In a previous blog post, we looked at some numbers from the recently released Sales Optimization Study, which suggested that the optimal number of follow-up calls for leads was around six. (For purposes of this study, a “lead” was defined as someone who’d made an inquiry.) The study also examined a related question: What’s the most effective strategy for e-mail follow-up of leads?

The study found that leads who received an e-mail had a 16% higher chance of being contacted by phone. In other words, a well-timed e-mail made prospects more willing to take your call.

The study also found that conversion rates are highest when the prospect receives five e-mails, spaced over the first three weeks or so. If you think that sounds like a lot of e-mails, apparently you’re not alone — because the study also found that about 40% of prospects with a valid e–mail address on file didn’t even receive a single e-mail.

Of course, results may vary depending on your market and approach, but the specific numbers are less interesting than the general pattern. It suggests that many salespeople aren’t using follow-up e-mails as much as they could. Perhaps they’re concerned that prospects will be resentful of the intrusion, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Which makes sense: If a prospect provided an e-mail address as part of an inquiry, they probably won’t be surprised to hear from you. In fact, the e-mail seems to prime them to accept your next call.

Timing matters as well. The company sponsoring the research recommends that the initial e-mail go out within 20 minutes of the initial inquiry (which in most cases will be an autoresponder). After that, they recommend that follow-up e-mails be sent on the 4th, 8th, 15th and 22nd days after the initial inquiry, interspersed with follow-up phone calls.

You can see the details of the study here.

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