Here’s a scenario that any salesperson can relate to, whether they’re an entry-level sales rep or an expert seller with decades of experience: a prospect demonstrates interest in a product, responds to inquiries with enthusiasm– and then, out of nowhere, they disappear.
A prospect going cold is one of the most frustrating challenges that a salesperson can face. While they attempt to re-engage the prospect, they have to simultaneously play the role of detective, investigating why the prospect stopped responding, what (if anything) they did wrong as a salesperson, and what steps they need to take in order to rekindle their connection.
If you’re tired of sending the same old follow-up emails and getting nothing in return, today’s blog post is for you. We’ll explore the inherent flaws in the commonly-used “just touching base” message, and provide you with eight better methods to re-engage with cold prospects.
What’s wrong with “touching base” with cold prospects?
“Just wanted to touch base about our previous conversation.” No matter what industry you work in, we’re sure you’ve encountered that sentence or a similar one– and if you work in sales, you’ve likely sent this sort of follow-up message yourself.
Of all the business jargon we use, the phrase “touch base” has become one of the most ubiquitous– and one of the most disliked. In fact, a recent survey revealed that “touch base” was the third-most hated corporate buzzword for respondents to hear in any context (source).
Whether you actually use the phrase “touch base” or a similar one in sales follow-ups is besides the point. Let’s look beyond the semantics and explain why most attempts to re-engage cold prospects fall short:
- Unclear call-to-action: Prospects often ignore “touch base” emails out of confusion rather than annoyance. These messages force the prospect to do the work of re-reading previous messages and recalling the details of conversations they might’ve had weeks or months ago. And, even if they take those steps, they might still struggle to understand what the salesperson is asking them to do now.
- Lack of value: Salespeople often “touch base” with a cold prospect without offering any good reason for the prospect to re-engage. It doesn’t matter if value was expressed in previous correspondence– again, the sales rep in this scenario is asking the prospect to do work and recall what attracted them to a value proposition they heard in the past.
- Failure to stand out: A prospect’s inbox is likely inundated with messages from strangers asking them to “touch base” about this or “circle back” to that. Most people see these phrases and their eyes glaze over as they scroll the remainder of the email. Sales reps might avoid this overused jargon, but that doesn’t mean their dry, indistinct follow-up emails will stand out in an inbox full of similar messages.
If you’ve just realized why your sales prospecting efforts have been falling short, keep reading. Below, we’ll provide you with some alternatives to “touching base” that will give you a better chance at recapturing the interest of a prospect who’s gone cold.
8 Effective Methods for Re-Engaging Cold Prospects
Prospects go cold for a number of reasons– they might have experienced changes in their professional or personal lives, directed their attention to solving a different issue, or just been too busy to follow up.
Therefore, re-engaging a cold prospect requires you to regain two things: their attention and their interest. The following methods will help you do just that.
1. Lead with business value.
“What’s in it for me?” That’s the question you should answer when you reach out to a prospect, whether it’s the first or the fifth time you’ve contacted them.
Don’t assume that a prospect who initially showed interest in your product is still interested, or that they remember what you were offering them when you last spoke. If you want to get them talking again, reinforce the value they can expect to receive.
Example: Last month we discussed how [product} can solve your problem of [pain point] and ultimately help your company achieve [desired business result]. Let’s book some time to talk more about solving [paint point]. How does [date and time] work for you?
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2. Speak to common but specific pain points.
Potential customers only want to engage with salespeople who demonstrate a deep understanding of their needs and pain points. So, rather than emphasize the value your product delivers, you can try to re-engage a cold prospect by highlighting relatable problems that similar companies or potential buyers are facing .
We recommend speaking to challenges that are as timely and specific as possible– don’t just copy and paste a handful of pain points the prospect can find on your website.
For example, let’s say you identify a recent trend or development– like a new compliance regulation, an economic downturn, a widespread technological issue, etc.– that has created new challenges for potential buyers in a specific industry. Mentioning these challenges to a prospect will show them that you’re not only here to help, but you also have a thorough understanding of their top priorities.
Example: Since [trend or event], a lot of our customers have recently expressed some challenges with [problem]. Have you been experiencing this as well? Let me know if you’re available to chat about some possible solutions. Are you free for a quick call on [date and time]?
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3. Ask questions.
Asking high-gain questions as part of your sales follow up yields impressive results and is actually rooted in human psychology. Science shows that the human brain naturally reacts when confronted with a question– the question triggers a reflex and effectively takes over the person’s thought process until they’ve answered it (source).
So, asking the right questions is almost a guaranteed way to get a cold prospect’s attention. It’s not a guarantee that they’ll respond– they might answer the question in their head and then move on, of course– but this method will, at the very least, engage them in thought patterns that are directly or indirectly related to your product.
Example: I know you’re responsible for running [strategy]. What systems are you currently using to help you accomplish [task]? I’d love to learn more about your process and see if I can be of assistance!
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4. Send them useful branded content.
A cold prospect might not be ready to speak directly about the product or service you’re offering. But, you can still provide value and facilitate further communication by sending them content they’ll find useful and engaging.
In the age of digital selling, content plays a critical role in the sales process–whether a prospect is actively pursuing a purchase or has gone cold after initially showing interest. Consider these statistics:
- 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say that online content has a moderate to major effect on their purchasing decisions (source).
- 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get information from articles rather than an advertisement (source).
- Brand recall is 59% higher for branded content than any other type of digital advertisement (source).
Send a cold prospect a recent article, case study, infographic, eBook, or podcast episode that either speaks to the pain points you’ve identified or simply contains timely, useful information. This method is a great way to establish authority and build trust, as you’re helping the prospect without directly pitching a product.
Example: Hope you’re doing well! I wanted to give you an early look at our brand-new eBook about [topic]. I know in the past you expressed the challenge of [pain point] and I think this resource should give you some super-helpful food for thought! Let me know what you think.
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5. Send them relevant content from other publications.
Branded content is a valuable tool to re-engage prospects, but it does have one key downside: you’re still “selling” your company and its products by pushing content ultimately designed to guide prospects further down the sales funnel.
When it comes to cold prospects, you might have better luck if you provide them with content that doesn’t come from your company. It might be a news article, industry report, YouTube video, inspiring Twitter thread– you name it.
To ensure success with this method, start by examining the prospect’s activity on social media and any other online channels where they’re consistently active. What content do they engage with? What are their favorite publications? What kind of news stories do they share and respond to?
This information will help you understand where the prospect’s interests lie and what kind of content they’ll appreciate in their inbox. Sure, you might have to follow up again with a more direct call-to-action– but you’ll do so having just built up a greater degree of trust with the prospect.
Example: I just finished reading this great article in [publication] and thought you might find it just as thought-provoking as I did! Let me know what you think and have a great rest of your week!
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6. Invite them to an event.
Even if a prospect doesn’t want to join a call about a product, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in accepting an invitation to something else– like an in-person event or a virtual webinar.
The right virtual or live event will double as a chance for the prospect to engage with your company and a worthwhile networking opportunity, where they’ll be able to make other valuable connections in their industry.
When it comes to cold prospects, personalized invitations are key. Tell them why this event or presentation will be worthwhile to them, specifically. Not only will you increase the likelihood that they’ll attend, but you’ll also reinforce how well you understand their unique interests and needs.
Example: I’m reaching out to extend an invitation to [event or webinar] on [date and time]! I know you’re interested in [topic], which we’ll be covering extensively in one of our sessions! Plus, you’ll get the chance to connect with business leaders from a number of high-profile companies, including [attending companies].
Let me know if you’re interested or want to learn more about the event. Hope to see you there!
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7. Congratulate them on a recent achievement.
Everyone loves to be recognized or patted on the back after a big win. So, when a prospect achieves a significant milestone, it’s a great opportunity to strengthen your connection with them via a genuine congratulatory message.
These achievements might be individual or company wins– maybe the company just closed a blockbuster deal, or the prospect just updated their LinkedIn page to reflect the promotion they received. Either way, congratulating the prospect will show that you’re actively invested in their success.
Example: I was thrilled to see the news about [achievement] and wanted to say congratulations! Glad to see all the amazing work you do as a [job title] has paid off in such a big way.
I know you’ve got to be pretty busy at the moment, but do you have some time on [date and time] to talk about solving your challenges with [pain point] that we discussed earlier? Organizations that experience [characteristic specific to achievement] often find they start to struggle with [pain point associated with achievement]. Let me know if that’s something I can help with– and again, congrats!
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8. Respond to their content.
We already mentioned several ways to share valuable content with a cold prospect– but you can also find success by engaging with the content that they post. Spend some time on their social media pages and see what they’ve shared recently. You can even set up alerts so that you’re notified every time they post something new.
Don’t simply respond to the newest thing on their feed– engage with something you genuinely find interesting and can offer your own perspective about. It might be a blog post the prospect shared, a byline they wrote for an industry publication, an interesting news story, an opinion they shared in a Tweet, etc.
You can use this content to start a conversation, or, for a softer touch, simply comment beneath their post to keep your name fresh in their mind.
Example: I saw that article you shared about [topic] earlier today, that was a fascinating read! I’ve also been reading a lot about [topic or trend] and your post gave me a lot of new things to think about.
Are you still interested in learning more about solving [challenge]? How would [date and time] work for you?
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If you work in sales, you’re inevitably going to suffer the frustration of losing prospects and failing to recapture their interest. People experience changes, leave companies, switch roles, establish different priorities– the list of reasons why a prospect might cut off communication is practically endless.
But, that frustrating reality does not diminish the influence a salesperson can have on a prospect who’s temporarily gone cold. Retire the bland sales email templates and try some of the more creative methods we covered in today’s post– you might be one message away from re-engaging a cold prospect that becomes a satisfied customer.
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