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The 9 Deadly Mistakes of Sales Prospecting Emails

You probably didn't get into sales to show off your wordsmithing skills, but the best salespeople today tend to be solid writers. In addition to using the phone to prospect, reps are relying more and more on email -- and getting a response over email requires writing chops.

Unfortunately, many salespeople shoot themselves in the foot by making silly mistakes in sales emails. Commit any of these nine errors, and your chances of getting a reply decrease dramatically.

9 Deadly Sales Prospecting Email Errors

1) Putting 100% of your focus on the subject line ... and none on the body copy.

The subject line is important, no doubt about it. After all, it's what gets the prospect to click in the first place. But you don't want to build up their expectations with a fantastic subject line only to be deflated by a terrible message. When writing sales prospecting emails, give equal weight to the subject line and body copy.

Not sure if you're doing it right? Ask another salesperson on your team what they'd expect based on your subject line alone. Then show them the rest of the email. If their expectations aren't satisfied, it's time to tweak.

2) Addressing your email to the wrong person.

Remember: The first person you reach out to might not be the right contact. It never hurts to double check and make sure they're the decision maker.

Hint: Use LinkedIn to research your contact's primary responsibilities. If those responsibilities match up with the typical budget authority's responsibilities, you're in good shape.

3) Writing overly long sentences.

Not only do lengthy sentences take time to read (something that's in short supply for busy business leaders), they're also confusing. What exactly do you want your buyer to take away from this email? What action do you want them to complete after reading? Short sentences make your meaning crystal clear.

4) Making the email all about you.

I don't care if your company is the most "cost-effective" and "innovative" vendor in the space -- and neither do prospects. A first-touch outreach requires you to warm prospects up before they're willing to sit through your pitch. Making the email about you is a huge mistake -- focus on your buyer.

5) Failing to include any benefits.

You wouldn't be reaching out to this prospect if you didn't believe you had something to offer them. Relevant benefits provide a compelling reason for prospects to engage with you, so don't leave them by the wayside. Just make sure to play up what the benefit signifies for them. A benefit by itself doesn't mean much, but one that's made relevant to the buyer is invaluable.

Note: The benefit in question doesn't have to be product-related. Maybe you have an exclusive report to send them, or insights into their competition they might be interested in.

6) Spraying and praying your prospects.

Buyers can tell when they're being treated as a number on a long lead list. And if you can't even customize your very first email, what does that say about your customer service? Take the time to customize, even if that just means adding a personal detail or two to your template. This strategy usually has the most impact if you use it in the first line.

7) Ending with a vague call-to-action.

Every email should end with an explicit call-to-action. If you don't spell out exactly what the buyer should do next, the likelihood the conversation will continue decreases dramatically. Instead of saying, "Would you be interested in learning more?" or "Let me know if you'd like to speak," write specific, detailed CTAs such as:

  • "Are you free on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to discuss this strategy in more detail?"
  • "Which techniques have you used to optimize CRO?"

Note that your CTA doesn't have to be an invitation to get on phone, as long as your prospect can immediately see what the next step would be.

8) Neglecting to spell-check or look for grammar errors.

Misspelling words or misusing punctuation never comes across well, but prospects are more forgiving once they've gotten to know you. When you're reaching out for the first time, a single error can destroy your credibility. Use a tool like Grammarly to get automatic spelling and grammar corrections, or copy and paste your email into a word processing tool before you send it to catch any mistakes.

9) Your email pisses people off.

It seems obvious to avoid angering your prospects, but you might be making people mad without knowing it. To lessen your risk of infuriating prospects, write concise, customized emails that offer something of value. You can also use HubSpot Sales to discover if your buyer opened your email or clicked on any links. Knowing which templates perform the best means you won't continue to send an ineffective (and potentially annoying) email over and over.

For more tips, tricks, and tools to use when writing sales emails, check out the infographic from Gliderpath below.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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