Every day, I receive emails from [pitiful, desperate, etc.] salespeople trying to sell me something. And as someone who has spent the better part of his 30-year career in sales and marketing, I can tell you that not only do these aggressive, high-pressure emails rarely work, they are generally so badly constructed and delivered that they have almost no chance of working.
So, for all of you salespeople – and more importantly, for your managers and business owners who just don’t have a clue – let me give you some guidelines for improving your chance of success when selling with email…
- Do not send me an email until you have earned the right to do so. Have we met at a conference? Did we connect on LinkedIn? Have I downloaded one of your eBooks? Until there is some level of connection, stay outta my inbox – you have no right to be there. Now, to be fair, if I have downloaded information from your website or if I stopped by your booth at a conference… then I acknowledge that I have ‘opted in’ to your system and would not be surprised to hear from you.
- I’ll bet 9 out of every 10 sales emails I receive are pitching products I can’t even use. You’re tellin’ me you can’t take 5 minutes to go to my website and learn a little bit about what we do? C’mon man! And if we’re not a candidate for your products, take me off you list!
- Share something of value. If your very first touch point with me is buy-buy-buy… then good-bye! Trying warming me up a little… share an article you wrote, tell me about your latest eBook or invite me to a [no-sales-pitch] webinar on a topic that might interest me. Remember this adage… “Seek first to help… then to sell.”
- Getting me to become a client is a three-step process… I have to first get to KNOW you… then LIKE you… then TRUST you. And if all I ever hear from you is “buy something from me” – then you will never make it through that gauntlet. Oh, yeah… it takes some time to get through all three levels… so be patient. [Your boss will hate that one!]
- If I don’t respond to your first email… TAKE THE HINT! Stop sending me follow-up email after follow-up email… with the “sorry I missed you” message, as though we’re old friends. If I don’t respond to a ‘cold call’ email, are you really that surprised?
- And stop it already with your “we” emails. WE sell this… and WE are great at that… WE have the best team in the industry… blah, blah, blah! I don’t care about what you can do… I care about what you can do for me! If you have any chance of developing a relationship with me, then talk in terms that matter to me – my needs, my goals, my challenges.
- Share this with your manager: from a sales support perspective, if all your company ever gives you is a list of cold names… then their marketing effort is just as lame as you selling with email. What is your firm doing to build awareness for itself and its products in the marketplace? What is it doing to help generate sales leads for you? What is it doing to position your firm as one I would want to do business with? If the answer to these questions is “not much,” think about finding a new job.
Understand this… I (as the buyer) control the buying & selling process. Not you. I have the tools to do all the research I need before making a decision. I have access to all of the vendors I need. So, stop the hard sales pitch emails – I don’t need ‘em and I sure-as-hell don’t want ‘em. Instead, share something of value with me… tell me how you can help me solve my problems… and help me understand how you’re different and why I should do business with you instead of all the other vendors.
Do that… and we might actually have a real conversation someday soon.