Just Stop

Just, adverb: only or merely.

Please consider removing the word “just” from your vocabulary, or at the very least from your follow up email correspondence.

Just floating this to the top of your inbox…”

“Just following up on…”

“Just checking in on…”

“Just wanted to….”

“Just blah, blah blah…”

These are the most common opening sentences or subject lines from salespeople trying to engage or re-engage with a prospect. When I coach salespeople using this type of language in their correspondence to prospects, I often ask why they are doing that. The reply I get most often is “I don’t want to be a pest or seem too aggressive.” The issue is, in the absence of value or purpose, these types of messages actually are pesky and aggressive. It telegraphs to the recipient you have nothing of real value to share or say. Nothing of interest to the prospect. Nothing to get their attention. Nothing about or for them. As a result, the message goes unopened, unread, unsold. Using the word “just” basically devalues and deemphasizes the rest of your message.

A better way to engage or re-engage a prospect is to lead with value, or if they have gone dark somewhere in your sales cycle, use a provocative question or statement.

Leading with value:

What value can you offer your prospect? What is the benefit to them in reading your email or granting your request? In his book, The Lost Art of Closing author Anthony Iannarino discusses trading value for time. By which he means sharing ideas and insights into how they, the prospect, can produce better results. It’s important to note these ideas need to be relevant, and client-focused. Not about your specific product or solution.

Provocative questions & statements:

The goal of asking a provocative question is to provoke thought. To get your prospect thinking about themselves in a way that includes you without it appearing self-serving. There are plenty of great resources on following up with prospects. Two of my favorites are Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss and Exactly What to Say, by Phil M. Jones.

Here are some examples of better opening or subject lines using questions to re-engage.

  1. “You probably haven’t gotten around to …”  This language reminds them that they made a commitment to you, i.e., they indicated they needed to share the information with someone internally and committed to getting back to you by a specified date.
  1. “I suspect you may have gotten distracted with something more pressing…”  Try acknowledging you know they have other responsibilities and, while your solution may still be important to them, it isn’t currently urgent.
  1. “This may be of interest to you…”  This language allows you to re-engage with a prospective customer or client by offering them something of value, typically information, e.g., a white paper or article relevant to them.
  1. “It has been several weeks since we last spoke. Perhaps you have made a decision to …”  Let them know you realize they may have decided not to move forward with you and have not communicated their decision.
  1. “Have you given up on…?”  Asking this question assumes you did a good job discovering what your prospect is trying to accomplish and why it is important to them. If they said they were trying to streamline their operation and you provide that service, you could ask “Have you given up on trying to streamline your operation?” If they don’t respond to this, you’ll have your answer!

These statements may appear assertive, or even bold, and they have a far better chance of engaging or re-engaging a prospect than just saying “just.”