So the marketing team has passed you a lead, you've set to work, but you're not getting any responses to your messages? Do your emails and direct messages seem to disappear into the online ether? Then it might be time to pause and rethink your communication strategy. 

Communicating in an appealing, customer-facing way is harder than it looks. And it’s really easy to stumble. Yet you are a human, reaching out to another human being with good intentions, so perhaps the most difficult part is standing out from the crowd.

Here are five tips for when following up with potential customers:

1. Don't be a robot 

Messages like “Dear Sir/Madam, I hope this email finds you well...” lack personality. They’ll likely make a recipient’s eyes glaze over instantly. For meaningful engagement and better response, I find it’s vital to provide a real human touch.

For example, I noticed that one potential lead had recently shared a clip from Planet Earth on LinkedIn. Being a fan of that show (and David Attenborough’s soothing voice) myself, I commented on the video. This immediately opened up a dialogue and allowed me to re-engage with the contact.

2. Try something different

In today’s busy digital environment, it’s important to think about how you can stand out from the crowd. Consider, for example, these two email headlines: “Bob’s high-quality cleaning service introduction” or “Guess how many London offices have mice?” Which is more engaging? Obviously, the image of mice in offices is far more vivid and emotive – no matter how high-quality Bob’s cleaning service may be!

According to TOPO only 24% of sales emails are opened. 

Yet, in one experiment, the ESP CommuniGator found that having no subject line increased CTR from 2% to 5%. This shows that standing out works and it might be something worth trying.

3. Go multi-channel & multi-touch

If anything has changed in the past 20 years, it’s the volume of channels available to connect with our audiences. Each channel serves a different purpose in a multi-touch approach to reaching your target. 

The telephone is great for extracting quality information… when you get through! LinkedIn messages, on the other hand, are a bit like hidden Easter eggs  – they'll get seen eventually. However, those messages need to be different and relevant to stand out from the many other communications your prospect will be receiving.

Like eggs, don’t put all your efforts into one basket. A multi-channel approach, I’ve found, is key to maintaining target-audience engagement.

4. Make sure you're talking to the right person 

Imagine you’ve followed the above tips and expended a lot of effort to reach an individual… only to discover it isn’t really the person you need to be talking to about this. This happens, but it's all part of the qualification process. So how do you get to the bigger picture? 

Phrases like "Is there anyone else who needs to be involved in this?" or "Who else is in your team?" (said politely, of course) are simple and inoffensive questions to give you a little more insight into the buying team. 

When you’ve got the right person, you can focus your attention on engaging with them knowing they hold (or are the main influence on) the purse strings.

5. Be persistent and consistent 

It’s important to be patient and persistent with your potential leads. You’ll usually need to hit multiple touch points to make a sale.

Think about it this way: would you buy a service right from the first call? How about from the first email? Well, according to Hubspot, it can take an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer, but most sales people give up after 1.3 attempts to call someone. 1.3! 

A lot of research supports the idea you need to engage multiple times with your contacts – Dr. Jeffrey Lant with his ‘Rule of Seven’, for example, or Salesforce’s notion that a sale can take between six and eight attempts.

As important as persistence is, consistency is also vital: people are more likely to respond to a name they recognise, or to read a newsletter they’ve come to expect at the same time each week.

Going forward

A refreshed understanding and approach to connecting with your audience will set you in the right direction for the future, yet replicating this across your team mates will allows these results to multiply. Plus, beyond the four walls of your business, external partners and agencies need to understand this approach when they're executing campaigns on your behalf.  

Don't be afraid of becoming the thought leader in your organisation and becoming the voice of your audience to the rest of the team.