Sales emails are your “best foot forward” when first communicating with prospective customers. Unfortunately, based upon my experience reading such emails, most of those feet put forward, well…, stink.
Here are some guidelines to keep your sales emails fresh. As examples, I’ve used some (lightly edited) real-life sales emails:
1. Get to the point.
With the attention span of the average customer rapidly shrinking to less than zero seconds, you’ve got two sentences at most to make the case that you’re worth the customer’s attention. Don’t squander those two sentences setting up to say something substantive.
Wrong: “What are your company’s top three priorities/objectives in xxx mobile market over the coming year? Studies show that mobile computing is a growing segment of your market and that mobile customers…”
Right: “Our software can increase sales by up to 25% by displaying your ads on tablets and smartphones.”
2. Avoid business platitudes.
Similarly, don’t waste time or verbiage telling the customer something that the customer already knows. Stating the obvious makes you come off clueless rather than knowledgeable.
Wrong: “As you know, today’s executives are busier than ever before and are always looking for ways to save time and money.”
Right: “The CEO of ABC Corp says our application reduced the time she spent monitoring sales by around 25%.”
3. Skip the sales cliches.
Most customers hit delete the moment they read any sentence or phrase that sounds like something a salesperson might say. Note: above all, avoid the words “discount” and “guarantee” which are red flags for SPAM filters.
Wrong: “What would you say if I could guarantee you a huge discount each and every time you buy…”
4. State facts; don’t make claims.
Claims about your products and services are meaningless to people who already don’t trust you. Rather than empty boasts, use verifiable facts to make your case.
Wrong: “Our product is the most innovative in the market today, with the highest quality service and support. Our highly-trained technicians can meet your needs regardless of the size of your business. We can do what other suppliers can’t because we are committed to excellence at every level of our delivery process. We are the best in our industry because our customers are satisfied and delighted with our superlative products.”
Right: “Our product helped companies ABC and XYZ save 25% on inventory costs and we’ve won two “best service” awards from the Association of Inventory Holders (AIH).”
5. Get over yourself.
The customer doesn’t care what you want, what you were thinking when you contacted them or how you’re feeling right now. Your message needs to be about the customer.
Wrong: “I was looking through my list of prospects and felt bad that I haven’t called you in a while. I’m interested to know whether you’d want to find out how I can save you…”
Right: “You’ll close more business when you use our product.”
6. Use plain language.
Nobody is going to read a block of biz-blab. Rather than writing like the “pointy haired boss” in the Dilbert comic strip, use simple nouns and verbs that have a concrete meaning.
Wrong: “We provide ‘one stop shopping’ for all of your HR needs. Through a single relationship, you have access to HR services for the continuum of the employment life cycle.”
Right: “We help our clients with hiring and training so that they can spend more time running their business rather than dealing with HR details.”
7. Don’t pretend you’re not selling.
Customers know when you’re trying to sell them something. Pretending otherwise just makes you into a liar, and not a very good one at that.
Wrong: “I am not trying to sell you something, but would like meet with you to discuss the possibilities of working together.”
Right: “I would like to meet with you to discuss whether I can save you money.”
8. Be sparing with information.
As sales uber-guru Tom Hopkins points out in his forthcoming book When Buyers Say No, it’s better to leave a customer with some questions rather than provide so much information that go into overload or become bored.
Wrong: “Our customers hire us to help them combat rising health care costs and decreased productivity from poor staff health. With our easy-to-use software and qualified health specialists, you can lower your company’s health care expenses.”
Right: “Our customers hire us to reduce absenteeism and decrease overall employee health problems.”
9. Open a conversation.
There’s nothing you can say in an email that’s going to get a decision-maker to pick up the phone and make an appointment to talk to you. The most you can expect is a reply via email.
Wrong: “If you are available to meet me and my senior product manager either on 7th or 8th October at your offices in xxxx, we can show relevant use cases. Please let me know which one of those days works best for you. I look forward to receiving your confirmation.”
Right: “Does this interest you?”
Do you have any good/bad email stories to share? Let me know in the comments section below.