When I first started in sales I would write long winded emails, three to four emails in a sequence, over the course of a week. I barely sold anything. Learning the hard way really hurt my pocket. I didn't get paid the big commissions all sales people yearn for, and I didn't feel good about myself. It sucked.
After years of trial and error and thousands of unanswered emails, I finally came to understand what I was doing wrong: I was selling in my emails. Thats right. I was selling in my emails and it was hurting my response rates big time.
Who ever said selling in emails was the right thing to do? Personally, I never take to someone trying to coax me into buying something via email, so why would I try to sell other people if I myself didn't like it. Blame it on poor training or naivety as a young seller. Either way, I was doomed before I even had opportunities to meet my prospects because I was selling in the very first email I sent to these people. Bad, bad, Nathan.
After over a decade in sales of all types- door to door, software, data, apps, advertising, sponsorships, and more, I learned how to sell efficiently and how to write emails for the highest possible rate of opens and responses.
And the most important concept in sales emails I know to be true is you should not sell in emails.
Ever hear of a sales funnel? Yea? Good. So you know how they work and you understand the concept of leading prospects through your funnel all the way to purchase, right? Perfect.
Then why are you trying to sell people in your first emails? Its blasphemy.
Sales funnels don't have one single goal. A successful sales funnel has different goals throughout different stages of the funnel. The first initial stage's goal should be awareness and thats all. Do whatever you have to do in your emails to make sure you reach your goal of making your prospect aware of your company and what you do and thats all.
Next time you send an email to someone cold, I dare you to make it less than four sentences and try not to sell. If your response rate doesn't increase let me know and I will Venmo you $1. Seriously. I believe in this strategy because I've been working and thriving off of it for years now. It works.
Why & How to stop selling in your sales emails:
Have a clear goal in mind and stick to it:
Whats your objective? When first trying to get a hold of someone via email, the objective is usually: #1- making the receiver aware that you exist, and #2- getting the receiver to take action (subscribe, respond, schedule, whatever).
Achieving these two things shouldn't take more than a few sentences.
When I first started writing emails with the goal of meeting setting I tried many different strategies. I thought conveying the value in what I was selling was the most important thing to accomplish in my first email. And I was wrong. I also thought that I should be getting meetings after sending one email to a prospect, asking them for the meeting right off the bat and then being disappointed when there wasn't a response. My goodness. So wrong.
If your goal is to get a meeting with someone, by all means, ask for the meeting. But don't rush the process. First, let them know who you are, then explain the value for them, then ask for the meeting. In my opinion, this should be done over the span of 3 emails, but we're all different types of sellers and your outbound email sequence will be different than mine. Do what feels right and be yourself in emails.
Let your company's resources do the talking for you:
Chances are, your company has a website. Chances also are, your company has social media, a blog, and special pages on your website with all the wonderful information people need to get educated about your company. Use those resources to your advantage in every email.
Don't rewrite what your website already says. Instead, link your website name in the email and send your prospect where all the beautiful design (hopefully), stories about your company, and information lives: your website.
If you don't get detailed on your site then make secondary pdfs you can sent to people AFTER you ask for permission. NEVER EVER attach a document to the first email you send. It will land in SPAM or worse, your prospect will laugh you out of their inbox and block you.
Don't sell in your emails until given permission:
Seth Godin created the philosophy of permission based marketing- the privilege (not the right) to deliver content people actually want to receive and see. Permission based selling is essentially the same concept applied to 1:1 selling. Maybe you cold call someone and ask if they have 10 seconds to listen, or maybe you cold email someone asking if you can send over some info, either way, you should be asking for permission.
Five years ago, permission based selling was barely a concept at all. I remember, in my first sales job, emailing people 2 paragraphs of information about my company, sometimes more. And if someone responded to my junk emails, ohhhhh baby, they were in for a massive follow up email. This wasn't always the case, but sometimes was.
But today's selling and buying environment is totally different than five years ago. Today, research shows that most prospects are already 80% through the buying process before speaking with a sales person. That mostly has to do with marketing, but still. Having hoards of available information readily available as a buyer is now the norm.
Realize this in your outbound work and live by it.
Be human. Be yourself:
When it comes down to it, people buy from people. You should never put on a front or act differently online than you would offline. Be yourself in emails and don't be afraid to let some personality shine through after you've connected with someone.
In, "To Sell Is Human," the author, Daniel Pink, shares stories of decision makers at companies deciding on new software vendors with the thought of who (people) they would enjoy working with most. If a sales person wasn't exactly the friendliest or incompetent, those factors weighed in on those important decisions.
People want to work with genuine, kind, helpful, people. Be yourself. Be human. Sell more.