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
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 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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.