As if sales wasn’t hard enough, here are three sobering statistics:
- The average person’s attention span is 8.25 seconds.
- People receive an average of 88 business-related emails a day.
- Forty-three percent of people delete or stop reading long emails within the first 30 seconds of opening them -- perhaps because they're boring.
Clearly, it’s getting harder and harder to reach prospects. So how do you write sales emails that will cut through the clutter?
The BRIEF Method of Writing Sales Emails
Joe McCormack, author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less, thinks he has the answer.
His “BRIEF” method of communication is a handy five-step guide to writing a concise sales email. In an age where Americans consume an average 34 gigabytes of content a day, “brevity is not a nice to have -- it’s a need to have,” McCormack told Fast Company.
Before you write any email, use the following outline as a guide for what you’re going to say. Then, say no more.
1) B: Background
- What have you spoken about recently?
- What action steps did you agree upon in your last conversation?
- What business problem is your prospect tring to solve?
2) R: Reason
- Why are you writing to your prospect today?
- What’s the objective of your email?
- Why should they pay attention to your message?
3) I: Information
- What new information do you have to share?
- What questions did your prospect ask that you’re following up on?
- Has anything external to the deal (pricing, packaging, legal considerations, new features, etc.) changed?
4) E: End
- What’s your ask?
- What next steps does your prospect need to take to move the relationship forward?
- What tasks or projects do you need to complete?
5) F: Follow-Up
- What objections is your prospect likely to have?
- How will you respond to them?
- What resources can you pull in to address these concerns?
The BRIEF Method in Action
What does a BRIEF email look like? In this example, Sales Rep Samantha, who sells project management software, is emailing her point of contact at a design firm to set up a call that includes the economic buyer.
Hi Prospect Paul,
Thanks for your time last week -- it was great to learn more about how your agency handles project communication.
I’d like to schedule a call with you and Decision Maker Donna so we can dive a little deeper into how Project Management Inc. could fit into your current client relationship model.
You mentioned that Donna has two concerns:
- Streamlining communication on projects with multiple teams
- Transitioning all stakeholders over to a new tool
I’ve attached a blog post on strategies for keeping large teams on the same page, and a case study from one of our largest clients who went through the same transition process. I can speak more to this on our call as well.
Does next Thursday at 3 p.m. still work for you? I’ll follow up with a calendar invite once I hear back from you.
Sales Rep Samantha
In this example, Samantha’s gotten straight to the point. She provides context and an agenda right at the beginning of her email. She also preemptively handles objections she’s already aware of so the foundation is set for her to address Donna’s concerns on the next call. Finally, Samantha includes a clear action step for Paul (confirming the meeting time) as well as lets him know what she’ll do upon his response (send a calendar invite).
By taking an extra 30 seconds to plan out your emails, you can send more focused, concise messages. And in a world where you only have eight seconds to capture your prospect’s attention, that skill is more important than ever.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.