"Should I Email My Prospects Before Calling?"
I get this question a lot. I understand it. Most sales reps are tired of getting rejected when selling over the phone. It’s natural to look for a solution that minimizes our own pain. Unfortunately, emailing a prospect before calling them only lessens the pain of rejection but it does nothing to lessen the pain of missing quota.
So here’s my take:
Rule #1: I don’t blind email someone I have never had any interaction with.
- They contacted my company
- They attended one of my free webinars
- We connected via LinkedIn
- They were referred to me
Rule #2: When tempted to email a prospect instead of calling first, remember rule number #1.
CASE IN POINT
Below is an unsolicited sales email I received. After a few seconds of reading it, I was about to hit the delete button when I realized that I myself have sent emails like this in the past (and probably much worse) before I learned the error of my ways and so I thought I'd break this down for you, and show you why these types of emails get low results and what changes could be made in order to improve results.
FAILED EMAIL EXAMPLE
Paragraph 1: Hi Michael… Are you looking to target a specific market for your products or services?
This is a dumb question. Why? Because the answer is obviously: "yes". Every business owner / marketing director etc wants to target their message to the appropriate audience. Asking this type of question marks you as a "typical" salesperson using old tactics that prospects see right through; and that creates distrust from the word "go".
Paragraph 2: If yes, our (company name hidden) can provide the best (what they were offering) which will definitely yield positive leads for you.
Really? You're the best? And it will definitely yield positive leads for me? You know this without asking me any questions about my business, or what I'm using now or how I'm using it and why?
Making guaranteed statements like this to your prospect before having a conversation (read: diagnosing a problem / qualifying) with them tends to invoke skepticism.
You're creating doubt on their part before ever speaking with them. It’s hard to make a living selling that way.
Paragraph 3: We provide ___________ (and they gave a laundry list of things they provided and in what verticals etc - and I mean a laundry list!)
In the sales world, this is called "spraying and praying". It rarely works.
Besides, each business will have their own decision making and purchasing process… you don't even know yet if the person you are sending this to is involved in the decision making process or to what degree.
Some CEO's are heavily involved with the decision making and others pay someone else to handle certain type of decisions… so which one are you emailing? The fact is, you won't know until you speak with them. And if you try calling them after they've read this email, they most likely will avoid you at all costs. Why? Because you gave them enough information to make an ill-informed decision and it’s usually; “No, thanks!”.
Most prospects won’t know they have a problem until you engage with them and ask the right questions!
Paragraph 4: Our Key Variables are ______________ (and they went on and on again about their offerings)
By now I had already reached for the delete button because they failed to do what they needed to do in the first 5 seconds: Pique my interest and spark a positive reaction.
Paragraph 5: Maximize your direct mail and telemarketing efforts by using our quality email lists. All emails addresses are ______________ (and one more time, a laundry list about them and why they are the best)
It was a long email. One most prospects wouldn't take the time to read.
So, what could have been done instead that would produce a more positive response?
Here are a couple key factors to remember when creating your email message:
1) It's too early to present / pitch your solutions… you haven't even confirmed a problem yet.
2) Just because their title says they are the CEO (or whomever you normally speak with) doesn't mean that they all have the same decision-making and purchasing process. You'll want to discover that before offering a solution… and we can't do that through email.
3) Create an email that will do two things very quickly: Pique Interest and Spark a Reaction (either a call back, or an email reply)
What could have been sent with a more positive outcome?
How about something like this:
"Hi Prospects Name:
This is (Your Name) with (Your Company) and I just left you a voicemail regarding how we help (name the vertical of your prospect) generate pre-qualified prospect lists that typically produce about a 20% increase in sales for our clients.
One our last clients gave us a testimonial saying how we help them generate an additional 22% in revenue in less than 90-days and wanted to see if it would make sense for us to have a quick conversation in order to determine if what we have to offer may make some sense for you to consider as well.
Please reply to this email with a date / time that works best for you and I’ll set it up for us. We should only need about 15 minutes to determine if this is something we should discuss further."
Now, you don’t have to use this word for word and I’m not saying this is the only way to go. But my experience shows that this last example gets far better results.
So in short, I would call first, and if I got voicemail, I'd leave a message and then follow it up with the email above.
Hope this was helpful.
CSS: Chief Sales Scientist
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