Today's post was written by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore (@SpeakerSue), the author of Power Sales Writing and How to Say it to Sell it. Sue helps salespeople transform their sales messages and close more business.
If you were to walk into the grocery store wearing clothing on just the top half of your body, two things would happen: 1) You'd call attention to yourself (in a really distracting way), and 2) you'd get escorted out of the store (without the chips and beer).
Emailing is just like that. If you send sales messages without attending to certain important guidelines, you become a distraction to your own success. These eight tips from my just-released second edition of Power Sales Writing (McGraw-Hill, 2011) will help your prospects and customers see you as appropriately dressed and ready to earn their business. Your respectful attention to detail will help them feel comfortable and confident in choosing to do business with you.
1. Start friendly. Though the salutation "Dear…" may have gone the way of a carbon copy, starting with a friendly hello sets the right tone. Depending on your brand, choose either "Hi," "Hello," or any variation of "Good morning/day/afternoon." Then, use your customer's name. Research shows that readers tend to misinterpret writer intent, reading positive messages in a neutral light and neutral messages in a negative one. Take a moment to say hi to create a more positive message.
2. Match your subject line with your message. Every time the subject of the email changes, so should the subject line. Use your subject line to truthfully summarize the content of your email. Whatever you do, don't promise what you can't deliver! Be transparent and relevant and likeable. If your subject line sounds like your offer is too good to be true, your email will be deleted.
3. Save the world on your own time. Your personal philosophy of life is just that, yours, and it should not be included in your signature line. Not only do you run the risk of offending a prospect, but your philosophy can also sound pompous or arrogant. Even a seemingly safe line, such as, "Consider the environment before printing," can annoy a prospect. Why chance it?
4. Make your phone number mobile. If you want your buyer to call you back, right after the words "Please call me," include your phone number. Don't make busy prospects scroll to the end of your email to find your phone/fax number. Place important information (like your phone number) where your recipient can best use it. The easier you make it for clients to call you, the more likely they are to do it.
5. Ask for what you want! Customers shouldn't be expected to figure out what you want from them. Make it crystal clear. If you want them to get back to you, say something like, "As soon as I receive your confirmation, I'll...," or "I'll follow up with you as you suggest." Avoid using such phrases as, "What do you think?" Be specific and clear.
6. Take on the work load. It's always best to have control of the next step. Whenever possible, avoid asking your customers to get back to you. Simply say, "I'll phone you Tuesday morning to discuss the exciting options." If you ask which date is best for them, they have to take the next step – and you lose control.
7. Don't overpunctuate. Multiple exclamation points may make folks think you forgot to take your meds today. Unless something truly exciting happened (a wedding, a baby’s birth, a big contract was just landed), use only one exclamation point. Even worse than "!!!!" is "????" What is it you're really saying with all those question marks? Be careful of ellipsis points, too. Use them too much, and your email begins to look like an S.O.S. message. You can occasionally use an ellipsis to indicate missing words or a thought break, but one... often leads to another... and to... Enough said!
8. Stop the high-priority flag thing. Only flag an email high priority if your buyer has asked you to do that (so, pretty much never).
Create distraction-free sales messages so that customers feel safe and smart when selecting you. Take time to get dressed – and demonstrate your business smarts – to extend your professional reputation and get your best sales results.