How to write a killer sales follow up email + examples for every occasion

Posted May 3, 2019

Audrey weber headshot

By Audrey Weber

Associate Content Editor at Outreach

As the leading Sales Engagement Platform, sales emails and sequences are our bread and butter. The first email is the bread: you can have it alone, but with a follow up (the butter, or other preferred condiment), it goes from dry to delectable.

Breakfast analogies aside, you may ask: Do I really need to follow up after the first email?

The answer is YES! Following up is arguably the most important step of the sales process. Seldom will anyone respond positively to your first email - theyre too busy for that. A follow-up email gently reminds your prospect that you care about their business and you want them to succeed.

Want your prospects to bite? Keep reading to learn some sales email follow up tactics and get a few sample templates.

How To Write Follow-up Sales Emails

If just sending a follow-up email automatically gets you closer to a deal, then sales would be as easy as pie. But that's hardly the case. Follow-up emails arent created equal. What works for one prospect can lead to an epic fail for another.

To prevent qualified sales leads from slipping through the cracks, here are some things to remember:

  1. Find the sweet spot between automation and customization.
  2. Identify the right message for every touch point.
  3. Get your timing and sequence right.
  4. Make a strong entrance.
  5. Keep your message short and sweet.
  6. Get personal but be personable.
  7. Let recipients feel rewarded, not reminded.
  8. Use the right call-to-action (CTA).
  9. Be patient but practical.
  10. Track, measure, and improve.

The Best Subject Lines

First impressions are key and your sales email subject lines are the first impressions you project to your prospects with every email you send. Are you writing to impress every time you hit send?

Data from tens of thousands of Outreachs own emails show that the most attention-grabbing email subject lines can drive up to 42% open rates. These subject lines share five key traits:

  1. Short, sweet, and straight to the point.
  2. Casual and personal.
  3. Cites the name of the contact or prospective company.
  4. Includes a simple call-to-action (CTA).
  5. Extremely relevant.

Here are some subject line examples you can play with. Some have actually been by Outreach SDRs (woah, trade secrets!):

  • "Hey (Recipient’s First Name), quick call next Wednesday?"
  • "Tech question / (Company Name) sales process"
  • “Time to meet?”
  • “More wins for (Company Name)”
  • "New tool / increase in results / (Company Name, case study)"
  • "(Recipient’s First Name), are you solving the wrong problems?"
  • "Hey (Recipient’s First Name), here’s a quick tip on (subject matter)"
  • “(Industry term) is dead”
  • “This simple changes can make a difference in your (metric or subject matter)
  • "(Recipient’s First Name), you forgot to check out the goodies"

Just keep in mind, theres no one-size-fits-all subject line. Success depends on many factors such as your industry, the prospects buyer persona, the context or situation, and the prospects position in the sales funnel. Use A/B testing to find the optimal iterations.

Get Personal

If your opening lines and the rest of the email lack relevance, you risk losing the opportunity to move the prospect down the funnel.

The trick is to personalize and make a strong entrance. Do your homework. Conduct thorough research about the prospect, company, and current industry issues and trends. Then craft a unique message that will both resonate with the prospect and highlight your value proposition.

Timing is Everything

Asking for a meeting too soon or presenting your value prop too late can both lead to valuable opportunities leaking out of your pipeline. Similarly, calling it quits after just one follow-up email does not optimize your win-rate potential.

So how soon and how often should you follow-up?

It depends. Theres no absolute rule on when and how many times to follow-up before you can let go of a prospect and focus on the next. However, there are situations where an immediate (i.e., within 24 hours) follow-up is imperative: after an industry event or a product demo, for example. Either situations present valuable opportunities to move the engagement forward.

On the other hand, waiting two days before following up on a previous email seems reasonable. Remember, theres a thin line between persistence and annoyance. Top sales trainer John Barrows recommends a five-point tactic that takes the customers convenience and preferences at the center of every follow-up action.

When it comes to follow-up frequency, experts disagree as well. An 8- to 12-touch sequence with calls and emails is a good place to start. Then fine-tune your email playbook by conducting A/B tests to find the perfect follow-up frequency for your type of business, sales process, and buyer personas.

Technology Is Your Friend

Even the most competent sales reps need the right tools to get the job done.

A good Sales Engagement Platform can help you build competitive advantage over your market rivals. Sales Engagement Platforms like Outreach integrate your entire sales process, granting visibility, insight, and control over the entire sales playbook.

Other resources that can help bolster your follow-up email strategy include: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Cirrus Insight, Mail Chimp, Boomerang, YesWare, and Rapportive.

Sample Sales Follow-up Email Templates

Email templates can save you a significant amount of time. Use them as your base email and tweak the opening and closing sentences for that extra touch of personalization.

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for: here are some sales follow-up email templates for those special situations.

Scheduling a meeting

This ones for when you sent suggested times from your calendar a few days ago but the prospect hasn't responded yet.

follow up email template

No show

No shows: they happen to the best of us. Try to get them back on your calendar with this follow-up note:

follow up email template

After sales demo

This situation requires a bit more effort as you need to add some personalization about the demo-call discussion and a summary of the business value. Make sure you add lots of call tasks to your follow up sequence as after the demo is when contacts most often go dark.

follow up email template

After leaving voicemail

Always try and get your prospects on the phone! Its the most direct way to book a meeting or get a referral. Your follow-up emails should be short, simple, and focus on getting them on a call.

follow up email template

After event

Events are great opportunities to make real, in-person connections. But no matter how many business cards you handed out, dont count on anybody to reach out to you.Take the initiative with this follow-up a couple days after:

follow up email template

Asking for referral

Your contact told you they aren't the right person to talk to and you asked for a referral. Use this one to give them a gentle nudge:

follow up email template

Not the right time

This ones designed specifically for contacts that ask you to reach back out in a few months. When you get a response like that, schedule this follow up right away for 2-3 months from now, otherwise they'll slip through the cracks.

follow up email template

Following up your follow-up

Two words: be persistent. It takes an average of eight touches to get a response from a prospect. Follow up your follow ups every couple of days like this:

follow up email template

Inbound lead

A promising prospect requested a demo - lucky you! They'll probably respond to your first email, but if not, this is how you can follow up and book that discovery call:

follow up email template

The last attempt

At some point, you have to let unresponsive prospects go. Leave them with links to your favorite to white papers, case studies, or webinars and move on.

follow up email template

Want more follow-up email and sequence tips? Check out these resources:


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