“Should I follow up with that prospect again? I haven’t heard back from them since my last email to them…”
So goes one of the most vexing questions in prospecting. How often do I follow up, to stay “top of mind” relevant for the products and the services I provide– while not coming across as a too persistent, harassing, pushy kind of person that will blacklist me from ever getting a relationship to become deeper and more profitable? After all, no one likes those kind of folks.
Let me share a simple, effective, and very powerful technique that can easily double the chances of taking this relationship forward.
I’ve used this technique for years, originally on HARO, the website where many entrepreneurs looking for media mentions and free publicity go to find reporters who submit what articles they are writing. You then pitch them your angle, slant, or relevant expertise to their topic, and if the reporter bites, then they respond to your pitch, getting you media coverage. (Created by social media wunderkind Peter Shankman, it’s in and of itself a lesson about how being willing to connect people in a win win envoirnment, for free, can turn into a multimillion dollar payday.)
I personally have gotten my very first major media mentions via HARO. It was how I got into The New York Times, Crain’s, Costco Connection, Fox Business, and even to speak and conferences, which ultimately led me to my gig at Google in Israel. And I did it by being relevant, spending time pitching the reporters, doing background research and developing media contacts via the site, but, starting out, using the very same technique that I’ve been teasing you about since the beginning of this article.
And here it is:
Email elegantly a second time.
No, don’t spam. Don’t even “follow up,” which is somewhat a more politically correct term than nudging. And if you do follow up, certainly not more than once.
So what can you do?
Let’s say you have a client who has a retail store. A hardworking entrepreneur, he or she is overloaded with work to do, especially during peak periods and busy seasons, and with only 24 hours in a day, and more work then that to do (never mind the need to eat and sleep… forget family life!) getting a response to a first email is certainly a challenge .
So after that first email, here’s how you’d elegantly email again:
1) Go online to a site like Google News.
2) Research your client’s industry.
3) Find a piece of news relevant to the client, that the client would find of value. Perhaps it’s pending legislation that would affect their business, an article about an entrepreneur who is changing the staid business model of that client’s industry, or even a piece of news relating to their local economy even if it isn’t directly business related.
4) Email them the link.
That’s it. You do not mention, at all, that you are waiting for a reply from them to that other email you sent previously.
You simply provide value, show them that you have been thinking about them, and, at the same time, you get your name on their radar for whatever service or product you happen to provide.
On these emails, you’ll often get a thank you from the client (or potential client) to whom you sent it. After all, even if they have seen this article elsewhere, but certainly if they have not, you have provided value to them, and, therefore, a word of thanks is certainly in order.
And when the thank you arrives, it will often mention your previous email. Something like: “Thanks for the interesting article! By the way about that email you sent me last week…”
That’s for sales emails. But how does this work to better your chances at other things, like media mentions? (HARO strongly forbids follow ups, because, as you can imagine, reports hate ’em!) So, how can you use this technique on HARO, for example?
Quite simply and effectively.
You simply do the following:
1) Email the reporter with your pitch (not just your name and contact info, but the actual pitch “meat” of what you want to say. I’ve gotten mentions in the media after never having heard back from the reporter at all but simply emailing the “black hole” and several weeks later, get an email saying, “I read your quote in the paper and was intruiged…”
2) Then, you go on Google and search for information on the topic relevant to said reporter. For example: “How does living near a cemetery affect real estate prices?” (That was my first time mentioned on NBC, via HARO!)
3) When you find something relevant, you email that to the journalist. You do NOT pitch again or follow up, but rather say “in addition to my pitch, I found this article you might find relevant to your research…” This means that you are the ONLY respondent who has two shots at a mention instead of just one. Plus, you’ve provided the reporter with tremendous value that they will appreciate — and are likely to reciprocate with a mention or at least a response leaving open the door to further interaction.
By letting your fingers do the walking and spending just a few minutes to show someone you are trying to get to that you are willing to expend energy to be of value to them, the boomerang effect comes into play. They will more then often reciprocacte, and help you get to where you want to go.