E-mail is so much easier to use for prospecting than the phone. You can write it at any time day or night. You don’t have to worry about being hung up on and you won’t catch your client "at a bad time." But it's also easily deleted with no response. When you put yourself into your e-mail, your chances of getting prospects to respond escalate. You stand apart from the other sellers who blend together as inbox clutter.
Sound hard? It doesn't have to be.
You know that it's your personality and message that distinguish you on the phone. But, when you write, you have to be really careful that the words you choose let your personality shine through. If your prospect can't feel your personality, you're no different than any other seller trying to get time on his calendar.
Here's the story of two sellers and their very different e-mail prospecting results: Eric, who follows the email prospecting rules perfectly, and Mae, who breaks the rules and allows her personality to shine.
Eric sells IT maintenance services. He does most of his prospecting via e-mail because he doesn't like to cold call. He has an outstanding value proposition including impressive financial results clients have received in reducing unplanned IT expenditures.
Eric adapts his value proposition to the group he’s targeting and follows all the e-mail prospecting best practices.
• Limits the length to four to five sentences
• Uses only one link
• Includes a tag line in his signature
• Provides his phone and contact information
• Includes an offer his prospect can respond to if interested
• Writes a compelling subject line
Eric has utilized best-practices tactics for e-mail, but even quoting impressive financial results and a client testimonial, he only gets replies from 10% of his prospects.
Look at how Mae both uses those tactics and then goes beyond the norm to ensure her personality helps her make stronger connections.
Mae sells IT software and servers. She does most of her prospecting via e-mail because she sees how easy it is to grab prospects' interest and for them to click reply. She identifies a small group of prospects to target, uses a value proposition like Eric’s, then breaks the prospecting rules by:
• Mentioning something about herself in every e-mail, from running in an upcoming marathon to the kids being out on fall break in two weeks
• Consistently following up over the course of a month, gently pushing for a connection. Each time Mae forwards the previous e-mails with a general, but personal, note about the prospect: how busy they must be now that it's fourth quarter; or, are the leaves turning?
• Including a simple emoticon in her third or forth e-mail to reinforce something personal she's written, if it suits the content
• Writing a personal subject line, such as: Can we talk?, or Checking your availability Tuesday at 3:00
Mae's e-mails let her interest in talking with her prospect—and her personality—shine through. She becomes a real person who sat down at her PC to email this specific prospect. Her e-mails let prospects she's never met know it's her sending the e-mail, not some marketing system, and in turn, as they realize it, they reply. As Mae continues to e-mail them, a whopping 85% of prospects reply.
So how do you let your personality out and get 85% of your prospects to hit reply?
• Mention a tidbit about yourself. One time I emailed a bunch of prospects during my birthday month and told them all it was my birthday that month! I got nearly a 100% reply rate and started a conversation with every one.
• Picture your prospect and write as if you already know him. You know what job your prospect has, so talk about something he can relate to.
• Make it easy to reply by suggesting a couple of times to talk. You've been friendly and now you're eliminating the work in scheduling a time to talk. Of course he's going to respond because you've given him a valuable reason to take you up on your offer.
As your prospect gets to know you through your e-mails, he will respond as he would to anyone else he knows personally. After an e-mail conversation he'll want to talk to you because he knows you, likes you and feels comfortable with you. By combining best practices with your personality, your e-mails will become a productive prospecting tool—instead of a shot into the inbox abyss.
Kendra Lee is author of "Selling Against the Goal" and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products in the Small & Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. For more information, contact the company at +1 303.741.6636 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.klagroup.com.