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    February 12, 2021

    How To Ensure Your Sales Emails Are Read (And Responded To)

    Managing our lives through the COVID-19 pandemic leaves us constantly adjusting to the never-ending social, emotional, financial, and physical impacts of the virus. These changes are inevitably paired with some degree of cognitive dissonance, confusion, anger, and grief. When reaching out to potential clients, it’s important to keep these challenges in mind.

    Now more than ever, it’s impossible to know what others (your clients, prospects, former customers, or other contacts) may be dealing with on the other end of your email, video chat, or text. Furthermore, it’s pivotal to approach every outreach, engagement, and follow-up with exceptional empathy and sensitivity. As a salesperson, building a human connection virtually has never been more important.

    Sales professionals have always faced challenges connecting with the right decision-makers.  At large companies, the salesforce commonly struggles with efficiency and effectiveness.  Many enterprise salespeople struggle with too much management, ironically coupled with a lack of process. Sellers at small and mid-size companies typically face a different problem: getting an introduction to the right people. Research services and social media can provide titles, emails and even phone numbers of people sellers might want to reach. But how can they ensure engagement with the contacts they want?    

    According to HubSpot, 86% of professionals prefer to use email for communication. We receive more emails than ever, and a lousy first email can prevent you from making a connection with a potential client and can lead to your message landing in the spam folder (which can affect future email delivery from your entire domain). Yet, opportunity via email remains.

    I’ll show you how to structure your first email to a key contact so it gets read, makes an impact, and allows you to begin a constructive business conversation. Most importantly, we’ll also show you how to build a human connection that won’t come across as aggressive or non-empathetic. For the sake of illustration, we’ll look at how a fictional inside salesperson – Jessica Brown, from Technology Inc. – contacts executive David Garcia, at ABC Company.  

    The bottom line to getting a response back? Keep your email short, personal, and to the point.  

    How to structure the email 

    Subject line 

    The subject line is the most important part of your entire email. The subject line alone will determine whether or not the recipient opens the message. 

    Do: Keep the subject line simple and unambiguous. Tailored to each target customer, you should create a short, personable subject line that will resonate with them. It’s always best to personalize the subject line when possible, as it will increase your chances of your target recipient opening your message. 

    Do Example: Jessica & David // Virtual coffee 

    Don’t: Use cheesy, cliché questions or phrases. Your message will automatically be deemed a sales email and the recipient will assume it has no value. Most business buyers, especially executives, don’t want to feel like they are being solicited. 

    Don’t Example: Do you need to sell more?

    The first paragraph 

    Once the recipient opens the email, the second most important part of your message is the email’s first few sentences. These alone will decide whether the prospect continues reading.  

    Do: Be human. Start by explaining your purpose. Establish common ground on a personal level — for example, mutual professional or personal connections, a school you both attended, or a club you are both affiliated with. Make a professional connection – for instance, you may have previous work experiences with their company or organization. Then, establish your message’s intention. Remember — the first paragraph should be concise and direct. If you are too descriptive, you can sell yourself out of a meeting.  

    Example: Effective first paragraph 

    Hello David, 

    I noticed on LinkedIn that you are connected to Bob Smith. He is a great friend and client of ours! To give context, I help manage the relationship between Technology Inc. and ABC Company. Our company, Technology Inc. has worked with ABC Company for over a decade, across multiple groups. During these strange times, connecting with other humans is critical. Your role and work at ABC Company sounds impactful and interesting.  I’d love the opportunity to introduce myself, learn about you, and if anything, network. 

    Don’t: Start your email with a cheesy sales pitch. Avoid using general terms about solving their problems. 

    Example: Non-effective first paragraph 

    Hello David, 

    We here at Technology, Inc are experts at understanding your business and formulating practical solutions for solving your most pressing business issues. 

    The second paragraph 

    Solidify the meeting using assumptive selling.  

    Do: Assume the meeting will happen. Depending on how you are reaching out, use a calendar invite or online appointment scheduling software (such as Calendly) to either show the scheduled event or let them pick a different time to meet. If you do not want to set the meeting time, you can suggest they pick a time that works better for them. 

    Example: Effective second paragraph 

    Let’s connect over a virtual coffee. Please let me know if this time works or feel free to suggest a better one by clicking the Calendly link below. 

    Don’t: Ask if they are free to meet. 
     
    Example: Non-effective second paragraph 

    Are you free this week to meet over virtual coffee? 

    Closing sentence 

    Again, you want to assume this meeting is happening.  

    Do: Continue to keep it simple. Show your interest in meeting with them as you confirm the set date. 

    Example: Effective sign-off 

    Looking forward to meeting you soon! 

    Kindly, 
    Jessica 

    Don’t: Waste space telling the recipient something they already know.  

    Example: Non-effective sign-off 

    Please note my contact information is at the bottom of this email. Thanks! 

    Kindly, 
    Jessica 

    Now, let’s put everything together in an example email.

    Subject: Jessica & David // Virtual Coffee 

    Hello David, 

    I noticed on LinkedIn that you are connected to Bob Smith. He is a great friend and client of ours! To give context, I help manage the relationship between Technology Inc. and ABC Company. Our company, Technology Inc. has worked with ABC Company for over a decade, across multiple groups. During these strange times, connecting with other humans is critical. Your role and work at ABC Company sounds impactful and interesting.  I’d love the opportunity to introduce myself, learn about you, and if anything, network. 

    Let’s connect over a virtual coffee. Please let me know if this time works or feel free to suggest a better one by clicking the Calendly link below. 

    Looking forward to meeting you soon! 

    Kindly, 
    Jessica 

    Make it count 

    When you use your first email to establish a real human connection, you have a much better chance of starting an ongoing conversation that leads to new business and — in the best case — a long-term relationship. 

     

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    Candice Hyde

    Candice Hyde is a Senior Business Development Manager at The Spur Group with over 15 years of experience in Sales, Management, and Business Development. During her career, she has created strategic partnerships with several Fortune 500 companies. Candice believes in a collaborative, relationship-focused approach.