In my years as a sales rep there are a few things I have picked up on that stand out as “something I wish I’d known earlier”. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I used to worry about whether or not I was “good at it” but then realized that good is subjective 100% of the time. Originally, I wanted to write for newspapers, magazines, online forums, and so on. As it turns out, writing persuasive emails is far more fun and exciting for me. When writing persuasive prospecting emails, the goal is to gain attention, but not just any attention, positive attention.
This is much harder to achieve than it’s ugly cousin, negative attention. We all have a tendency to focus on “the problems”, but that’s often set a tone for stress and pain in the minds of our clients. Why shoot for this? No. Instead, we should strive for good, positive, and easy-going attention; attention that incites progress in the minds of these fine holders of the purse-strings.
Some Key Ingredients to Writing Emails That Persuade.
There are a few parts of a successful email worth noting if the intention is to gain any type of momentum toward setting a meeting. A strong intro, of course, a compelling reason for the outreach, and a call to action certainly come to mind. However, there are some nuances to consider when writing your message to a prospect. Not everything is meant to be “scaled” and quality emails/messaging is one of those great many things. Sometimes, we have to accept the fact that good is occasionally the enemy of perfect. Conversational is often the way to go. Here are a couple more ingredients to leverage when writing your persuasive messages.
- Make a statement Ask a question. The pattern typically prompts deeper thought when responding.
- A call to action is not always a request for time! We’ll get into that in a bit.
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Diction.
The words we choose matter when your prospect is skimming your message. I know what you’re thinking. “Skimming? I did not write my email with the intention of it being skimmed”. While that may be true, you are not Earnest Hemingway, and therefore your email is likely to look less impressive to the recipient than it does to you, the author. It’s also one of the hundreds of emails this decision-maker gets every day. If you want the details to be seen, it needs to stand out. The language needs to fit the reader. Start asking yourself who this is for, and use language that’s appropriate for your specific reader. I suggest reading the bios and job descriptions of your prospects before ever writing a single word.
Don’t be tuned out to tone.
Like most, you probably write – and hear – a specific tone in your voice as you write your masterpiece. Well, guess what. That tone of sarcasm that you thought was so funny when you wrote it, is completely lost and comes off as rude when your reader reads your email. It’s not as funny as you thought. FAIL!
Tone is completely lost in text. It’s why we get text messages from people and occasionally think and feel that they are being crass, mean, or hurtful, but they aren’t. We hand the phone to our spouse or friend and say things like “how do you read this?”
It’s because we want to be sure we’re not assuming the tone we hear in our heads is how the message is supposed to read. What we’re really saying is “am I reading this right?” and that is human nature, and therefore, unavoidable. Be careful with your little jokes, and quips. They may not be as entertaining to the wrong person on the wrong day, and could cost you a reply. Isn’t that what we’re all after?
Three Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Persuasive Prospecting Emails
I’ve made my fair share of mistakes while writing to prospects. I still struggle occasionally today even after all the emails and direct messages I’ve written over the years. True to form, once something is written, there’s no getting it back. Here are my top 3 mistakes the hard way with writing persuasive prospecting emails:
Mistake 1: Don’t be so familiar before earning it.
We have a tendency to write as if we’re speaking to an old friend. “Hey dude” and “What’s up bro!” can be phrases we become comfortable with when we feel we’ve developed a rapport with a prospective client. Let me be frank with you here, no amount of rapport or history makes this okay in the eyes of your readers. Being overly familiar with a prospect only adds to the false sense of confidence we already have as sales professionals. Do not wait until you lose a deal due to this problem before learning it here and now in this article. This is business. Be a professional.
Mistake 2: One email won’t make it happen.
One of the biggest problems we have as salespeople is consistency. If it doesn’t yield instant results, we seem to feel it’s a lost cause and doesn’t work. This is partly due to most of us growing up in a swipe-right-world, but sales emails are not meant to be viewed as applications like Tinder, or Facebook, or Instagram. One perfect message doesn’t exist. If it did, and I knew what it was, I certainly wouldn’t be working for a living. I’d be sipping mai tais in Waikiki right now. Your messaging is about a contact strategy overall, not the perfect email, direct message, hand-written note, and so on. Be consistent with your writing.
Mistake 3: Stop asking for time with each touch!
This is arguably the hardest thing we change as salespeople writing to our prospects often. We always hear that we need to have a “call to action” in every email, but leadership never dives into what that actually means. As a result, we feel the only logical way to ask for something in a message is to ask for time. Why is that? There are so many calls to action we could consider, but “can I get time on your calendar” is all we ever request. Why? We could ask for lots of different things. Time is the most valuable thing your prospects have. It’s also the thing that 99% of sales reps ask for when they think of a “call to action”. Think about it this way, if every decision-maker took every opportunity to hop on a call with every rep with a request for time on their calendar, no actual work would ever get done. Be different. Ask for something else once in a while.
Some Asks To Consider:
- Choose an article to send and ask for their thoughts on a specific passage.
- Ask if they use a specific software your solutions are complimentary for.
- What processes are being reviewed at the moment?
- What was the biggest takeaway from your last leadership meeting?
- How do you currently… FILL IN THE BLANK
The above questions are all “calls to action”. Don’t know what the action is from looking at the questions? It’s to engage! That’s the action we all want, no matter what it might look like to our prospects.
Sales reps overcomplicate their outreach in some instances but simplify it to a point where it has no substance or meat to it, in others. Find the balance between the two and have a structure for your messaging. Happy to share mine with you (my reader) if you feel it would help.
How You Write Reflects in Your Book of Business
In the end, it’s our job to get attention and create interest. We can’t make anything happen until those two steps are completed. Your writing is a reflection of you as a valued connection. Writing persuasive prospecting emails is what prompts decision-makers to take notice of your suggestions, your ideas, and ultimately your solutions.
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash