Cold calling. Social selling. If you're growing weary of the "debate" in this space, you’re not alone.
Reality check: if you want to be successful, you need to use every tool you have at your disposal. The arguments for or against this or that technique are a load of crap. They all have their merits. They all have value. Phone, social, email, chat. You can’t choose just one. It’s all or nothing.
But before we dive into the deep end and swim amongst the email sharks, there’s something that needs to be said.
You can’t sell through email.
Now, you might now wonder what the point of this article is if you can’t use them to—actually—sell. Even today, email is a powerful tool, but it’s best to use it to engage your customers, especially when you’re trying to land the first meeting. Don't a golden email sequence to close a high value opportunities through email alone.
It’s a noisy world. You need to make an impression so customers want to speak with you. That’s what this article is about. As you delve further, you will learn the tools, best practices, traps to avoid, and tactics to help you scale your sales emails.
If you’re still wondering why sales email is so important, consider this: there are 3.7 billion email users in the world today. In 2017, an average of 269 billion emails were sent every single day.
But before we sink deeper into outbound email strategy, let’s get a few things on the table.
Technology and the allure of today’s tools
Recent years have given us more advanced tools that help us scale email and track how effective our efforts are.
First, there is technology that gives you access to data intelligence. Such tools include ContactOut, Clearbit, and DiscoverOrg. All good stuff.
We also have sales automation that helps with outbound efforts. Outreach, Yesware, ZenProspect and SalesLoft are top players in this space.
Combined, these tools have helped us all become more effective and generally smarter about our outbound efforts. But there’s always a downside. As powerful as they are, many of these tools are being used to send out weak emails to people who are largely disengaged from your messaging.
Many unwitting sales people send out poorly crafted emails with the ultimate effect of burning through what could be high-quality leads.
They are contributing to their customer’s apathy, effectively encouraging them to ignore you.
Even so, there is an upside. The sheer volume of bad emails means that the really good ones are even more remarkable.
What makes a great email?
To write a sales email that works, relevance must come first.
If you look at the definition of relevant, it uses a few key words we should always keep in mind when trying to be relevant: “closely connected". It also says “appropriate”.
What should be included in your outbound sales emails?
To write an effective sales email, there is a basic format you should adhere to. Using this paradigm will help you achieve the maximum gain out of an opportunity.
There is something that all good narratives share. Whether it’s a movie, a television series, a book, a news article, they all share a common trait.
They tell a story within a proven framework.
Your sales email, crafted effectively, should tell a story.
Every outbound email message should contain the “RRR’s”:
- Relevance: Which should consist some research or reference a similar customer. Your opening line should demonstrate that you truly care. One easy way to do this is to highlight another client who has experienced the same pain points shows them that they are not the only ones that feel this pain, that others have shared the same feelings and frustrations, and that there just may be a solution that, having worked for others.
- Reward: Give before you ask for something in return. This is as true for sales emails as it is for just about anything in life. Give them something valuable. It could be a blog post that provides good, actionable information, a tip sheet, a white paper, webinar or video. Something relevant to their situation. As a result, they might see you as part of the solution. You’re one step closer to that meeting.
- Request: Too often, sales emails fall short of getting results because there is no clear call-to-action for the reader to act upon. Why go to all this effort if you don’t get anything in return? This is not the signal to move in for the coup de grace – but it is a chance for you to offer a few more tidbits or insights. Ask for their views on what you’ve already sent. Open the door to a discussion. For the love of everything in this world, do not ALWAYS ask for a meeting... this gets old fast.
Outbound sales emails best practices
Do these things:
- Make it short and sweet. Cut, cut, cut to the point. Half as long = twice the impact.
- Optimize your sales emails for mobile devices.
- Pay attention to your subject line. Make it hooky.
- Take care how you launch into your story. Lead with a story about “how these customers achieved these great benefits”, as opposed to “with our service, you can expect …”
- Include links to relevant materials where possible along with industry insights.
- Use the recipient’s name to direct attention to key points.
- Wrap up with something light and social that has relativity to the subject.
Don’t do these things:
- DON’T open with introductions "Hi, my name is Jill from Acme...". Get straight to the point! If you don't already know them, don't try to come off as a friendly professional by saying "Hope you're well" or "Hope you had a good weekend..." - these are just wasted words because you would never hope for the opposite....
- DON’T ever open your message with “I”. Remember, it’s about them, not about you.
- DON’T include attachments. Linking to content is best practice - attachments usually get caught in email filters.
- DON’T always close your message by asking to meet. This is about piquing their interest and starting a conversation.
Three never-fail methods of scaling an outbound sales email
In fact, in today’s noisy digital world, it’s quite probable that your first, second, third, fourth, and further emails might languish, unread, in the inbox of your intended.
Studies show that one-third of all responses from sales emails come from emails five through seven. What that means is, if you quit after your first one, you’re going to miss out on nearly all of your potential opportunities
What you really need do is build out campaigns with at least six emails in a series. However, eight to 10 are better.
Why? Won’t I be a nuisance if I’m sending them so many emails?
Why, yes. If your emails are justifiably crappy, then you are absolutely being a nuisance.
However, if what you are putting out is something that people really like, if you offer a solid value proposition, it is quite possible that you may land a face-to-face within the first two. And those people that don’t want your emails? They’ll opt out at that point, so you really have very little to lose.
Here’s another handy “do” to add to your list: be sure your messages aren’t all flogging the same exact thing. Above all, they shouldn’t be asking whether they received your last e-blast.
Instead, use each email to touch on different value props. See what connects with your prospects. This will help later on.
Here are some easy, actionable steps you can take to get started
1. Know your customer
Having an ideal customer persona is an essential first step to being able to connect with them in a meaningful way.
If you have not crafted one of these before, it’s about getting inside the customer’s head. It’s about asking questions about who they are, how they think, and what trends they follow. If it isn’t possible to speak to one of your best customers directly, check out their LinkedIn page. Look at what/who they recommend, what people they follow, what companies they recommend. This will help you develop a better understanding of what they value. This will help you get a better handle on how to connect with them through an email – by crafting a message that is just for them. This is about the things they share, the things they care about, the challenges they face. Making an emotional connection is crucial, because only then will they move on to check out the data.
2. Building an impact matrix
An impact matrix is about taking the ideas you have generated with your customer persona and drilling down to how your solution can solve their problems. People are interested in ways to solve their business problems. That’s the opportunity. However, you can’t simply concentrate on the bad. That’s why a series of emails is called for here, not just one. Not everybody connects with the pain. Some prefer to focus on the gain, so you need to be aware of this and see where your best responses come from. Mix them up.
Create a spreadsheet for prospecting:
On the top row, put the features that will deliver the most value. This is simply to identify segments where you can have the most positive influence on their business.
Second, identify the pain points you are setting out to alleviate. You will already know what these things are because you’ve done your research.
Third, refer to another client who was in a comparable situation. Place this under rewards in your spreadsheet.
For every sales email that you send out, the reference, as well as the reward, should change. Same goes for the pain/gain aspect.
Ultimately, your job is to eliminate their pain completely. If you are able to convince them within the scope of your emails or if you manage to land a meeting, then you’ll know you’ve got it down. Congrats.
3. Crafting your emails
Set a timeline. Planning ahead will allow you to effectively spread out your messages for maximum impact.
Resist the urge to give it all away in the first email. You’ll have little else to say after that and all your effort will be for naught. Keep in mind, you’re in this for the long-haul and stay the course.
Like any relationship, it’s about creating trust.
Going back to the “RRR’s”, let’s talk about number three: Request.
When you start your prospecting, you need to open the conversation. Many people request some of your time – 15 minutes seems to be pretty standard. However, most people know that what comes next is a pitch of some sort. Why not turn that impression around by giving them something instead?
Constantly refine your message to ensure it is hitting its target. This is where the tracking technology will come in handy. They will help you see how your emails are performing over time. Keep checking in with them, because it’s about the process over time, not just the end numbers.
And what does success look like? When you get a response, your email has helped start a conversation. Always move forward with that goal in mind – or, conversely, getting an engagement to the info you sent out.
Even with the volume of email leaders receive every day, it is still a very powerful tool – when used correctly. Follow best practices and you will be setting the stage for your future success.
Integrate your outbound email strategy with other methods to improve your chances. It’s all about connecting and engagement. The more tools at your disposal, the better your chances for success.
In Part 2 of this series, our in-house email expert, Dan Smith, will look at specific emails and how to improve them.