The sales meeting is over. Your prospect didn’t sign on the dotted line, instead asking to think things over. Now it’s time to begin crafting the first follow-up email, where you show appreciation for the meeting and invite the person to contact you with any questions. Days later, you may even send a subsequent email in the hopes of nudging the prospect toward an answer.
Even the most well-spoken sales professional can find the process of writing those emails daunting, though. Two or three sentences can take a half an hour or more to write, and that time could be put toward following up on new leads. These tips can help you shave time off the process without sacrificing quality.
If you’re reinventing the wheel every time you write an important email, you’re already needlessly wasting time. In fact, there are already sales email templates out there you can use as a jumping-off point. Instead of staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen, you’ll need only customize these prewritten emails to fit your own unique situation. Once you have an email set up exactly as you’d like it, save it as an Outlook Template so that you’ll be able to access it and make a few customizations the next time you need to follow up on an opportunity. You can even save separate templates for the different types of follow-ups you might send on a given day.
If you took the SAT or ACT in preparation for college, you likely are familiar with writing essays within time constraints. Put yourself on a timer as you start your email and pretend you only have a set amount of time to complete the email you’re writing. You can always revise later, but you’ll at least have text that you can improve. Experts also recommend starting with a rough outline, even if you merely write down the basics of what you want to say. If you have something in place at the start, you’re less likely to get stuck as you write.
As a salesperson, you’re likely a natural talker, so why not speak your emails? Tools are available now that make it easy to dictate your emails. Simply start talking and once you reach the end, clean up the text to eliminate any misspellings or punctuation errors. This is especially helpful if you’re a slow typist who can speak much more quickly than you can write. You can save even more time by recording your email on your phone while you’re in the car on the way back to the office from your sales meeting, then importing that file into your computer to create an email from it.
Nothing will slow you down more while writing than distractions. In fact, once you’ve begun typing, you’ll likely think of at least a dozen other things you need to be doing. This is where timing yourself can come in handy. Silence your phone and turn off email notifications until you’ve finished writing your email. If other people might slip in and distract you, hang a “do not disturb” sign or find a quiet place where you can write uninterrupted. Then set a timer on your phone or use an online tool to force yourself to focus only on writing for the time period you’ve set.
Often perfectionism slows someone down the most when it comes to writing something important. You may hear the voice of your high school English teacher or your own inner critic as you begin to type. Shut those voices out and focus on the message you’re trying to convey. If it helps, give yourself permission to write a bad first draft, with the knowledge that you’ll refine it once you have the words on paper. As writer Ann Lamott once famously said, perfectionism kills creativity. Recognizing that everyone has similar struggles can help you push past your fears and put words on the page, giving yourself something to work with later.
Some sales professionals dread the idea of writing follow-up emails, but a few simple tricks can make the process easier. Over time, you’ll find that you can fire off a message in only minutes, letting you get back to your other duties.
Dan Steiner is a professional writer, author, and marketing influencer. He is an active mentor in the California startup community, and has helped numerous brands grow over the years. Currently he serves as CEO at Elite Legal Marketing, a law firm marketing agency. Dan's published work has been featured in dozens of media outlets, including Entrepreneur, Inc, HuffingtonPost, GoDaddy, among many others. When he’s not writing or speaking, you can find Dan at the gym, backpacking, or volunteering at his local animal shelter.