A Better Meeting Follow-Up Email
You just had a good meeting with a client or potential new client. Now you're challenged to move the conversation forward. It's time to send the meeting follow-up email.
The three biggest mistakes I see sellers making are:
- Failing to secure key details & commitments before the meeting ends
- Recounting what happened in the meeting
- Sending follow up emails that don't hold customers accountable to the next step
Remember, business email is transactional. Not conversational.
Beware: Trying to converse within the message may be sabotaging you. Clients don't have time for "thank you so much" type conversation, especially follow-up email messages. Your follow-up is, by nature, highly deletable because most are simply a recount of what happened during the meeting.
Clients have been trained to delete follow ups because they're just not important!
Here's a better way to keep clients committed to moving forward with you.
Get These 5 Details Before the Meeting Ends
As the meeting unfolds, in your head (or on a piece of paper) summarize these points:
Current situation: In simple terms, describe the client's decision-making environment.
Business priorities: How this discussion fits into the strategic (not functional) picture.
Priorities when making this decision: Jot down what the client says they are.
Timeline and process: How much time the client needs to make decisions, what are they and who is involved.
Next steps: Any suggested next steps you or your client discuss during the meeting.
This is an excellent way to conclude your meeting. Ask your client to confirm your current understanding before the meeting ends. This takes all the work out of writing your pithy follow up email.
Get commitments before the meeting ends
It sound obvious. But are you doing it? Are you earning a commitment for the next meeting before the first one ends?
My hero and sales trainer, John Barrows, likes to point out how we tend to give ... and give ... and give ... and give ... until the very end when we finally get (the sale).
But here's the problem: By giving clients everything they ask for we're conditioning them to treat us poorly.
Barrows says, "Because we've given so much, clients feel like they can do whatever they want. So what we need to do is make sure we get something all the time in return for what we're giving away."
In the case of your first meeting or demo that something is the next scheduled meeting date.
Barrows says this has to do with human instinct, reciprocity. And he's right.
When your prospect asks for something there's a fleeting moment where they feel obligated to give you something in return.
"And if you ask for it right then-and-there it's actually easy for them to give you," says Barrows.
So when they ask you for something, toward the end of the meeting, there's that moment right after you gave them something ... where they're open to giving something back.
For example, it might go like this:
Your client says, “Great. Love it. Thanks for that. Send me some information and we'll get back to you soon.”
You reply, "Sure, I can do that. But first what information would you like ... and second when can we schedule fifteen minutes to go over that information ... and see if it makes sense to take the next steps?”
A Proven, Effective Template Example
Remember, email templates don't work unless you customize them. Without personalization of your messages you'll end up deleted. Bank on it.
Remember to avoid "thank you for taking the time to meet with me" type of chit-chat. They should be thanking you, right? Right. Keep it transactional, not conversational. Help them do their job — hit reply and confirm you are on track.
Get them to re-commit to moving forward!
The below meeting follow up template gives you specific advantages. It:
- holds clients accountable for what they are telling you without being rude
- gauges their interest
- maintains a sense of urgency
- helps you re-engage strongly if/when the prospect goes dark
Subject line: Please confirm?
Please review the below — confirm I'm accurate on these?
- Priority one
- Priority two
- Priority three
Statement of Work requirements: (your customer's priorities when making this decision)
- Requirement one
- Requirement two
- Requirement three
Time line: (things that must happen in order for the final decision to transact)
- Milestone / project one
- Milestone / project two
- Milestone / project three
Next steps: (be sure to include commitments made, if any)
- Step you mentioned during meeting
- Step they mentioned during meeting
Please confirm the above is accurate—and guide me if not?
The idea here is to earn a response that is, in effect, a confirmation and further commitment. If you ran a proper meeting the prospect gave you time on their calendar. Put this commitment in writing. You may need it later — if and when they "go dark" on you (don't respond).
My students do better with this kind of technique. However, this doesn't mean you cannot improve on it. What can you add or subtract from the above template — to make it stronger in your specific selling context?
Are there other key meeting takeaways that are not included here — or can be added to strengthen it?
Let me know in comments!
Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded the Google Affiliate Network in 1999, and has been selling for 18 years. Jeff is adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s business school, a social sales trainer and author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You. Most social selling trainers teach the value of engaging customers and providing relevant content. Then they demonstrate the technology. But no one tells you exactly how to produce leads and sales—using a proven, systematic approach to content. Until now.