Mastering the Art of Following Up

Mastering the Art of Following Up

Turn “no” into a “yes” and no-responses into new clients
Mat ShermanJérémy Chevallier
May 18, 2019 7:23 PM
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Many people don’t realize this, but the key to making sales isn’t in the initial outreach. It’s in the follow-up.

Almost every customer PubLoft ever got was from a follow-up email, sometimes even 6+ times. The ultimate question now is:

Why is following up the killer activity, and not the initial reach out?

The reason to follow up is that your prospects are probably really busy, and didn’t plan on talking to you today. When a CEO or manager wakes up and starts their day, they usually plan it—and that plan does not include you. When you reach out on email or LinkedIn introducing yourself, they aren’t going to want to engage immediately.

Additionally, chances are you aren’t the only one sending outbound messages to them. Other freelancers and salespeople could be targeting them, so whenever she gets one of those messages, she immediately rejects them.

So how do you break through this wall?

Follow up! Most people don’t, so when you do, people notice. And they respond.

There is data from Grant Cardone on that:

Eight out of ten sales, from all companies, were made between the 5th and the 12th contact.

Another example of the phenomenon is outlined in this short listicle by Amanda Abella:

I recently got a lucrative writing deal after following up with a prospect for months. It’s not that they didn’t want to respond, it’s that they were up to their eyeballs in other projects and some things took a back seat. I’m pretty sure that the only reason I got the gig, and therefore increased my revenue, is because I was so consistent with following up.

By now you hopefully understand the importance of following up. It’s about getting the attention of the person you’re targeting, sometimes which will take months. Remember, the downside of not following up is:

  1. They forget about you
  2. Someone else earns their attention
  3. You lose the deal

Case study: San Diego Chargers

In the beginning of this talk, CEO Kyle Whissel talks about how the San Diego chargers (and every other NFL team) trains thousands of hours a year, in all seasons, just to prepare for 16 games that last 2–4 hours. He suggests that the same methodology be applied to prospecting. Build out your tool belt so much that you know what to do in every situation.

Just like the right guard for the chargers knows what to do during a blitz or a stacked defense, you should know how to follow up based on the behaviors your prospect is exhibiting.

Things to think about when following up

Be persistent, but not annoying

Following up is not annoying your prospects with a “just following up here” 20 times in a row. Each follow-up should be a value add, and it shouldn't even feel like a follow-up to the prospect.

Develop your cadence

The way you think about when you send your follow-up emails and how much time in between each one is what we call cadence. Rebecca Matias dives into sales cadence examples and lessons:

A sales cadence is simply a timeline of sales activities and methods reps follow to engage leads. For example, if one of the starting points in your sales conversion funnel involves a lead filling out a form on your site, the steps you take in order to contact that prospect and get him to agree to a face-to-face meeting make up your sales cadence.
In this case, the sales cadence tells you when and how to contact the lead after completing the form (e.g., email on day 1, call on day 2, send a follow-up message on day 3, etc.). Find out how you can generate leads for your business.)

There are a ton of different cadences. All the CRMs and sales tools teach their own, but you’re going to need to pick the on that’s best for you, whether it’s more aggressive or more laid back (or somewhere in the kiddle).

Example: the cadence from their book, “The Follow Up Formula”:


There are hundreds of examples of cadences if you look them up online, but if you want some place to start, I’d start with this.

Their CEO Steli Efti is known for putting out some of the best sales content out there. Read more about Steli here.

Learn to turn a “no” into a “yes”

Remember to add value

You always want to make sure that you’re adding value ion your follow-ups and you’re not just bumping an email you sent a few years ago. Emily Bauer published some examples of great follow ups after you send the initial message. And here is one strategy HubSpot talks about:

In your follow-up email, send one or two relevant materials from your own company’s content, such as a long-form content resource or recent blog article that addresses a challenge that you think they might be experiencing. Make it clear that you’re available to speak about their goals and that you have expertise in specific areas that matter to them. 

At the end of the day, you need to pick the cadence that will work with you. We suggest testing and iterating on your cadence until you have one that feels right and yields great results. Some more places to find inspiration for cadences are right here → Here and here 

How to remind yourself to follow up

It’s a valid question. If you’re sending dozens of messages a day, it’s going to be hard to remember to follow up with everyone. This is why you need a tool to help you set reminders for each contact. Usually, this is the job of a CRM. If you don’t have a CRM, we suggest you start with HubSpot's free version and get used to the CRM life and work up from there. They also have a free extension that you can install inside your Gmail which makes setting follow up reminders super easy.

At the end of the day, good things happen to those who follow up. To finish off the lesson, I want you to read this post on how one of our original cofounders followed up all the way to winning an investment from Jason Calacanis’s fund. Here’s an excerpt:

1.5 years of hustling my ass off and staying persistent finally got me to a yes. Persistence is everything. Screw talent. Screw luck. If you’re persistent enough, you’ll make your own luck and people 10x more talented than you will want to be part of that luck.