one - in this case, your goal is to let them know that you’re always working and getting great results.
If you know anything about effective cold email strategy and sales in general, you’re already aware of the importance case studies play in your outreach strategy.
You use your case studies to find a target market in the first place, and they’re mentioned in your initial email.
Then, when you send the bump email, your prospect reads the case study once more.
And if they don’t respond to that bump email? Hit them with another case study in the form of a big win.
If you don’t have more than one case study, that’s okay - you can reference your only case study in this email but write about it in a way that makes it sound like another big win, separate from the first case study you mentioned in your initial email.
Here’s an example of a “big win” email:
Just had another big win with an agency in Boston and would love to tell you how they added $100k/month in revenue within a few months of working with us.
What times are you around next week to chat? Happy to send some times as well.
As you can see, this email is short, direct, and mentions another case study. The entire email is practically a case study and a call to action.
It’s best to mention a “big win” you’ve had with a company as similar to theirs as possible, because people like to know you’ve helped companies like theirs in the past.
This email should garner at least 25% of your replies, if not more.
You can send another “big win” email a week after the first if no response, but I usually move on to the third and final follow-up email in my sequence, the breakup email.
Follow-Up #3: The “Breakup” Email
All human beings do everything to either avoid pain or seek pleasure, but avoiding pain is a stronger motivator than pleasure.
If you call a millionaire at 3 AM and say “act right now and you’ll make $20k” he’ll tell you to f*ck off and leave him alone, as he angrily goes back to sleep.
But if you call that same millionaire at 3 AM and say “act right now and I’ll prevent you from losing $20k” he’ll thank you for the call.
Fear of loss is stronger than the hope of gaining what you don’t already have, and it makes sense: you can always have more, but once you’re dead, well, yeah.
Luckily, you can use this fear of loss to your advantage in your email follow-up sequence. This email is the icing on the cake, and will easily yield almost all of your replies.
And it worked like a charm in this example:
Here’s how it goes:
Seems like increasing your revenue with PPC isn’t a priority for you this year. If that changes, please let me know - would love to work together!
Or you can say something like this (even shorter and more powerful):
Have you given up on this?
Either one of those breakup emails should do the trick. You’ll have more replies to this email than you’d believe possible!
How to Follow-Up After No Response?
If you’ve received a response from a prospect in any capacity, whether it’s before the initial meeting or after you’ve already talked to them on the phone, the follow-up sequence is a bit different.
I’ll have another post on this topic itself as it warrants its own tutorial, but for the sake of this article, I’ll touch on it briefly:
You want to use personalization as much as possible in the follow-ups with prospects who have already responded, as it increases your chances of hearing back from them.
That being said, much of the same principles still apply here: always provide value without bugging your prospects, and space out your follow-ups between each successive message.
You also want to stagger the time of day you’re reaching out to them, the days itself (try Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, for example) and even the channel through which you’re reaching out to follow-up (email, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the phone).