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Sales Email Open Rates

Sales Email Open Rates Vs. Talk Time

The most common theme I hear CMO’s, CRO’s, Business Development Directors and Sales VP’s discuss is their team’s sales email open rates.

I believe their attention is in the wrong area, and it costs them, their team and their company, lots of lost revenue potential.

The Sales Email Boom

Sending massive sales emails became popular when Aaron Ross of SalesForce wrote his book Predictable Revenue. In the book, Aaron explains how he decided to send massive amounts of emails to prospects, rather than calling them. And, for Aaron and SalesForce, the method paid off.

The sales emails Aaron sent out bubbled the needles in the haystack to the top and turned cold prospects into warm leads.

It got the phones ringing, so his sales reps could have conversations with prospects interested in learning more about what they offered.

This was when “email marketing” was new, the SalesForce CRM concept was unique, and sales emails were not flooding inboxes.

Things have changed since then.

Today, decision-makers are bombarded with sales emails that they consider SPAM.

“21% of email recipients report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t, and 57% consider a message to be spam if it isn’t relevant to their needs even when they know the sender” Source: Copper Chronicles.

When sales leaders have to explain why they missed their revenue goals, their boss won’t want to hear about sales email open rates.

A Flawed Sales Strategy

Sales leaders who are struggling to hit revenue goals pull out their playbook and review it with a fine-tooth comb, dot their I’s and cross their T’s, and yet, their team still struggles to hit their numbers.

I believe it’s because today’s standard sales playbook is flawed as they miss the most important metric that will help them hit their sales numbers and revenue goals:

Talk Time.

Talk time is the amount of time each sales rep is on the phone with prospects each day.

You didn’t hire a sales team and give them each a base salary of $40k+ a year to be a word-smith or content writer. You hired them to generate new business. And to do that, they need to have conversations with prospects via phone, face-to-face, or online (Zoom, etc.).

I once had a mentor that told me:

“Pedone, give me 60-dials and or 3-hours of talk time per day, and I won’t care what you do with the other 5-hours”.

I was the number one sales rep in the company following that plan.

Not everyone agrees with this metric, however.

InsightSquared believes talk time is a wasted sales metric.

Their reasoning is:

“10 calls that last 1 minute look the exactly the same as 1 call that last 10 minutes. There is no way to know which scenario actually took place with just total talk time.”

Here’s why their advice and position will cost you lots of lost revenue if you follow their logic:

For starters, VOIP tools like RingCentral allow you to quickly see the length of each call a sales rep makes, and sales managers can download the recordings of each call that they want.

So if they see a call that lasted 10-minutes, they can download and listen to see how the call went.

As a sales leader, which would get your team producing better results:

1) Figuring out how to improve your open rates; or

2) Grab the recording of that 10-minute sales call and review it with your rep(s) on what they did right and what they need to improve on.

With talk time, and today’s technology of recording sales calls, you have hard evidence of the WHY. As in WHY didn’t that deal close.

What could be more valuable to a sales team than having their manager take a recording of a real sales call and break it down for the sales rep as to what they need to do better on the next call?

Do that a few times per rep, and you will have a well-oiled sales machine!

“But we need better open rates to improve talk time!”

If we start with the understanding that open rates do not pay the bills, we can be on the right track to include open rates as part of the sales solution to generate more revenue.

Here’s one way to do that.

The Power of Marketing Automation

One successful sales strategy is to have marketing continue to build a database of potential suspects/leads (newsletters, webinars, PPC, Youtube, guest speaker events online, etc.) and drip email market valuable information to the database of prospects.

When you use a marketing automation platform (eTrigue, Pardot, etc.) and run email campaigns that offer valuable tips, these platforms track the readers’ actions. This is a salesperson’s dream.

Let me break this down for you:

The current playbook has salespeople prospecting and adding their leads to a cadence or sequence of emails.

Some companies give the sales reps permission/freedom to create their emails to appear “personal,” which leads to salespeople “researching” more about the prospect to try and build rapport via email by mentioning something personal about the prospect.

This is a HUGE time suck. No wonder talk time is super low, and revenue numbers are being missed.

An alternative option could be:

1) Marketing continues to build the database

2) Marketing drips weekly emails offering valuable content via a marketing automation platform

3) Marketing Automation Platform tracks the open rates AND sends the SALESPERSON (lead owner) a lead alert, notifying them when a prospect opens the marketing email and clicked on a “hot page.”

So, What’s a “Hot Page”

A “hot page” is a page on your website that if a prospect visits the page, they are showing interest. An example will be if you have a “pricing” page on your website.

So it works like this:

1) Marketing sends out weekly tip/newsletter

2) Prospects will do one of the following actions:

  • Not open
  • Open
  • Open/click/read tip,
  • Open/click/read tip/visit hot page.

3) The marketing automation tool then sends an immediate email notification to the sales rep notifying them that the prospect just visited a designated “hot page.”

4) Salesperson picks up the phone and calls lead.

5) Salesperson either gets prospect on the phone or if he/she gets voicemail, leaves a message, and sends a personal email.

6) Sales rep schedules their next attempt with the lead.

7) Sales rep moves on to the next hottest lead.

What if We Don’t Have Enough “Hot Leads”?

If you do not get enough “hot lead” notifications to keep you busy till next week’s email drip campaign, when you are done working the hot leads you did get, you then move on to the leads that were “Open/Click/Read tip” and so on.

Sales Call Tip:

One of my students’ successful sales strategy was when she calls a new lead; if she gets voicemail, she will hang up and call right back. She mentioned that she gets a lot of prospects that will pick up the second call if it is back to back. If they do not answer on that second call, then leave a message and send an email. Give it a try!

Record Your Sales Calls

I cannot stress this enough. Sales leaders need to record their team’s sales calls when possible. And if you are not able to record your team’s calls, you MUST role-play and record those role-play calls.

There is a science to sales, but it isn’t rocket science. The sales process is straightforward. You just have to improve your sales skills to be excellent at it.

Think of it this way: shooting a free-throw in basketball is “easy.” Almost all of us can go to the line, plant our feet, and toss the ball towards the hoop.

It’s sinking the basket at a high % level that takes practice, and you won’t know what mistake you are making in sales unless you record your sales calls and have someone break it down and fix the technical errors you are making.

Sales managers who can pluck recordings and sit with their reps and correct the techniques will be far more effective at hitting the stat that matters the most at the end of the month: how much ink is on the board.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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