Are badly written email messages subverting your sales efforts?

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In a recent episode of Aligned, Sean Doyle, FitzMartin’s CEO, hosted Lee McKnight, the VP of sales at RSW/US in a conversation about the bad email messages they both get on a daily basis. It’s an often-rowdy show that is equally alarming and hilarious, so check it out. 

Toward the end of their conversation, after having a little fun with the worst offenders, Sean and Lee spent some time talking about good sales emails and what makes them different. We thought we might explore that part of the conversation a bit further here because a bad email will seriously handicap your ability to help new prospects. And while a great email won’t necessarily close the deal, it might help you get to that point faster. 

So what makes a good, effective sales email?

Research. Given the quantity of atrocious emails that clog our inbox, maybe this needs to be said — know who you are talking to! Do the research. Email isn’t a mass media. It works best as a tool for one-to-one communication.  

Point of view. The most common offense we see in bad email is that the message is about the sender (the seller) not the recipient (the buyer). You could expand this and say it’s the problem with most bad marketing. 

Benefit. It’s your job to make sure that your message speaks to your prospect’s self-interest. What do they stand to gain from speaking with you? Make that point upfront and repeat it throughout.

Brevity. Think about how many messages you have in your own inbox; how much time you spend simply trying to figure out which messages need your attention. The people you are writing face the same problem, and maybe worse. Be concise. Say what you have to say. Take the time required to make your messages shorter.

Specifics. This goes along with Benefit mentioned above. If you are going to be concise, it is imperative to say something that matters. Don’t speak in generalities. Don’t make vague promises about “adding value.” Have something to say and be prepared to prove your claim when people respond.

Don’t play games. Don’t try to trick people. When you analyze a lot of messages you see trends. We call one trend that has become common the “assume there is a relationship” tactic. It’s where the writer acts as though you’re already talking. You can recognize this approach by phrases like, “I was thinking about our conversation last week…” or “Since our last conversation…” when you’ve never met this person in your life. 

It’s a subtle form of lying that relies on the fact that you are busy and won’t remember everyone you’ve talked to. Don’t do that. 

So there you have it. A few simple tips to making email an effective tool: 

  • Know who you are writing to
  • Have something to say
  • Get to the point
  • Make it about the reader, not you
  • Be specific.

There is more of course, but if you do these simple things, you’ll greatly improve your results. And a reminder, if you haven’t listened to the latest episode of Aligned, it’s worth checking out. Sometimes the best way to improve your own work is to hear how it should NOT be done. 

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