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October 5, 2016

23 Better Alternatives to the “Just Checking In” Email

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“Just checking in” emails are the worst. If you’re sending an email, it’s obvious that you’re checking in -- you don’t need to say it again. In addition, “just checking in” emails don’t provide any value to the buyer. They don’t care that you want to get in touch with them, especially if you haven’t already provided them with a compelling reason to do so.

But salespeople often send “just checking in” emails because they’re so easy. It takes almost no thought or time to write some variation of, “Hi [Prospect], I haven’t heard back from you, so I wanted to check in. Cheers, [Salesperson].” (In fact, I timed that and it took 19 seconds for me to type.)

But the thing that makes “just checking in” emails so tempting to send -- their ease -- is the same the reason they’re worthless: They’re easy to write because they don’t provide any value to your buyer. If they never responded to your first email, chances are they didn’t feel it was worth their time. Why would you reinforce that impression by wasting their time even more?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should stop following up with prospects -- just that you put slightly more effort into it. Below are 23 things to reference in a follow-up email besides the obvious fact that you’re checking in.

23 Email Subjects That Are Better Than "Just Checking In"

If they never responded:

  1. Send them a short piece of actionable advice
  2. Send over a longer how-to guide and offer to follow up in person if they want
  3. Point out a weakness in their business that should be fixed
  4. Share an article relevant to their industry or profession
  5. Respond to a social message, then follow up with more resources
  6. Answer one of their questions on an online forum, then follow up with more resources
  7. Reference a relevant blog post they just published
  8. Send them a blog post your company has just published
  9. Recommend an event in their area
  10. Invite them to an upcoming webinar or educational event your company is hosting
  11. Send them a link to relevant press coverage of one of your highest-profile customers
  12. Call attention to something their competitor is doing well and ask how they plan to address it
  13. Bring up a common challenge your buyers face and ask if they’re experiencing it
  14. Send a, “Did this email get buried?” email
  15. Ask if they’re still interested in achieving X goal, then provide a suggestion for how to get there
  16. Send a breakup email to close the loop

If any of these trigger events occur:

  1. Congratulate a potential decision maker on a promotion: A former champion could now influence a purchase decision.
  2. Reach out to a decision maker after a blocker leaves the company: The road may be clearer for you for make a sale.
  3. Reach out to a new C-level executive: High-level changes can indicate a change in strategy.
  4. Congratulate them on a funding round: More resources usually means growth, and growth means addressing priorities that weren’t previously top-of-mind.
  5. Ask whether newly created positions relevant to your product reflect new company initiatives: Strategic shifts indicate changing needs.

If you lost the deal:

  1. Check how things are going a month after implementing a competitor’s product
  2. Check how things are going as their contract with a competitor is winding down

Bonus: 6 Times You Should Send a “Just Checking In” Email

Of course, every rule has an exception. If you’ve already started a sales process, there are many scenarios that could warrant a “just checking in” email. Usually, however, these scenarios have two things in common:

  • Your prospect made a commitment to do something and hasn’t done it, or has gone dark.
  • An email or call following up on any of these situations should presumably be focused on that missed commitment -- it’s not just a generic check-in.

Any or all of the following situations all but necessitate a “just checking in” call or email:

  1. If they told you to reach back out in X days/weeks/months
  2. If they went dark after a call
  3. If they didn’t show up to a scheduled call
  4. If they told you they needed a few days to make an internal evaluation, then went dark
  5. If they committed to to signing a contract and didn’t
  6. If they started a product trial but you haven’t heard back on their progress

If you're more of a visual learner, check out the handy infographic below (made by Visme).

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The rule of thumb for “just checking in” emails is essentially this: If you have a good reason to reach out or new value to provide, reach out. If you don’t, think of one. And if you can’t think of a single legitimate reason to follow up that would be beneficial to your prospect, don’t. Spend your time crafting more helpful emails, and your prospects (and your quota!) will thank you for it.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Topics: Sales Prospecting Sales Emails

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