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Sales Enablement Program Manager
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“Let’s touch base next week!”
Shudder. How many times have you seen that in an email and immediately dismissed it? Even though “Let’s touch base” used to be a very popular way of reaching out to prospects and clients, it’s been a while—and today, it’s mostly seen as overused, kind of boring, and not very meaningful.
But while the phrase itself may have lost a bit of its shine, the sentiment behind it is still valuable. The trick is in conveying that message in a meaningful way.
In this article, I’ll break down what touch base means and share better alternatives you can use (and some tips we teach our reps to get better response rates in the process).
What is a “touch base” email?
A “touch base” email is a way to check in with a customer, associate, prospective client, and so on. For example, you might email a prospect to “touch base” about a product you recently discussed with them.
Or, you might send a “just touching base” email to a team member to check on their progress with a joint project. Basically, you’re reaching out to someone you haven’t heard from in a bit to gain information or request information. (“Let’s touch base.”)
The problems with “let’s touch base”
In a recent survey, “touch base” came in third for the least favorite piece of business jargon, just behind “synergy” and “teamwork.” (It’s also worth mentioning that the definition of touch base is quite specific to American English, so if you have clients in other countries, this isn’t a great go-to.)
Here are some other problems with most “touch base” emails:
The phrase is overused
It lacks a call to action (What are you asking for? What’s the request or next step for the other person?)
It doesn’t offer value to the receiver (What should the receiver expect? What’s in it for them?)
And besides, who says that touching base with someone has to happen over email?
When is email no longer the best way to touch base?
The message is too complex to convey over text
Some messages or ideas are just too complicated for a follow-up email. Have you ever tried to explain a concept to someone and grown frustrated when they don’t get it? Now imagine trying to email them that idea—it would be 10 times harder.
If it takes more than two to three emails to explain, or it’s a nuanced conversation that needs those inflections and tones, then use a form of communication that allows you to talk.
Some companies have a separate video conferencing tool, but if you can, go with an all-in-one communications platform (like Dialpad) that lets you have phone calls, send instant and SMS messages, and start video meetings all in one place:
You'll save on software subscription fees, and save time because you and your team won't have to manage so many disparate tools.
The receiver needs to give an immediate response
Emails can get lost in crowded inboxes, archived accidentally, or sent to spam folders. And sometimes, you can’t wait on a written response that might take a few days.
If you need an immediate response for a time-sensitive issue, reach out to your contact via text messaging, a phone call, or a video chat.
There's highly confidential information involved
Many companies, like Sony, have suffered massive security breaches before, where private documents and emails get leaked. In Sony's case, embarrassing and highly confidential emails were made public and served as headlines for weeks.
Emails are never private—even after they're deleted. If you need to have a confidential conversation, do it over a secure video conferencing platform if you can't meet in person.
Other tools you can use to get better (and more) responses
A unified communications platform
Some companies break these communication channels up into separate tools, but it's easier to use one app or platform that covers all of them:
A business phone system
Phone calls are still the best and most reliable way to reach most people, so you definitely need a phone system. Ideally, one that integrates with your CRM (so you can log and keep track of your outreach attempts).
Dialpad has some useful outreach-focused features, like voicemail drop, which makes it easier to touch base with a large number of people at once—just drop in your prerecorded message when you hit someone's voicemail instead of having to recite the same message over and over again:
Another note about business phone systems is that they may be set up with gatekeepers like executive assistants (EAs), dial-by-name directories, and other tools that act as barriers.
So how do you work the business phone system? A dial-by-name directory shouldn’t be too much of an issue. If you’re truly “touching base,” after all, you know who you’re looking to speak to. (Dialpad’s dial-by-name and dial-by-extension directory ask callers to input the name or extension of the person they’re trying to reach, and then sends them to that person.)
If you reach an EA or a voicemail, have a detailed and personalized message ready to go that you can leave for your recipient. Another tactic you can try is to reach out via a different channel. If a phone call didn't work, try reaching out through LinkedIn or by sending a text message.
Chat and SMS
Business messaging can help you connect with contacts and build relationships in new and exciting ways. On average, it takes 18 calls to connect with a buyer, and only 23.9% of sales emails are opened.
So, if you have the option, SMS and chat can be a good alternative way to connect. Dialpad lets you send business text messages from whichever device you’re working on:
👉 Dialpad tip:
Just remember, consent is important—don’t text someone on their personal phone number if they haven’t given you that number or told you that you can use it. Texting is a very personal form of communication, and if you abuse this channel, your message will most likely be ignored. Only contact someone on SMS if you already have a relationship with them and if you've established with that person that it’s okay to text them.
Video conferencing is a game-changer when it comes to building client relationships. Video meetings let you add an element of personalization to calls, which can open up doors in the future.
Meeting with someone face to face is almost always the best way to build relationships faster. You can pick up on visual cues and body language more easily, and now, even if you can't physically be in the same room with someone, you can still get the next best thing with video. Again, we use Dialpad to do this, and it's great that we can just use the same app that we'd use to make phone calls and send messages from.
Everyone likes getting a surprising gift every now and then. Gift-giving services like Sendoso and Alyce let you bring this experience to prospective customers and clients. They allow you to drive interest in your business in an exciting way and help accelerate any sales in your pipeline.
Gift-giving services can help you build relationships and enhance your outreach. These services allow you to send personal notes alongside personalized gifts. With Alyce, if the recipient decides to pass on the gift, they can donate the gift value to charity.
👉 Dialpad tip:
A word of caution—if you do want to use a gift giving platform, make sure your ask is specific. For example, “Let's grab a coffee and catch up on [X] project” in exchange for your Starbucks gift card or gift. Those gifts can add up, and you always want to make sure that there’s a purpose behind the gift.
A personalized, handwritten note can really go a long way with a prospective client. Handwritten notes or anything sent via the mail show that you are putting time and effort into the relationship, which will impress clients and prospects.
This is a great tactic to use with prospects with whom you want a meeting, like your top or high-value prospects.
LinkedIn is a great way to stay on top of company news, which is essential to acknowledge recent prospect or client achievements when you reach out. With the right critical information selected from recent company news, you can make an impression.
By keeping tabs on their company, you can better address how your company can help them with their respective problems. A good rule of thumb to remember: Bring or give the recipient something of value twice before asking for anything in return.
9 alternatives to sending a “touch base” email
1. Share a valuable resource
Sending a resource to a contact or prospect is a great way to connect with someone, and it breaks the ice when you actually meet up with the person. Send something you think the other person will find valuable, like a trending article, blog, whitepaper, webinar, or infographics related to their industry.
2. Extend an invite to an event
Invite your colleague, prospect, customer, or contact to an industry event like a conference or a local business meet-and-greet.
The nice thing about inviting them to an event is that it allows you to meet up in a social setting and also gives you both an opportunity to network with other industry professionals.
3. Reference a previous interaction
If you have met before, and the previous meetings or calls have gone well, bring up something you remember from that previous time—this can casually move the conversation along.
Referencing previous interactions will also give you the chance to bring up any topics you want to go over again or revisit throughout the new interaction.
4. Mention their content
If the person you’re reaching out to has recently published an article, a LinkedIn post, or a YouTube video, offer your honest opinion about the content and build on that topic in your outreach message.
5. Acknowledge their recent achievements
If you hear through the grapevine that a prospect or customer has achieved a recent win, like a promotion or publication of an article, use the event as an opportunity to reach out. This kind of outreach shows the receiver that you’re paying attention and are invested in their progress.
Here’s an example from HubSpot:
6. Give a helpful suggestion
A great way to connect with a prospect or customer while also demonstrating your value is to offer up a piece of advice or a helpful suggestion. Think about a goal they’re trying to achieve or a pain point in their business model that needs a solution. Gently offer up a suggestion that might help.
7. Ask for information
“Touch base” is often used in emails to request information. But there are better ways of asking for information. This is a bit of an unexpected twist on touching base—and maybe that’s why it works!
(But when you do request information from a colleague or client, be clear about what you’re looking for. State what you need, why you need it, and suggest a time to meet or discuss.)
8. Introduce product updates
Launching a new product or service within your company is a great way to connect with clients, prospects, and other interested parties. If someone has already engaged with your company, you know they have some interest in your product. Sending information about a new product is a natural way to re-connect.
But have a purpose for reaching out—people can spot insincerity a mile away, so try to be thoughtful with this one.
For example, if your company came out with a new feature that is related to something your prospect had mentioned wanting before, that’s a relevant and legitimate reason to touch base with them. Don’t just do a mass blast that says “Look at us and this new feature, let’s chat!”
9. Remind them what you can offer
Finally, you can just keep things simple and send a message that reiterates the value you can bring to their business. This one tends to work well for renewals and upsells, especially if there’s a specific time in the fiscal year where this would be relevant.
If you’ve touched base already, of course, don’t try to get in touch again too soon. Give them some space!
Use Dialpad to connect more effectively with your prospects and clients
“Touching base” doesn’t have to be difficult, nor do you have to look in a thesaurus to find new words or another “word of the day” to replace this phrase.
Instead, focus on how you can provide value to your prospect or client to encourage them to continue the conversation. This isn’t just one follow-up or conversation—it’s one step in building a relationship.
Make sure you have a good communications platform that lets you connect with those people through different channels, whether that’s a phone call or SMS or video meeting.
Dialpad integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace, Salesforce, Zendesk, and many of the other apps you use daily. You can also get call transcripts and summaries so you can have access to everything that was said and reference it for later communications down the line.
Dialpad helps you keep the most important details top of mind. Check out all Dialpad has to offer today, and connect with clients and prospects in a more meaningful way.
Looking for a better way to touch base with prospects and clients?
Dialpad's communications platform is designed to help sales teams with outreach! Book a product tour to see how its Ai-powered real-time coaching, transcriptions, voicemail drop, and other sales-focused features work!
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