Connecting with prospects is harder now than ever before. In today's technology-driven world, fewer and fewer prospects answer their phone and even less respond to voicemails. Not even 1% of phone calls are returned!
Although I’ve resisted telling my salespeople for years that the phone is less important than email when it comes to prospecting, it’s hard to ignore the stats anymore. Today, effective email writing skills are more essential than mastering the unscheduled call. (There, I said it.)
Unfortunately, most sales emails don’t get a response either. In fact, less than 24% of prospecting emails are even opened.
Surprised? I’m not. A quick glance at my own inbox confirms that the majority of salespeople have no clue how to write an effective email. Like most executives, I receive hundreds of poorly written emails requesting 15 minutes of my time on a call (like this really bad one) each and every week.
Simply stated, salespeople need to get better at using email to initiate a dialogue with busy and overwhelmed prospects. If you’ve been following the HubSpot Sales Blog, you know we’ve spent a lot of calories writing and sharing sales prospecting best practices and providing template after template to make your initial outreach easier and more effective. But, if my inbox is any indication, it seems that salespeople need all of the advice they can get.
Lucky for you, it’s not just us advocating for better emails. Here are some videos on prospecting emails from a few world-renowned sales experts. I highly recommend watching each if you have time, but if you’re in a rush, I’ve extracted a few of my favorite quotes for skimming.
Email Is Sales Email, if You Do it Write
Jeffrey Gitomer, the author of nine best-selling sales books and popular corporate trainer and speaker, is a font of sales wisdom. His direct and down-to-earth style helps make his message clear as day.
Gitomer discusses why emails are great for prospecting in the following sales training video:
His advice for getting your emails opened is spot on:
- “Every email is an impression of you.” If you send out poor quality with grammatical errors, you can ruin your reputation. If you need help, take the extra time and have someone proofread your message.
- “The best way to get an unsolicited email opened is to ask a question in the subject line that’s specific to the recipient.” These types of subject lines show that you have done your homework and thought about your recipient's needs. When you target the specific pain points of your reader, they are going to want to open your email and engage with you. Without this level personalization, your message goes in the trash.
Email Still Rules, Are You the Connector or Deleted?
In this video, Gitomer tells you how to keep your sales emails from being deleted:
- “If you are getting a 9% response, it means that 91% of the people you sent an email to are somewhere between annoyed and pissed off.” Gitomer points out that deleted emails don't just disappear into cyberspace, although it might feel that way to the sender. They create an emotional response in the person who deleted it. And when too many negative emotional responses are connected to your emails, the next time you send a message, the sour knee-jerk reaction is automatic. Your actions in the past affect your results in the present, so make sure you are always at the top of your game when communicating with prospects.
- “Here’s why most emails fail: You know little or nothing about the recipient.” Personalize your email. Before you even sit down to write an email, research your buyer using Google and social media. Then it won’t be nearly so hard to make your message relevant and get your prospect’s attention.
How to Use Email to Get into Big Companies
Armed with an abundance of practical sales strategies, Jill Konrath is an in-demand speaker and best-selling author who knows her stuff. Konrath authors a popular blog and her sales newsletter has over 130,000 readers (Not one of them? You should sign up here.)
In “How to Use Email for Prospecting,” Jill talks about getting a foot in the door at big companies using email.
Here are two of my favorite pieces of email advice from her video that apply no matter what size company you’re contacting:
- “If you want to use email effectively, you are crafting personalized messages that the person you are trying to reach knows they are written explicitly for him or her.” Jill points out that you only have a moment to get your recipient's attention. Their first impression will be based on your subject line and first few sentences -- make sure that these words are enticing.
- “You’re not closing on the appointment right away necessarily.” Since email prospecting is about building relationships, Jill advises against asking for an appointment right away. Your first goal is to get your prospect to respond and start a conversation -- that’s it. This may result in an appointment eventually, but don't start with that ask.
Here are 45 more prospecting tips from Jill Konrath, Trish Bertuzzi, and Lori Richardson if you really want to master your messaging.
Five Must-Know Email Sales Tips
Marc Wayshak, author of Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers offers some of his wisdom in the following video on email prospecting tips:
Here are my two favorite takeaways:
- “There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an email from someone who made me feel like I was just one of many people receiving that email.” Amen. According to Marc, email needs to forge a personal connection.
- “Engage the prospect with a simple question." Marc suggests that too many sales emails end with a statement. Instead, he recommends ending with a simple question that can be easily answered, such as “What’s the best address to send the book to?” and “Is this an idea that would be at all relevant in your world?”
Email Prospecting Isn’t Going Away, So Learn How to Do it Right
Konrath, Wayshak, and Gitomer’s specific messages might be different, but they all stem from the same piece of fundamental advice: If you’re going to do email prospecting, you must do it right. That means:
- Recognize that sending a bad, wrong, or uncustomized message, does more harm than good.
- Do your research about the individual in order to personalize your email.
- Hone your writing skills, starting with the basics like good grammar and correct spelling.
- Keep your message short and focused on the recipient.
- Make getting a response your goal, not booking an appointment, and certainly not closing the sale.
- Use thoughtful, simple and pertinent questions to start a conversation.
These six points seem self-evident. So, why do so many salespeople do the opposite?
Based on what I’ve heard from reps, they don’t do email the right way because it takes too much time -- time they could use to find and spam another lead. Too bad that according to our experts, salespeople who continue to prospect this way piss off prospects and get terrible, single-digit response rates.
Maybe you’d like a different result? Maybe you’d like to piss off fewer prospects and get much higher response rates by following these simple guidelines from accomplished sales experts? Go ahead. I dare you to do the right thing -- for both your prospects and yourself. Let us know how it works out for you.
Originally published Jun 8, 2016 8:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017