Emails are so important in a selling environment.
Emails communicate vital information and can help you to transform a potential prospect into a client who is interested in what you have to offer.
Similar to leaving ineffective voicemails, emails can easily be done poorly and drive little to no results.
When I worked in application sales I did 95% of the prospecting on my own. Unlike previous sales jobs where I had an online data capture machine that would create the leads for me, I had to go out there and find them all on my own.
Additionally, I did not have any automated software backing me up that would cut down on time and make things very streamlined. All I had was myself, my personal email account and the desire to constantly experiment figuring out what was the most effective approach.
After a year of doing this work I developed a mock email that I could send to anyone I interacted with and it lead to many sales during my time with the company.
I owe it all to the content itself and the obsession I gave to the process.
Here are my top 5 tips for developing the perfect introductory email for sales leads:
1. HOOK THEIR ATTENTION
This is what they say about every good book isn’t it?
You opened the first page and before you know it you are several chapters in and you couldn’t stop reading it!
If you can do this with a sales introductory email you have found the perfect structure for first time communications.
When I worked in application sales I worked in my local community with restaurants that wanted help growing their customer base.
Most of these business owners had heard of us but other than that they knew nothing about what we did.
Most of my prospects had no idea why they should discount their food in order to drive in traffic.
I took it upon myself to create the strongest email possible to help introduce myself to these new clients.
I would start out my email like this:
As you can see in this example, I introduced myself and immediately jumped right in.
My entire goal with the first part of this email is to get their attention by giving the potential buyer a reason to care.
This is their business I am talking about, one that is operating in the town I am referencing. They got skin in this game.
After this I communicate my concerns for those businesses and indicate that this is why I am contacting them today.
Following this I would give the simplest description possible of what my application actually did. You can always get into the details in the future once you have secured a meeting.
Your goal is to showcase to the person what you can do to help.
Ultimately, you want to give them a reason to hit the reply button and request a meeting. You will never encourage a full read of the whole email if you cannot hook the reader from the start.
Include facts and figures that help the customer understand why it is so important that they arrange a meeting with you.
Most of the business owners that I worked with knew little to nothing about local demographics and once this was explained it gave the prospect motivation to learn more.
In this example my clients knew they needed to market their business, that’s what every business has to do but they didn’t know why they should be doing it with my app in particular.
I was arriving in their inbox to very strategically explain the numbers behind why it was so existentially vital for the survival of their restaurant.
2. GIVE DON’T TAKE
When you open an email what is it that you are looking for? You are looking for value.
Am I learning something from this email?
Is someone offering me a product that I can use to change my life?
More importantly, is this email asking more of me than offering to me?
These are questions I ask myself subconsciously every time I open an email, especially ones where I realize someone is trying to make a sale.
After you have acquired their attention the next step in any sales introductory email is to give more than you take. Whether that be knowledge about something or the actual things you can do to help change their life.
Don’t talk about what you will need from them, talk about what you will offer to them.
In my email I would showcase five bullet points explaining exactly what I was going to do for their business, well before I ever asked anything of the prospect. My email went like this:
This was quick, concise and it helped the potential buyer see very easily all the things I was going to do for their business.
At this point in the email I would quickly transition and let them know everything that I just listed above was not going to cost a dime.
I would communicate information about our subscription program and that we make our money off the actual user not the restaurant owners. All that they would have to give were discounts for my users and we would provide the rest. It was a simple trade between their content and our marketing.
In return we would provide them with hundreds of dollars worth in free advertising help every single month.
I knew my demographic. I knew that most of these restaurant owners didn’t do much to grow their customer base, maybe they ran a social media account and a website but beyond that they weren’t doing anything to market themselves. Almost always just relying on word-of-mouth.
Breaking down the benefit in this way, it made it very easy for the prospect to see that they weren’t going to have to do very much to succeed with my app.
I had already exposed the problems that business owners faced in our market and now I was offering a solution that would help the client get a leg up on the competition that didn’t cost all that much.
Pretty hard to say no to right? That is exactly my point.
3. BE CONCISE
Another thing to contend with is the lack of time people have to read their emails.
This one is very obvious but it’s important to mention.
With my clients in application sales I only had seconds to get their attention before they were going to give up on the email or delete it entirely.
These prospects are restaurant General Managers, they have some of the more fast paced work shifts of any industry!
More than likely they were reading emails in between covering the line or helping out the front of house and by no means was this a good environment for out reach via email so I had to make every bit of it count.
Utilize bullet points whenever you can.
Break the information down into bite sized chunks with as many page breaks as you can so you do not overwhelm the reader with long winded paragraphs.
Additionally highlight certain information to make it stand out in case they literally only have seconds to look at it.
Give the prospect a reason to save the email or forward it to other business partners.
For example we had 19 thousand users in my college town of 160 thousand residents. This was a huge number that I was very proud of and I would always highlight this information (like in the above examples) and italicize it to help it pop off the page.
This among several other key points I wanted to make sure would be read if the email was only skimmed over.
Cater to your reader, make it easy for them. Sometimes, less is more.
4. BE A SOURCE OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE
This person (besides random scenarios) knows little to nothing about what it is that you offer and they need your help to understand it.
Frame yourself as the expert, even if you don’t know everything yet and you are still learning you know more than they do. Showcase that knowledge.
I had a particularly stubborn business owner who I really wanted as an offering on my app.
He ran a bar/indoor virtual golf course. It was absolutely fire content for all the college kids who used the app and all the middle age golfers that existed in large numbers all across my town.
I knew my users would love it but the owner was harder to convince.
I put together a bonus email in addition to the mock email that I sent originally and I did a walk through of all of his social media accounts.
He was posting pictures and discounts on his Instagram page (exactly what we did on our app) and was getting almost no engagement.
He had a good chunk of followers but no where near the amount he would need to drive immediate results into this business.
I collected three examples from his social media accounts and showed him that the effort he was putting into these accounts weren’t really doing much to scale his business.
I then told him that instead of having to wait until his following grew to a reasonable size, he could simply host the same photos and the same deals on my platform.
This would gain him immediate eyeballs to a large percentage of the local population because of my user base of 19 thousand people.
He loved this and immediately emailed me back to ask more clarifying questions and within a few days he signed up.
I sparked his interest by being an expert in my field.
This was a bonus email (not simply an introductory email) but the point is that if you can guess how your customer operates and use information that is very applicable to their unique perspective, you can spark that interest.
I also took the time to look through what he was already doing. I did my homework and sent him an effective bonus email to get the wheels turning.
You can do this to, no one is going to dock you for getting crafty with your approach especially if it isn’t very time consuming. Why not!?
5. GET TO THE WHY
Simon Sinek (if you don’t already follow him) is a genius of branding, leadership, cultural trends, entrepreneurship and has some very inspiring things to say. Check out his video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UedER61oUy4 where he discusses this subject.
Just like it says in the photo “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” This is exactly what I tried to do in the opening sentences of my mock email.
There exists a WHY behind everyone’s cause. Maybe someone works a 12 hour a day manufacturing job, more than likely their WHY is their family, putting food on the table and a roof over their heads.
We aren’t machines, we have passion in our lives, your job is to connect with that passion and use it as a way to help you relate with your new client.
People don’t just start a business to make money, they start them because of a deeply rooted desire to do what they love. Appeal to that energy, that cause and that motivation.
Sinek talks about how we make most of our decisions not based on logic but on feeling. You can tell someone what you do and you can tell them how you do it but when you discuss the WHY you are touching on something that is much deeper and there for more relatable.
It connects to the human inside of us.
In this email I could have started it by talking about WHAT we do which is we bring together a community of food related businesses to help create awesome deals for our users and repeat traffic for our restaurants.
I could have immediately focused on the HOW of our business. I could have told the prospect that we help businesses grow through in-app location-based advertising.
Instead I went straight for the WHY. “I have grown up in this town and I have witnessed so many restaurants come and go… That completely breaks my heart, especially when a restaurant has amazing service, wonderful ambiance, a fantastic location, and even better food/drinks to enjoy. The last thing I want is for any business, especially food-related ones to fail because of stiff competition…I would love the opportunity to help grow your business by bringing in new customers as well as re-engaging previous ones on a consistent monthly basis.”
I am not asking the potential buyer to connect with me based on a product but on a belief that small businesses matter and if they care about the community as much as I do, we can certainly make a difference together.
No matter what, the reader can see, that my WHY is their success.
If you can orient yourself in the same way, I guarantee you, your emails will not only get you more meetings and more sales but they will also lay the foundation for a well rounded professional relationship that is based on trust, value, and meaning.