Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.48.51 PMJust when you thought you felt a spark, now you’re not hearing back from a warm prospect. Was it something you said? Are they just not that into you? If you’re struggling to engage a prospect, it may be time to let them know that you’re walking away from them—in email terms anyway.

Also known as ‘breaking up via email’, this practice is much more acceptable in business than it is in real life. The breakup email, when used strategically, is one of the most effective ways to get the attention of a prospect who isn’t responding.

Example: high school. What was the best way to capture your crush’s attention? By not paying attention to them… at all. The moment your crush (or in this case, your prospective client) notices that you’re no longer pursuing them, they’ll scramble to win you back.

Why breakup emails work:

Breakup emails trigger an emotion —but only if the lead cared about you in the first place. If he never truly intended to work with you, he’ll ignore the email and you can both move on. If he does want to pursue a partnership but hasn’t taken action yet, a breakup email will likely trigger the reaction you’re looking for and help move him along the pipeline.

Think about it this way: with an inbound sales approach, each email you send offers valuable knowledge to your client, no matter their level of commitment. When you stop offering emails with value, the prospect may begin to realize exactly what he’s missing. Katharine Derum, a senior sales manager at HubSpot, says her team sees a 33% response rate on breakup emails, but only if that email is in a sequence that suggests the client cares about the relationship.

When to send a breakup email:

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 12.42.16 PMYou’ll know it’s time to send a breakup email when you’ve made a solid attempt to contact a lead that’s elicited little to no response. You don’t want to send it too early! Before throwing in the towel and crafting a more direct note, tap other forms of contact (phone, LinkedIn, VM) as a final effort.

One thing to keep in mind is that your cadence should reflect the value of the account. If you really want to land it, try a more personalized approach before sending a breakup email. Your tone should also reflect the client’s activities; if she’s constantly clicking links or forwarding your note, don’t sent a breakup email. Send her something more personalized or call.

How to craft a breakup email

  • Politely remind the prospect that you’ve been trying to reach them. Explain why you’re contacting them (the value you want to offer) and what your call to action is (what you want them to do).
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  • Explain that you don’t want to pester them, and will not continue to contact them if you don’t hear back.
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  • Tease them with value. Let them know that all of the valuable information you’ve been sending them will no longer be sent to their inbox.
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  • Be direct. Make it clear that you’ll stop all communication with the prospect unless he takes action. This will prompt him to add you to their to-do list or give you a signal that he’s not worth investing more time in.

Though they may sound harsh, breakup emails are an effective strategy to win back the attention of a potential prospect. This type of message highlights the value you’ve provided and helps prospects realize that they need to take action in order to continue to build the relationship. If they don’t respond— it’s not you, it’s them.

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