According to HubSpot’s 2015 State of Inbound report, 42% of salespeople report that prospecting is the most difficult part of the sales process.
And it makes sense -- in an age where buyers know more than ever and everyone is incredibly busy, it’s harder and harder to get someone to pick up your call or respond to your email.
Dan Muscatello, a HubSpot enterprise sales rep, has a unique strategy that makes this painful process a little easier and more effective: His prospecting emails are all two sentences or shorter.
Here’s why Muscatello does it:
1) It’s mobile-friendly.
Fifty-four percent of emails are opened on mobile, so it’s critical that your email reads well on a phone screen.
Keeping prospecting emails shorter than two sentences makes them far easier to read on mobile, and guarantees that the entire message is displayed without your recipient having to scroll. Here’s an example of a pitch email I received recently that wasn’t written with my reading experience in mind:
And here’s an email clearly optimized for mobile:
If your prospect can read your entire message with minimal effort, it’s much more likely they’ll read the entire email and then perform the action you want them to take. Research shows that the ideal length of a sales email should be no more than 125 words, a limit you're unlikely to hit in two sentences.
2) It matches decision makers’ and executives’ tones.
Every month, HubSpot Chief Sales Officer Hunter Madeley posts a sales update summarizing the previous month’s performance on our internal wiki, then emails the Sales, Marketing, and executive teams when it's done.
Here’s a screenshot of Madeley's email with June’s sales update. As you can see, it’s short and sweet:
Executives and busy decision makers don’t write paragraphs-long emails because they don’t have time -- which means you shouldn’t expect them to read an email that’s really long.
A short email also acknowledges that you understand their role, the demands of their day-to-day, and that you respect their time. The more you can address these decision makers at the level they operate on, the more likely they are to respect you.
3) It looks less like a template.
Today’s buyers have access to more information than ever before, but it’s also the golden age for salespeople -- sales blogs and publications abound with free resources, webinars, courses, and sales templates.
This is good news for new sales teams and inexperienced salespeople. Seeing what’s out there is a great way to learn and get new ideas for outreach, and the wealth of information makes it easy to write effective prospecting emails.
But the good news cuts both ways. Instead of taking the core ideas from popular templates and customizing them to their company’s unique situation, many salespeople simply copy and paste these templates and send them along.
Prospects know this all too well, because chances are if you’re reaching out to a buyer, other salespeople are too. And if you’re all using the same templates you’ve lifted from the same blogs, your buyers will notice. Even I’ve gotten duplicate or extremely similar emails from reps at different companies.
Keeping your prospecting emails short forces you to condense your message and get right to the point, but it also allays your buyers’ suspicions that you’ve just copy and pasted a generic template you got from someone else’s blog. After all, if you’re sending two hyper-customized sentences to a prospect, it’ll seem more personalized -- even if you’ve sent the same or a similar message to multiple people who are similar to that particular buyer.
4) It lowers the psychological burden of responding.
I don’t know about you, but when I read a long email, I immediately get a little anxiety. Am I going to pick up on everything the sender wanted me to? Am I going to miss important information unless I stop everything and read the message incredibly carefully? Am I going to have to write a magna carta in response?
A short email with a clear ask removes all of this anxiety. Its length assures the reader they’ve seen the whole message. It also means you can’t confuse your prospect with multiple asks or too much information they’ll have to prioritize themselves. And most importantly, it means that they’ll be more likely to respond.
Because you’ve given your prospect a clear, singular center to your message, they know they only have to respond to one thing. They don’t need to sift through your 17 questions and determine which ones they want to answer, if at all -- they can just shoot back a two-sentence response.
If you're having a hard time keeping your emails short, try actually writing your emails on your phone so you can see what your prospect sees. It's also harder to compose longer messages, so you'll force yourself to be concise.
In a world where we’re all inundated with information, it doesn’t matter how good your paragraphs-long emails are if they don’t get read and responded to. The easier you make a sales process for your prospects to kick off, the more likely you’ll successfully start a conversation -- and that’s the entire point of prospecting in the first place.