Ever gotten a sales email that addressed you too formally ("Hello Heather R. Morgan") or used your company's full name instead of the one everybody knows ("We'd love to work with International Business Machines")? What about an email that pitches a
You probably hit the delete button before getting to the third sentence, because both of these emails share the same problem. They're blatant giveaways you're part of a mass mailing and that the sender did zero research about you, your company, or your industry. Because of that, the message is completely irrelevant to you (and probably lots of other people).
So to avoid landing your sales emails in someone else's trash folder, check out these four basic tactics for making your sales emails feel more personal to your readers.
1. Use research to gather the right details about your contacts.
Remember, the recipient will have zero context as to who you are and why you're contacting them. So hitting their inbox with the same bland message you sent everyone else will not make you memorable.
Instead, you need to prove that you know all about them, even if they have no context for you. This is done with careful research, which should happen long before you ever draft an email.
Start by examining the company in question, so you can determine which departments are the best fit for your product or service, or which would most benefit from it. Note any recent developments in both the company and the larger industry, including what your target's top competitors are up to. For publicly traded companies, it's often helpful to review financials, as those indicate current challenges and pain points. Industry-specific publications and websites, and even the odd Google alert, can also help you discover these things.
2. Learn who makes the decisions and what will entice them.
What's the organizational structure of the prospective client's company? Do the executives hold all the power or is it less hierarchical? The decision-maker might not always be at the in-person meeting, so it's important to learn who can actually sign off on a deal and who represents them on the phone or in meetings. For instance, if the decision-making authority starts at the Vice President level, sending an entry-level Manager a sales email will likely will get you sent straight to the spam folder.
You can also reach out to more than one decision-maker. If you sell marketing-analytics software that condenses customer sales and survey data into easy-to-read reports, contact relevant people in IT, Marketing, Analytics, and Product Development. Each of these teams will have different needs and pain points, so remember to adjust the message accordingly.
3. Research your competitors to understand their appeal.
Most of the time, research will tell you if the company you're emailing already uses a similar product or service. If they do, take time before hitting "send" to determine the problem their current partnership is solving and how you could address that issue better and/or differently.
Understanding the competition also helps you prioritize your contacts by spending more time on the strongest leads. For example, if you find out that your target has a long-term contract with a competitor, you might still want to cultivate a relationship with them, but spend less time on research and personalization than with a company that's actively looking for a new product or service.
Never bash the competition in your sales emails. It's unprofessional and can make you quickly lose credibility. Stay focused on the problems that the prospective customer has and how you are best positioned to solve them--even when you're talking about the competition.
4. Focus on brevity and benefits.
Only after you've thoroughly investigated all this should you start writing the actual email.
Keep it short and simple; any decision-maker, no matter the size of the organization, is busy and unlikely to read a long sales email. A good rule of thumb is, the higher up in the company a person is, the shorter your email should be. Your product may have a long list of amazing benefits, but any given email should include only one or two of them, tops.
Remember, you don't need to include every piece of information you discovered about your potential customer during your research. The best salespeople pick and choose wisely. Maybe you discovered a potential customer is an avid birdwatcher. That's great to mention at the start of an in-person coffee meeting, but using valuable email space to talk about that cool bird you saw in your backyard benefits no one and adds unnecessary length to your message.
There's no one way to personalize an email. In fact, different tactics will work for different customers and at different times. Track open rates and responses to get a clear idea of what's working and what needs to improve. A/B testing is important, too. Creating targeted content involves continuous adjustments to ensure that your messages resonate with prospective clients, but it's worth the time and effort.