Following up with potential business prospects is the single most important factor to help you win more deals.

On any given business day, people will open approximately 66% of their emails, but will respond to less than 40% (of the ones they receive).

With the amount of emails (and other distractions) your clients receive every day, chances are that you may not be at the top of their priority list. But don’t let that bring your morale down.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a typcial “salesman” you can outperform your competitors by out-following up with your clients. The truth is that most sales professionals don’t always take a pragmatic approach and give up too easily after not receiving a reply. This is not only true for commercial real estate, but also applies to almost every other industry.

So what can you do to get more replies?

We’ve put together 4 golden rules to help you get back on your prospects’ priority list and increase your chances of responses.

1. Lightning Speed

It seems obvious enough, but response time is the most critical first step. Quick responses establish a sense of trust, responsiveness and professionalism.

In fact, in a recent study by Dr. James Oldroyd, the results showed that “the odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted. Similarly, the odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.”

Sometimes a quick response simply is all it takes to win the deal and prevent your prospect from “shopping around” and talking to competitors.

According to InsideSales.com, an astonishing 35 to 50 percent of sales go to the person that makes first contact. Don’t let that be one of your competitors.

The numbers don’t lie: the faster you reply, the more chance you have to get a response.

2. Improve Your Messaging

Staying on top of the radar does not mean you need to craft long-winded emails. Nor does it mean you need to use generic (“just wanted to check in”) cookie cutter emails. Messaging is key and plays an important part to help you garner a response.

Try to stand out and keep it brief.

The best follow-up emails are short, offer some kind of value, and always ask an action-based question that prompts a response. This is so important that it’s worth repeating again: always ask and action-based question that prompts a response.

Also, personalize as best as you can so it does not seem like a cold, auto-generated response. Check out some email follow up template examples here: https://goo.gl/OQFpai

Finally, try sending emails outside of normal business hours. A study by Experian shows that email reponse rates are highest in the evenings between 8:00pm and 12:00am.

response rate

3. Stay Organized

There’s nothing worse than losing track of the status of your sales prospects or trying to recall what you last spoke about. One of the cardinal rules of sales follow up is to take good notes and know the status of each prospect.

Keep track of the last contact date, what their needs are, what their budget is, their target move-in date, and any relevant information about next steps that have been discussed.

If you’re not using a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, now is a time to think about one (see below). Besides keeping notes on your prospects, a CRM can also help you organize your pipeline. You can categorize prospects and keep tabs on “warm” leads vs. tirekickers so you know how to better allocate your time and energy.

This will also prevent you from surfing unorganized data and help centralize all of your sales activity to make your life much easier.

* BONUS:
Here are three simple and free CRM tools that we recommend:

4. Increase Follow Up Frequencey

Consistency is the name of the game and it’s what sets winners apart from losers.

Here’s the truth: approximately 70% of sales emails stop after the first attempt and only 19% go on to follow up a second time (source: Yesware). This means a great majority of people (including your competitors) are missing significant sales opportunities simply for the lack of persistency.

This is a numbers game.

The number of emails sent directly correlate with response percentage as shown by analysts at Yesware (below).

Remember: silence doesn’t necessarily mean rejection.

So don’t be afraid to keep sending emails (2, 3, …. 10) or pick up the phone and call until you get a response.

follow up emails chart