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Sales Solutions
Using e-mail to rev up your sales vol 4, issue #5
May, 2008

How many e-mails drop into your Inbox each day? 25? 50? 100? 200?

How do you choose which ones to read, which ones to delete, and which ones to park - to be read whenever you get a free moment (i.e., never!). You can be sure that the same process you go through, your prospects go through as well. So what can we do to increase the likelihood that your e-mails will fall into the first category - the ones they'll read (and maybe even look forward to)?

First, let's touch on the ways we are, should be, shouldn't be, and could be using this medium. Many of us use e-mail to more effectively convey a compelling message of why to do business with our company to people who are visual, not auditory. We do this instead of leaving a voice message, because we've learned from experience that approximately zero people return voice messages. Some of us use e-mail in addition to leaving a compelling voice message, because we don't know whether the recipient is visual or auditory. Still others (though far fewer) of us use e-mail as an opportunity to establish credibility and trust in ourselves and our companies - the foundation for doing business. More on that later.

So that's what we are doing, and should be doing. What should we not be doing? Number 1 - we should never be using e-mail as a way to avoid picking up the phone! Many sales people - in particular, those who dread cold calling - hide behind e-mail. As a one-way means of communication, e-mail offers us a modicum of comfort: it can't beat us up by hurling objections at us. But who among us got into this profession in order to hide from attacks? We expect to get beat up! It's part of the price we implicitly agreed to pay in order to have the potential for a lucrative income this work affords us. As professional sales people, we know that successful selling involves two-way communication - conveying what we want, but also listening to what the prospect wants. Never let e-mail be a substitute for speaking with prospects.


Now let's move on to what we could be doing to make e-mail work for us.


Most of us recognize that e-mail could - or at least should - help us sell more effectively. But few of us have actually figured out just how. Here are a few "best practices" that should start you on your way;


Don't

Don't write a novel. Keep your e-mails short - but not too short. Time is people's most precious asset these days. Create just enough content to whet their appetite. Your goal is not to explain; it is to entice, and motivate to action: a reply e-mail, a visit to your web site, a phone call. Qualified prospects will do one of these things; unqualified ones won't -which is fine. Don't waste your time crafting lengthy e-mails that will only appeal to a small portion of your prospect base.

Don't use big words. You may want to impress your prospects with your extensive vocabulary of three-and four-syllable words. Resist the urge. In writing - especially e-mail - short word length and plain writing is as valued (subconsciously, to be sure) as brevity of the total length of the e-mail.

Don't send e-mails too frequently. It annoys people and is more likely to get deleted.


Do

Have a compelling subject line. Simply "Checking in" won't get too many prospects excited. "What are your competitors are up to?" would surely get me to open one up, because it's intriguing.

Offer value. Too much e-mail we receive is self-serving. "We can solve this problem for you!" Of course you think you can - but I'm the one who has to pay for what you're selling me. How about something that educates your prospect, such as, "Download our free whitepaper to learn about..."? How do you think you'll be perceived by this prospect, and whom will he be more likely to call first when a need arises for what you sell?

Provoke curiosity, wonder, or concern. Most business people are either looking for ways to take advantage of opportunities, or ways to avoid problems, headaches, and stress. Unfortunately, most sales e-mail is boring, provoking a big yawn and a press of the delete key. Craft an e-mail that centers on an issue you know or suspect is near and dear to the recipient, subtly suggesting that you have something interesting that pertains to that issue.

Use numbers. If you can quantify the scope of a problem or opportunity, or what exactly recipients will get by opening and reading your e-mail, they can more easily get their hands around it and will be more inclined to take action. "Click here for 3 ways to supercharge your marketing copy." is more compelling than simply "How to supercharge Your Marketing Copy.


This is just a sampling of ways you can enhance the effectiveness of your e-mail.



Action Item:

Decide for yourself if you believe e-mail belongs in your repertoire of prospecting tools. If you decide it does, craft a couple, using the guidelines in this article, and then test it out on a couple of prospects (or, if you prefer, run it by me first). Then follow the guidelines for what to do and not do with the e-mails you've crafted. Begin using them, and monitor and measure your success at engaging prospects with them, relative to your success at engaging them without them. You'll quickly find out whether integrating e-mail into your prospecting activities works for you and your prospects.


Good Selling!


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