You did it. You sent off an email. Maybe it was a proposal. Maybe it was a question. Whatever it was, it was awesome. Then a few days passed. Okay, maybe a week. That awesome email went ignored. Is it time to send them an angry: “I haven’t heard back from you, so screw you!” email? Not quite.
The single best way to improve your chances of getting a response is by following up. (Calmly.) Why? Because your email likely was one of many. Whoever you emailed is probably busy. It’s likely unintentional.
But your follow up will be one of few. Every time you use the follow up below you stand out like a sore thumb. Don’t believe me? Here are the stats:
What percentage of firms follow up after sending a proposal?
Busy people get a lot of email. So many, in fact, that they will likely not review all of them. That means your awesome message is dead on arrival… unless you send a follow up. So few people do it that it’s the single most important action you can take on a job you want.
Oh man, shooting themselves in the foot. A majority of my deals involve 1–3 follow-ups.— Kurt Elster 🔮 (@kurtinc) May 27, 2020
When to send
Most often, following up exactly one week after you apply is your best option. It’s long enough that you’ve given the hiring manager time to review but not so long that they will have made the decision already. This is just the first email you’re going to be sending. Here’s what a complete follow up email sequence looks like:
What to say
It depends on the situation but the most common scenario is you don’t get a response. You send your proposal or application and … you get radio silence. Here’s what to do in this case to double your chances of hearing back:
Notice that this isn’t simply a single follow up email, it’s a sequence that continues to follow up every 7-10 days until you get a response. After the fourth follow up without a response, the next step is to close the loop. At that point you can rest assured knowing you followed up for over a month without hearing back.
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The next most common scenario is that you will get a response, but they won’t give you a solid answer. Something like:
Hi, Thanks for your interest. We’re reviewing applications currently.
Success! You’ve gotten a reply. It’s time to move this person into your “in-conversation” stage. You can do this in a CRM like Pipedrive shown below. I strongly recommend using a CRM, especially if you’re already working full-time because it will cut down on the amount of time it take to manage the application process.
Why? Because these conversations are much more likely to land you the job – and should therefore be treated differently altogether. Putting them in a new “in conversation” stage means they get followed up with more often. This group should take priority. In fact, you should follow up every 3-5 days with jobs in this stage. The goal is no longer just getting a reply. You want them to:
- Schedule a call with you.
- Or give you a solid “no” or “not right now.”
While you want an answer, you don’t want to rush the conversation. Don’t say things like “I can start tomorrow,” or “let’s schedule a call” right away. Instead, ask questions, get more information, and build a relationship slowly. Here’s an example of an email you can use in this stage:
A few more ideas for you:
- Ask what you will be working on to determine if it’s something in your wheelhouse.
- Ask what their timeline looks like so you know if it matches your availability (or you can schedule a follow up later).
- Identify the main problem they need tackled so you know how to approach future emails.
- Ask what they’re currently struggling with or love about their business – again getting to know their business and tune your future emails.
- Find out how much they’re looking to pay – make sure the budget is at least in the ball park.
- Check out how other types of businesses use email sequences, and get ideas from them.
Rushing through these won’t help you, so take your time. Have a plan but don’t be afraid to ask for more information that you need. Keep it to one yes/no ask per email. And keep your emails short. Check out the download below for word-for-word scripts that will win you more jobs and clients in less time.
What to do next
Want to know a secret? It takes about 30 leads to land one project. No matter how great your proposal is.
That can seem daunting but if you break it down, it’s just one lead per day. My new course Endless Clients, teaches you how to find 10+ $10,000 projects in 30 minutes or less.
It’s currently closed, and we only open up twice a year, but if you sign up below you’ll get notified when the next spot becomes available.
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