How to get a prospect to reply to your second (or third, or tenth) email

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22nd February 2018

You’re beyond thrilled. Your prospect replied to your cold email wanting to learn more. You reply with the additional information they asked for, included times you were available to speak and hit send, thrilled to continue the conversation you’ve started.

And nothing happens. A few days of silence turn into a couple of weeks. As sadness fades doubt settles in, leaving you feeling like a bit of a failure.

why don't prospects reply to emails

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. We’ve all been there! Your prospect sounded genuinely interested, you were professional and prompt in your reply and then – radio silence. Why didn’t your prospect reply to your second email? There could be a million reasons: email overload, a vacation you weren’t aware of, new deadlines they had to meet—anything. These situations can leave you in a dilemma. You don’t want to let your warm lead die, but you also don’t want to be so relentless in following up that you alienate your prospect completely.

At Slingshot Edge Towers we’ve developed a tried and true method that gets your prospect to reply to those elusive second, third, or tenth follow-up emails. What’s our secret? It all starts with a subject line that’s custom-written to your prospect’s chimp brain. Let’s see how it works.

Information overload isn’t going away any time soon. Neither is email. According to this recent post from Constant Contact, business communication still runs on email. And therein lies the tension: one of the key business tools we rely on overwhelms us from time to time. Everyone has a hard time keeping up with email.

That’s why it’s so disappointing to stop to hearing from a prospect who’s replied to previous emails. Before you give up on them, take a minute and re-evaluate the situation. Though they’ve gone silent it’s fair to assume that since they’ve replied to you before, they want to keep the conversation going.

Write to your prospect’s chimp
getting a reply to your second email

So don’t give up. To break through this impasse and get things back on track, write an email to your prospect’s chimp. Here’s how.

First you want to include a bit of contrast, so don’t simply forward or reply to your previous email. Start with a fresh note. This will set your email apart and increase the probability that the chimp will read it.

Next, write a subject line that will get the chimp to act. Emails with canned, stuffy, or overly sales-ey subject lines will put your prospect’s chimp right to sleep. Now’s the time to get creative, so go with something punchy and personal. You’ve already made a connection with your prospect, so keep that experience going in your note. Here are two that work like gold for us:

“Still with me my friend?”

“Have I lost you?”

(I learned these exact words from @johnBarrows who provides very gnarly training to some of the world’s fastest-growing companies.)

Why do these work?

  • They’re simple and clear. This increases the chance the chimp will notice them.
  • They use contrast and surprise. Most emails that arrive from sales people either overtly try and get your prospect to do something (“Read this…”, “Look at our great stuff…”) or pressure the reader to respond (“Maybe you missed my last email – we should meet”). Instead, the “Have I lost you” line suggests that the sender, the normally pushy sales person, has made a mistake and they want to take responsibility – highly unusual! There’s the contrast, and the surprise. That’s what gets the attention. Now the secret sauce that causes action.
  • They trigger your prospect’s emotion. If your prospect is human AND you haven’t done anything wrong, their emotional side will kick in and try and correct the implication that the email silence is all your fault. After all you have already established a connection. They’ll respond, usually to explain they’ve just been swamped or been away or some other perfectly understandable reason.

Apply the same rules to the body of your email. Keep your message brief and be sure to expand the connection you’ve made. This will show you want to keep the conversation going without putting any pressure on your prospect.

Here’s a pro tip. The above subject lines are so powerful you won’t have to spend a ton of time crafting the body of your email. Once upon a time I received an email with one of those subject lines from a colleague. It didn’t even have a message in the body of the email but it didn’t matter—I couldn’t reply fast enough once I saw it. The words in the subject line hit my chimp brain in the best way possible, and I felt waves of relief as my human brain responded to his email and hit “reply.” We had a laugh about the communication gap, and things got back on track in no time.

That’s Chimp Theory in action. Try it next time you’re on the waiting end of an email reply, and contact us to learn how to use other techniques like these to close more sales.

If you’ve read this far, here are two more that have worked for us:

“Did I make a mistake?”

“Was it something I said?”

If you have a subject line that’s worked in this situation please email it to us. We’d love to see them, and promise we’ll reply.