Bill Banham: In theory, writing sales emails seems super easy. You can write an email template, blast it to hundreds of leads, all from the comfort of your desk. But the reality is that writing sales emails is actually pretty tough. You have to think of just the right thing to say, to the right person, and at the right time. You need to be convincing, polite, and effective, all at once. And more often than not, your sales emails get sent to spam. Other times, they get read, but not replied to.
Email can be one of your best friends as a salesperson, suggests today's guest Matthew Cook, but only if you know how to write sales emails that people will actually want to open, read, and reply to.
Our guest is Toronto-based Matthew Cook. Matt has over 20 years of sales and management experience. He is the founder of SalesHub, an inbound marketing agency that helps companies generate leads, boost revenue, and adapt to the new way customers buy. When Matt is not helping companies improve their revenue, he trains and competes in half iron-man distance triathlons to “relax”.
Bill Banham: Welcome, Matt, thanks for joining us today on the CPSA's Sales Strategy Podcast. It's great to have you here as a guest.
Matt Cook: Well thanks for having me.
Bill Banham: Now, before we get into the Seven Strategies that I spoke about, just now, in the introduction, please, can you suggest one or two lessons or perhaps, new approaches you hope that the listeners of this episode will take away after learning some of your tactics?
Matt Cook: Well, I think the one thing I'm hoping people take away is if you want people to open your emails and actually respond, listen to some of the tactics that we're going to talk about and hopefully it will help you somewhat.
Bill Banham: Okay. Great. Well, without further ado, please take some time now and talk us through your formula of Seven Strategies which will dramatically improve sales emails.
Matt Cook: Yes. The first, and all of these are important, but basically having short and enticing subject lines. Too often, I see people writing almost entire sentences into the subject line. Keep them short. Keep them to the point. Make it so that it's something a prospect might be interested in opening and if it's something that's very vague, there's no way that a prospect is actually going to open that email. One thing that we track is the open rates of emails that all our sales people send and if people aren't opening them, typically, it's because the subject line is too spammy, using things like, "Our Solution," or "Complementary," or "We're having a sale," and there's something free. Try to ignore things like that and make it something that will pique the interest of the prospect.
The second thing that you need to keep in mind is, and it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, is make sure that all of the information that you're sending in the email is correct. Many, many times I've had emails sent to me where my name is either spelled wrong or it's a completely different name or the information about my company is not correct. Things like typos, grammatical errors, all of these things are going to put a poor taste in a prospect's mouth, whether this is the first point of contact or you've sent two or three emails to them, a lot of people will not forgive a mistake that you make to their personal information, such as their first name or last name. So, just make sure before you send any emails that you're proofreading to make sure that names are correct, company names are correct and that there aren't any major typos.
The third thing to look for is use formatting within the email, just to create clarity around what information you're trying to get across to your prospect. Often emails are very sure and they're all in one paragraph and if you can format it in a way where you create an introduction, basically why you're reaching out this this person. Maybe, bullet points; two or three bullet points as to why you're reaching out and why it might be important to them to get back to you. And then sum it up in a closing sentence, in terms of what you're hoping next steps might be. If you don't format your emails and you're just sending generic sentences, it's not visually pleasing to the eye, which means it's going to be less likely that they're actually going to read it and if they do read it, if there's not any actionable ideas because of the way that you formatted it, they're less likely to get back to you.
Number four is use an active voice. So the active voice is essentially more engaging. So, for example, using the active voice, "The dog bit the man." A passive voice would be, "The man was bitten by the dog." And if you use an active voice, it sounds more engaging, it sounds more confident, more energetic. It's also more authoritative and make sure that the subject of your sentence is doing the action and is not the receiver of the action.
The fifth thing to keep in mind when sending a sales email is give a reason. Another pet peeve of mine when it comes to sales emails is someone asking me to do something, even though I've never met them before. So, "I want you to book a call," or "I want some of your time," and you know, without really telling me why I should do it. And so instead of just writing, "Please call me to set up a meeting," say something like, "Please call me to set up a meeting to discuss your product to me," or "How our software might be able to solve your business needs or your business problems." If you do that, people are going to be much more likely to do what you want if you tell them why. So make sure that you give them a reason why they should get back to you.
The sixth thing you need to keep in mind is be specific. Don't say things like, "We're the leading provider of this in North America." Be specific about companies you've helped. How you've increased revenue. Have you helped them with retention of clients? Whatever it is that your product or service does, be specific in terms of how you've helped other companies because when you're making a purchasing decision, you want to know that this company or this product or service has helped someone like you. And if you do that, they're going to be much more likely to respond to your emails.
The last thing is, basically, use empathy. This is probably one of the most important things when you're writing emails. Tapping into their emotions. So someone, like myself, for example, I'm very busy, so someone that acknowledges that. "You know what? I know you're a very busy person and you don't have a lot of time, but here is some reasons why it might be good to engage in a conversation."
Speak to the person's pain points. So what might the CFO's pain points be or the CEO's pain points be of your prospects and include those into the main body of the email and how your product or service or solution addresses those specific pain points. If you use that, they're more likely to be engaged and more likely to say, "Yeah. This person understands what my needs are or what my business problems might be."
Bill Banham: Fantastic. Thank you very much. Here's a supplementary question for you, Matt.
Matt Cook: Sure.
Bill Banham: In terms of the multi-channel sales panel. Say you've got SEO up here, PPC, events, telephone, good old fashioned telephone, various other activities at the top, where does email sit in terms of importance? Is it still, in your opinion, the most powerful tool for initial outreach, for example?
Matt Cook: It is, just because you can send out a number of different emails at the same time. It's very difficult to attend multiple trade shows or make multiple cold calls or attend industry events. Where, as with email, you could send out a hundred or two hundred outreach emails to a prospect at the same time. You can also automate some of your responses with marketing automation software that exists now, which again, just helps improve productivity. So, sales emails are still incredibly important in a B2B and B2C setting.
Bill Banham: So, we're recording this podcast towards the end of 2016, back on July 1st, I think, 2014, the CASL restrictions and legislation came in. How did that affect, from what you saw, with clients that you work with in your own company, how did that affect changes in terms of communication through email in Canada?
Matt Cook: Well, I think the biggest change was you can't just send out emails to people that you haven't had dialogue with, which I think is a really good thing. It actually helps improve the effectiveness of email and one of the techniques that we've actually seen work really well is an initial outreach call to a prospect where you say, "I'm calling from Company XYZ, my name is Matt, we have this product that helps companies like yours, would it be okay if from time to time I sent you information on that?" And if they opt in to that initial campaign, we've found that the emails that are sent, subsequently, are actually very, very effective, in fact, way more effective than if you sent just a cold email.
Bill Banham: Now, if you send an email, correct me if I'm wrong here, my CASL legal knowledge here, but if you send an email and they don't respond or they say, "No, you can't send another one," but there are some, almost, loopholes, if you like, in terms of sending faxes or making telephone calls. Have you seen a change in some of the activities for outreach on the back of the very slim chance, frankly, that somebody does reply and that they opt in after just one communication through email?
Matt Cook: Really, the biggest change that we've seen is more and more companies adopting, in that marketing, as a methodology to getting leads to their sales team. So that their sales teams are focused more on dealing with people that are interested in learning more about their products and services than they are just a cold outreach. But the principles I talked about in terms of writing a sales email really apply to whether or not you're talking to a prospect who has called you or someone that you've reached out to.
Bill Banham: Okay. Thank you. So, if you could leave our listeners, because we're going to wrap up quite shortly, if you could leave our listeners with some final thoughts on improving sales emails, what would they be?
Matt Cook: Well, I think the biggest thing is when you're writing a sales email, think of the other person that you're actually writing it to. Think about what their day is like, what their pain points are, what some of the solutions that your product or service or solution can solve for them and if you think about the other person and empathize with them, send a well-formatted, well-written email with clearly defined next steps, you're going to find that not only is your response rate going to be better, but you're going to have more and more people that are willing to engage in a dialogue with you.
Bill Banham: Wonderful. Thank you. So for those listeners out there that want to send you a very well crafted message in email format or maybe connect with you through social media, how can people learn more about you, Matt?
Matt Cook: You can reach me on twitter at @mattcooksales, our website, SalesHub, as well as on LinkedIn and Google+.
Bill Banham: Great. Okay. Listeners, that takes us to the end of this particular podcast. Matt Cook, I'd just like to say, Thank you so much for being our guest today.
Matt Cook: Thanks for having me.
Bill Banham: And until next time, this has been your host, Bill Banham for the CPSA's Sales Strategy Podcast.
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