The Art of Investor Follow Up — Part 2
At this point, you’ve established the first two critical steps of relationship building — made a great first impression through your pitch, and sent a clean follow up email. (If you missed either of these blogs, read them first here and here).
Now that your first email is off, there are generally 4 kinds of responses. In this blog, we’ll analyze each of them, share additional email templates, and explain how to properly respond and manage each one without being overwhelmed.
Response 1: No Response
Unfortunately, this may be the most common. But don’t be down; there are dozens of reasons why you haven’t gotten that reply — inbox overload, portfolio, internal issues, travel, and many other options — and it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested.. Focus on the next step, and simply schedule to send a short follow up one week after your first email.
Reply to the same email with a short text like this:
Hope you are doing great. Did you have a chance to see my email below? We are progressing with the round and would love to discuss with you.
After 2–3 weeks and these 2 emails and still no reply, you can push for an answer. The worst situation is the unknown — and your job is to filter through your leads to understand who is relevant and focus on them, and who is irrelevant. Send a third email with the following points:
- Reminder of the original meeting — 1 line
- Top company highlights — 1–2 lines
- Decision Assumption — “If I don’t hear back, I’ll assume it’s not relevant for now.”
If you still don’t get a reply, then consider them as an irrelevant lead and no need to continue following up. If they do reply, let’s take a look at responses 2,3, and 4 for how to handle it.
Response 2: NO
Besides not getting a response, this is the most common reply you will hear. While it sounds depressing, remember that being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and hearing no is part of the job. However, what you should do is ask for honest feedback for why they are passing. This can be some of the most valuable advice you hear and can help you with other investor approaches.
Response 3: Not Now
While this seems like a polite no (and sometimes that’s what it really is), often there is genuine interest from the investor. Listen to their feedback — if it’s too early stage, internal portfolio issues, or any issue that isn’t related to you, then it’s critical to stay in touch. A “no” today could be a “yes” in the future. So keep this investor on your follow up list and send quarterly updates. Remember — follow up is a long term game and takes time, and it’s up to you to remember these leads and keep track.
Response 4: YES
When an investor requests a meeting, accepts your request to meet, or asks you questions, this is a positive response. First — respond in a timely manner, within a day of receiving the email. If you aren’t able to respond to all their points so quickly, at the minimum send a message back acknowledging you received their message and will get back shortly. When you do respond, make sure you answer all questions they have — don’t avoid anything! If they are asking for specific financial or client information and you are not comfortable sharing so fast, then share the best overview materials you can at this point. I don’t recommend asking for an NDA in the early stages and it’s usually not necessary with investors either, except with specific industries or later stages of diligence.
From this point on, make sure you follow up after 2 weeks of no reply, even if it’s just to check in, and share regular updates that can be meaningful for them to help move the process forward and make a decision. If the investor passes, thank them for their time and get any honest feedback you can. If appropriate, you can even ask if they would recommend any other investors (and many times they will). Then, keep going with the open leads you already have, and work on approaching additional investors and repeating these steps.
Follow up can be overwhelming, and requires a lot of effort and motivation. It’s a long term game that requires a lot of hustling, hearing many no’s, and constant tweaking. But with these strategies, you can stay ahead in the process and have a better chance of success. Good luck!