Regardless of your business, at some point in your career you will need to generate leads. In sales, this is called prospecting. You can do this in a number of ways, but the one I’m going to focus on today is email.
Email can be extraordinarily effective. You can reach a lot of people very quickly and for those that hate cold calling, it’s a much easier option.
I’ll point out now. No matter how good you are at email prospecting, it should not be the only tool you use. It should be a part of your overall strategy. This means you still need to make phone calls and you still need to do social media!
A lot of people will be looking for the golden email template. The magical email that gets opened by everyone who receives it and always gets a positive response.
Unfortunately, that template doesn’t exist.
Like everything, successful email prospecting takes hard work and commitment.
Here are my tips on how you can develop an email that is not just more likely to get opened, but also more likely to lead to business opportunities.
- Do your research and make it personal.
Before you contact someone, do yourself a favour and do at least some basic research. Make sure they could potentially benefit from your services.
Also, make sure your email starts with their name! None of this ‘Dear valued customer’ rubbish. Yes, it takes longer to put the name on each email, but it is more than worth it!
- K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid)
Prospecting emails should be short, and easy to understand. People have short attention spans and will ignore long emails. Also, you can’t guarantee you’re emailing the relevant person in every situation. Sometimes you’ll be contacting a generic info@company email address. This will likely be vetted by a receptionist or admin assistant. You need to make sure the email is simple enough for anyone to know what to do with it.
- Speak their language.
Understand who you are talking to and speak their language. This means showing them you understand the problems they might be facing, and you can offer solutions. If you’re speaking to a site manager, you might be able to talk to them about how many square meters of interior walls you can cover in a day. But you wouldn’t want to bore Mrs Miggins in her 3-bedroom bungalow with that sort of information.
- Subject line
There have been hundreds if not thousands of studies on the perfect number of words or characters to use in an email subject line to get people to open it. They all pretty much agree it needs to be short and have a decent ‘hook’. Say something about them and keep it snappy. Try to relate to a problem they might be having. For example, if you’re emailing a new build contractor and your research shows they struggle to find reliable employees and have a high turnover of staff, you could use a subject line such as
‘Do you struggle to find reliable painting and decorating teams?’
2. Show how you can help.
‘Our decorating services have helped commercial clients like you save time and money on large scale projects’. You could even consider using a testimonial or something similar in this part of the email. Try to pique their interest.
3. Ask for what you want
Make it plain and simple. I’m looking to arrange a meeting, site visit, discovery call etc. with the person who make decisions on this.
4. Take the pressure off and make it about helping them
You’re not going to get a sale off your first email, so don’t waste time trying. Soften it up. Once you’ve asked for a meeting or to arrange a call, make it more appealing and make it about them.
‘Are you free tomorrow at 2pm for a quick call so I can learn more about your company and your unique challenges and we can decide if we would be a good fit for each other.’
A 10 minute call that could potentially solve a number of big problems for them? That’s an offer that’s hard to refuse. That’s what you’re looking for. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. (This is why companies offer free samples. Nobody refuses free samples and it starts the conversation.)
Send. Bosh. Done.
That’s the basics. You’ll develop your own templates for different types of customers so you don’t have to type out something brand new each time.
For example, you might have a template for emailing existing customers, where you just need to change the name at the top, or one for commercial customers.
The trick is to continually tweak and try to improve them. For every 10-20 emails you send, tweak the template slightly and then monitor how the next 10-20 do. If you get better results, stick with it. If you get worse results, change it back.
Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect email. The best you can hope for is to increase your response rate by a few percent here and there and keep trying to make it better.
Oh, and one more thing! Don’t forget to follow up!
It takes 30 seconds to write: ‘Hi, just wanted to follow up on the below email. Is this something you’d be interested in discussing?’
This simple might only get you a few more responses. But one of those responses could potentially be life changing. So, don’t forget to do it!