From subject to signature, top salespeople know the importance of crafting great prospecting emails. After all, an email is often a prospect’s first impression, and it can be the difference between calling or deleting you. The problem is that today’s business prospects are bombarded with emails, and it’s easy to simply dismiss or delete them. Also, too many sales pros think they just need the basic idea, and the prospect will do the rest. While this attitude may work if there’s a great demand for your products and services, it misses an opportunity to generate interest, present value, and create a connection. In the interest of turning unknown prospects into trusted clients, here are a few tips for writing more effective prospecting emails:
Just as you wouldn’t call a prospect without some idea of who they are, their industry, or where they work, you shouldn’t blindly dispatch emails without doing your research. Check their LinkedIn profile and other references for some general background. In addition to the buyer persona, look into industry trends, such as recent mergers and acquisitions, a government mandate, projected forecasts, or some other news that could affect the prospect and ties into what you can offer.
This is the first thing a recipient sees, and they will often base their decision to open or delete an email on the subject alone. Here, don’t be misleading. Don’t use clickbait. Avoid words that convey too much excitement, like “Great deal!” “One-Time Offer!” “Act now!” In general, no exclamation points. After all, your email isn’t a skydancer, the blow-up air puppets, waving in the breeze. Sure, you want to catch their interest, but be aware of spam triggers. Instead, think of a news story about their industry, a pertinent statistic, or a comment about a recent social media post, project, or new position.
While in some cultures, first names are problematic, in the U.S., they are fine. That said, avoid abbreviated names like Stef for Stephanie or diminutives like Johnny—except if you’re certain that is the name they go by. In addition, make sure to spell their name correctly. There is no greater credibility killer than a typo in a greeting. The opening needs to be short and specific to the recipient. Instead of leading with a generic value proposition, make yours resonate, “Hey Bob, I saw your post about supply chains in the Southwest, and I have a few ideas…” You can then follow with a relevant fact about yourself, your experience, or expertise, such as, “As the lead business development rep for XYZ company’s Southwest region, I was impressed by your analysis.”
Reason for Emailing
Though you are technically prospecting, your email should not sound like a prospecting email. You are not randomly messaging buyers to drum up business. Instead, based on your research, you are reaching out to a specific person for a particular reason. Keep it short and focus on their needs. In a sentence or two, show them you understand their business. Consider a few bullet points to quickly summarize what you can offer. Remember, you are an experienced professional with an expertise in their area. You are uniquely qualified to help them and offer substantial value. If you show this quickly, they will keep reading and, more importantly, they will remember you later.
Whenever possible, get in a personal referral, someone who knows you and what you can do. Maybe your prospect has a mutual friend. Perhaps, you have done business with their previous employer, and you still meet regularly with Allyce in Acquisitions. For many sellers and buyers, it can be a very small world, especially for salespeople with experience in a specialized industry. Though typical salespeople often use the expression, “It’s like having an uncle in the business,” there is instant credibility and security in a mutual contact, even if it’s only a casual acquaintance to vouch for your character.
What You Can Offer
We’ve already looked at ways to open your email, such as useful advice, a response on social media, complementing their work, and congratulating them on a new role. Now, it’s time to present your offer. If you have done everything right, from a snazzy subject to a catchy opening, they are still reading. This is your chance to hit it out of the park. While many salespeople get antsy here and overwrite, top sellers keep this simple and specific. In a brief statement, show them what you can do, and include social proof, such as, “In 2020, we helped more than 200 companies just like yours achieve 20 percent growth on average, resulting in a substantial productivity and bottom-line increase.” Boom. Drop the mic.
Call to Action
After your offer, be sure to include a specific call to action. This is an invitation to take the next step, such as emailing back, calling you, or clicking your calendar to set a meeting. Be sure to note you look forward to hearing from them, and thank them for their time. Here, too, inexperienced sellers can get caught in their exuberance and go overboard with the call to action and thank you, but it is best to keep this short and professional. You’ve already presented your offer. The next move is up to the prospect, and there will be time later for a follow-up email.
Closing the Email & Signature
Perhaps, no part of an email is more important than the way you close it out. Too often, people think they must be original, quirky, or cute. In almost all cases, these backfire and undermine one’s professionalism. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Tried and true examples, such as Yours truly and Sincerely, are good, safe choices. Depending on your research, you could find clues to their interests, such as a fondness for single-malt Scotch. In this case, a simple Cheers is appropriate. At the same time, consider the visual appeal of your signature. Make sure it is easy to read and includes all contact info, such as email addresses, phone numbers, links to your company website, LinkedIn, and other social media.
Bonus Content: Writing Tips
Generally, one does not have to be a great writer to craft effective prospecting emails. However, there are a few tips to present yourself in the most professional light. Always read your emails out loud or share them with a co-worker. Reading out loud helps you hear your voice in the same way your prospect will when they read it. This helps identify clunky or wordy sentences. Also, remember short, declarative sentences are better than long, compound sentences of many clauses. These can lessen the impact of your point. Avoid words that lead to compounds, such as and, because, and since. In addition, be sure to proofread for typos. Then, proofread again.
For many sellers, a prospecting email is the first step in a long journey. In the history of sales, no one has ever gone from prospecting email to closed deal in a day, so a little patience is required. As with everything in sales, there is a process to make the most of your emails. The more work you put in before hitting send, the greater your chance of receiving a favorable response. Remember the goal. If they write back, even if they can’t move on a deal right now, you still win. Present your best self, your best offer, and they will at least keep you in mind. It’s a long way from prospect to client, and it all starts with an effective email.