Follow up strategy: How to craft a killer cold email sequence

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Yes, the first cold email is really important.

And a well crafted email with all the right ingredients – personalized, packed with value, social proofing, a clear CTA – has a huge chance for new opportunities.

But in most cases, your first email may not invoke a response.

No, it’s not the fault of your email. It’s the time when you send the email.

Your prospect receives a bunch of cold emails each day, and your email is likely to get buried in their inbox if you haven’t sent it at the right time.

There are also chances that the prospect would have seen the email but were either too busy or distracted by something that prevented them from taking any action.

You never know unless you send them a second email.

Most sales development representatives hesitate to follow up with prospects. They don’t want to come across as spam or a stalker. So they send one cold email and wait for the prospect to respond. And when they don’t get a response, they give up.

That’s a wrong approach.

The key to getting a reply is to follow up on the email. Heather Morgan, the CEO of SalesFolk says, “Even if your first email doesn’t get a response, the second email has a 21% chance of being read.”

In this post, you will learn how you can put together a follow-up strategy for cold emails that will help you fill up your sales pipeline and ultimately close more deals.

Click here to download your free cold email follow up templates


Follow up strategy for different types of prospects

One of the most frequently asked questions by sales development representatives is “How often do I follow up with a prospect?” The answer would usually depends on how they interact with your email. A CRM software or email outreach tool with email tracking mechanism can help you figure that out.

Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

  • Prospects who responded positively at least once or shown some interest but suddenly went cold, follow up until you they respond. It’s alright even if they say a firm no, or ask you to stop sending emails as long as you have their answer and can move on to other prospects.
  • For prospects who have shown very little interest like opening and clicking on your email but hasn’t replied, follow up as long as they respond. Probably the prospect is interested in your offering but isn’t finding time to respond. You have the chance to show another value-add or benefit of your solution, or address another pain point so when the prospect is really interested in purchasing a solution, yours will be on top of their mind.
  • Prospects who aren’t interacting with your email, follow up six to eight times. There isn’t any point following up with them beyond this. Your emails are probably going to their spam filter, and might just hurt your reputation.


The right follow up frequency

This is a general schema to schedule the follow-up emails.

Day 1: The cold email

Day 3: Email 1 – The first follow up email

Day 7: Email 2 – A new thread with a different value-add and different timing

Day 12: Email 3 – Restating the call to action

Day 18: Email 4 – Permission to follow up (quasi-breakup email)

Day 23: Email 5 – A new email thread giving a link to a useful resource

Day 28: Email 6 – The breakup email

There on, a follow-up email every month

There are no hard and fast rules to set up the email cadence. It depends on the person, the context and the relationship you have with the person. For instance, if you’re following up with someone who is incredibly busy and important like the CEO of a company, it’s best to give more time between your follow up emails – 5 to 7 days after the first follow up email, and then an email each week.


Follow up email samples

Day 3: The first follow up email

For prospects who haven’t replied to your first email, send this email in the same thread. Provide a context that you had reached out to them earlier. This email should be a modified version of your first email – it should convey the same message in a different format.

Sample template:

Hey {first name},

I know my previous email might’ve been an ‘educated stab’ in the dark. I’d like to apologize if I caught you at the wrong time and if you found that email a little too sales-y.

I decided to reach out to your company only because I was confident that we could add value to your current system.

Is using a {solution and the benefit} a priority for your company? If so, may I propose a short email exchange or phone call— to decide if a serious conversation is warranted? If not, thanks for your time in considering.

Please let me know what you decide, {first name}?


Day 7: Email 2 – A new thread with a different value-add and different timing

Take this as an opportunity to provide another benefit of your solution, or address another pain point. You can also try sending this email at a different time.

Sample template:

Hi {first name},

I am reaching out to ask if you are happy with your current system.

We have helped many companies {quote the number}, improve {the benefit of your solution}.

Would you be interested in scheduling a 5-minute call so I could explain how you could better manage your service desk/help desk?

If not, thanks for considering.

I look forward to hearing from you {first name}.

Some links:

{Resource 1}

{Resource 2}

{Resource 3}


Day 12: Email 3 – Restating the call to action

Simply restate your desired call to action in this email without much explanation. It can be to get on a call, point you to the right person in the organization, or simply reply to your email.

Sample template:

Hi {first name},

I hope you had a chance to go through my previous email and it did not get buried in your inbox.

Could you connect me with the person who handles {department} in your organization, {first name}?

I look forward to you putting me in touch.


Day 18: Email 4 – The ‘Quasi’ breakup email

If you haven’t heard from the prospect after the third follow up email, you can send them a ‘quasi’ breakup email, something in the lines ‘if this does not lie in your domain, my apologies. I only wanted to know if this is relevant to you.’ The purpose of this email is to seek their permission to follow up. If they say a firm no, then you can cease your emails with them.

Sample template:

Hi {first name},

The optimist in me refuses to stop until I can reach and speak with you.

We have had great success with {customer 1} and {customer 2} by improving {benefit with your product name}.

Can we get on a short call on Wednesday at 10:00 am, {first name}?

If this does not lie in your domain, my apologies. It would be amazing if you could point me in the right direction.


Day 23: Email 5 – A new email thread giving a link to a useful resource

At this point, you are left with people who are fairly interested in your solution but haven’t responded to your call to action. Perhaps you didn’t send it at the right time, or probably this isn’t on their top priority list right now. This is the time when you can add value by sharing some helpful materials that are useful to their industry or job. The whole idea here is to nurture these leads in your sales campaigns.

Sample template:

Hi {first name},

I was just reading this article about the {impact of something on their business}.

I was hoping to have a small chat around this and talk about the processes in place for this at {company}.

{add social proofs to gain credibility and trust}

Would you mind if I drop a call next Wednesday to introduce myself, {first name}?


Day 28: Email 6 – The breakup email

The breakup email works for prospects who have shown interest but haven’t got the chance to reply to your email. It essentially works on the principle of loss aversion. This email also tends to work because you are turning the dynamics around by choosing to walk away than pursuing the prospect. Your breakup email shouldn’t show signs of disappointment or criticism.

Sample Template:

Hi {first name},

I’ve tried to reach you a few times to go over suggestions on how you can improve your {department that uses your solution}, but haven’t heard back.

Are you interested in {solving a problem} with {your solution} at {their company name}? Let me know with a yes or no.


The ‘win’ actually happens when you follow up, and following up by email is one of the best ways to increase conversion rate. When you follow up by phone, you can easily come across as being annoying and the chances of getting a ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ is much higher. There is a huge chance that they may turn you down even if they are genuinely interested in your solution.

The key is to keep your emails short and yet remain persistent. If the prospect has shown interest in your solution but did not reply to your email, keep following up with them until they respond. But if you haven’t got any response to your cold email, it’s best to stop after six emails and focus on more receptive recipients.

What’s your follow up cold email strategy? 

Let’s have a conversation. As an SDR, what’s your follow up cold email strategy? Go ahead and comment below, or tag your friends and colleagues into this discussion.

Cover illustration by Udhaya Chandran


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