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6 Tips to Write More Profitable Prospecting Emails

SueHC_headToday's blog post is by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, author of Power Sales Writing: Using Communication to Turn Prospects into Clients (Second Edition) which appeared on the Selling Power Best Books for Sales Success in 2013 list.


Every day people forward awful sales emails to me. A recent favorite opened with, "I just wanted to take a moment to personally introduce myself as your sole contact for XYX company! I am truly excited to be put in this position as I am very proud and passionate about … etc." 

It seems reasonable to assume that the salesperson who crafted that email also has her own email account, doesn’t it?  Would she take her valuable time to respond to an email like that? 

What can you do to ensure your emails don't end up on the "Can You Beat This?" segment of my Facebook page? How do you write a selling message that engages buyers and creates sales potential?

Here is the most important thing to remember: prospects are just not that into you. As awesome as your product or service most assuredly is, no one will care about a cheesy, self-involved, features dump. Here’s a hint. If your email begins with the word "I," you've just put yourself in the reader’s delete zone. 

Prospects are twice as busy as you are. Treat them that way. Show value for their time and eliminate all the parts of an email that no one ever reads anyway. From my book, Power Sales Writing: Using Communication to Turn Prospects into Clients (Second Edition), here are six practical tips to help you write more exciting, appealing, profitable prospecting messages:

1. Know why you’re writing the email. Most salespeople think the purpose of an initial prospecting email is to introduce themselves. Dead wrong! You’re writing to get the prospect excited or pique her interest about how she might do the best job. So why are you writing? Plan it out.

2. Be authentic and transparent. Opening your message with: Your name was given to me because you plan meetings... is respectful and quick. It may not be earth shattering, but at least you haven't turned off your potential lead with a phony or self-serving statement. By beginning with a simple truth, you've started the groundwork for a trusting relationship. Of course, if you have a referral, always start there ("Sophie Spaniel suggested I contact you … ”).

3. Paint a picture of your prospect's success. Instead of going into sales-kill mode, think about what the prospect gains by talking with you. Let's say you're a hotelier representing a luxury brand writing to a meeting professional.  Use words that evoke a positive emotion to help the prospect feel what she can gain from talking with you. For example, “Your name was given to because you plan meetings and when you're looking for a beautiful backdrop for your event -- one that creates a relaxing, positive learning environment - we may have an awesome option for you.

4. Explain the next step. Depending on your brand and complexity of the sale, you might either explain how you'll take the next step or ask permission to do so. You might write, “I'll plan to phone you Tuesday morning to learn more about what ensures a productive event for you. If another time is more convenient, I'll follow-up as you suggest.”

5. Don't use pressure tactics. If the prospect wants to buy right away, she’ll tell you. In the meantime, avoid phrases that make you sounds overbearing. Instead, try saying, "when the time is right." This reduces pressure and sounds less pushy. 

6. Use a subject line that gets to the point. The best subject lines accurately reflect the main point of the email. If you're writing to request a phone call, the subject line could be, “Action request: Phone call Tuesday.” When you want your message to get opened, especially when you don't yet have a relationship with the reader, use a subject line that doesn't sell and quickly explains the essence of the message.

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