Recently, I was at Enterprise Sales Forum in New York listening to Steli Efti talk about startup sales.

Steli is the CEO of and very passionate when it comes to sales.

He recounted a story where he had to follow up with one investor 48 times in order to get a meeting. That’s right: 48 times.

Up until then, I thought I was really committed to following up.


But I was wrong.

Of course, I am not suggesting that go for all 48 times.

The point is that follow-ups are really, really, critical when you actually want to close a deal.



The fear syndrome and “No”

There are so many reasons why prospects will not respond to your emails or phone calls.

Most of the reasons have nothing to do with your as a person.

A lot of us don’t follow-ups for so many assumed reasons like:

  • The prospect doesn’t like me
  • I don’t have an ironed out shirt
  • I am too tired
  • I’ll probably follow up tomorrow
  • It’s too early to call
  • It’s too late to call

We assume a lot of things.


So we give ourselves so many excuses.

But you know what’s the real reason, we’re all afraid.

I’m afraid of rejection. You’re afraid of rejection. We’re afraid of the “NO”.

We are afraid that when we are direct and request a meeting, she will say NO.



4 ways to determine the number of cold email follow-ups

To help us think about follow ups consider the illustration below.


Cold Email Follow Ups


On the horizontal axis we have time, and on the vertical, there is the number of touches.

  • Time: how many times, days, weeks, months or whatever methods you use, should I follow up?
  • Touches: which channel (phone, email, social, etc) should I use to connect with this prospect?

There are four zones we all fall into every now and then in our follow ups.


Zone 1: Quit

In a short period of time, we do so few follow ups.

And we don’t get any positive replies.

We think it doesn’t lead to anything.

We give ourselves excuses.

We quit.

For example, you send out a thousand emails to a thousand people (by the way before you ever send 1000 emails, consider quality sales emails over quantity).

And you had no replies


Zone 2: Casual

There is also another zone we sometimes operate from. It’s the casual zone.

Over a period of time (could be a long or short period of time) we make very small touches.

The intent is more of nurture than urgency. If this is a warm lead, that’s okay.

But if it’s totally cold, and they have not responded but you keep nurturing over a period of time – you might want to reconsider your strategies.

Nurturing is good for warm lead.

If it’s a cold lead, you want to get to a Yes or No as soon as possible.


Zone 3: Annoy

This is self explanatory. We’ve all been there.

Over a short period of time, we are bombard b2b leads with a ton of emails and phone calls.

Instead of being a professional, we lose our heads and become annoying.


Remember we reach out to people because we genuinely feel we can add some value.

We want to be respectful and polite but we want to be persistent.

For example, you just cannot send 10 emails in seven days to a cold lead who has not responded.


Zone 4: Persist

This is one of my favorite zones.

Over a long period of time, we make a relatively high number of touches.

We were actually very consistent over a long period of time.

It shows that we are in for the long term game.

I get questions a lot with what’s the difference between persistence and annoyance?

It is the thin line between persistence and annoyance; it is the number of times and the touches you made over a period of time.




How many times to follow up on cold emails

There’s nothing wrong or right with any of these zones (maybe just one – which is don’t be annoying!).

But there are times that you have to quit.

Because you realise the lead is no longer qualified (e.g. they left the company).

There are also times where you have to be casual (e.g. the decision maker deals with an long term company crises.

The best place that we’ve found for our cold outreaches is to be consistently persistent.

Stay in the game for the long term. Be consistent, follow up.

That’s how you get that meeting.

That’s how you get that deal. You’re well intentioned. You have good ideas.

Follow up and get that meeting.

Let me know if you have other exciting systems for following up in the comment section.



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Kwesi Sakyi-Gyinae

Kwesi is the Founder at Katallyze. exists to help you get qualified leads and grow your business
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