In today's competitive business environment, it is critical that salespeople leverage all available channels to connect with prospects. One often overlooked sales tool is email pitching. Despite commonly quoted statistics indicating around 99 percent of email campaigns are unsuccessful, this channel can be a powerful technique to initiate a mutually beneficial dialogue -- but only if done correctly.
Here are seven critical mistakes salespeople make that dramatically decrease the value of their email communications.
1. Boring and Irrelevant Subject Line
The subject line of your email will either encourage your prospect to open and read it, or immediately trash it. Make it interesting and pertinent to their business. Jill Konrath, award-winning sales thought leader and author of Selling to Big Companies, advises using a subject line that is company-specific - such as including the name of an employee referrer or an exclusive factoid of interest. Avoid salesy subject lines that offer services or promote your product.
2. Content Isn't Personalized
Templates are the downfall of many an email campaign. Kendra Lee, founder of sales and consulting firm KLA Group and author of The Sales Magnet, expounds the importance of crafting relevant emails that speak their language. After making an initial connection with the prospect, clearly demonstrate the research you've done to show you understand the company's business. Use a conversational tone. Make sure your email is addressed to an appropriate individual, and signed by you personally with your contract information.
3. Emails Are Too Long
You have less than 20 seconds to catch a decision-maker's attention when they open your email. Mark Wayshak, sales strategist and author of Game Plan Selling, reminds us that emails should be sent with the sole goal of eliciting a response - not educating a prospect, not building a relationship, and not making a sale. The ideal pitch email should contain 3-6 sentences and should focus on the company and its needs.
4. Emails Are Too Promotional
Don't launch into a pitch about the benefits of your product - you're simply trying to pique a prospect's interest. Kendra Lee reiterates, "The only way they're going to pay attention is if they see an immediate benefit that relates to them." Try describing the experience of similar companies facing comparable challenges, and the results your partnership helped them achieve.
5. Call to Action Is Too Complex
Remember, all you're looking for at this point is the initial bite. Nobody wants to sign up for a lengthy webinar or presentation that screams "I'm Selling!" Instead, focus on providing something of value to the prospect. Sam Laber, director of marketing at sales intelligence platform company Datanyze, agrees. He reiterates the importance of ensuring prospects understand exactly what action to complete after reviewing emails, such as responding to the email to receive relevant white paper data.
6. Poor Follow-Up Strategy
Nothing alienates a prospect more than excessive follow-up (or spamming). Worse is the salesperson who sends an email pitch and never follows up at all. An email campaign's success relies heavily on the follow-up tactics used by the salesperson. Kendra Lee recommends cold calling prospects a few days after the email is sent, while Jill Konrath reiterates the importance of providing business value in every follow-up interaction.
7. Not Testing Various Approaches
It takes practice and analysis to determine what components of an email campaign work and what should be improved. Kendra Lee reminds us to "test and test again." Only by trying out new subject lines, content, openings, closings, length, and other details can salespeople better understand what translates into higher rates of conversion.
Take the time to develop personal and valuable emails that demonstrate your understanding of a prospect's business. Leveraging email pitches as an opportunity rather than annoyance will help you achieve your sales goals.