You won’t get responses if your sales email looks like everyone else’s.
Unfortunately, it’s too easy to look like everyone else.
Email is more popular and convenient than sales calls, so buyers are buried under them every day. And most messages are filled with the same old phrases plugged in the same old templates.
To buyers, one email looks like the next, and the next reads like the one that follows.
But email is an important gateway: 61% of first contacts happen via email, an Xant study found.
So salespeople need it. And they need to stand out using it.
The best way: Avoid the over-used, annoying or mundane language and calls to action.
Here are 20 of the worst offenders and why you want to avoid them:
Cold or introduction email
Email has a huge reach – almost 4 million people use it every day – so it’s a natural way to get on prospects’ radars. But you’ll want to skip these kind of introductions in your sales email.
‘I just wanted to introduce myself’
Email may be the first point of contact, but using this foray into the relationship is all about you (note: “I” and “myself”) – and it should be all about the buyer.
Whether you’re a new salesperson to a territory or sending a true cold email, it’s best to focus on the prospect and/or a referral.
‘Hi, I’m Allison, a sales rep from ABC Co.’
Buyers can read your name in the “from” line (and it should have your name, not a generic company address). They will also delete your message if you tell them you’re selling something – with words such as “sales rep,” “account manager” or “salesperson.”
Get right to something that engages them, which is always something about them. For instance, “I saw the blog piece you wrote, and I agree with …”
‘Hope you’re doing well’
The premise of a cold email is to build a relationship. This phrase suggests you have an existing familiarity – like you knew the buyer just had a broken thumb or fabulous vacation.
If you don’t have an existing relationship, this phrase comes across as insincere. It’s OK – even preferable – to get right down to business in cold email and skip the feigned familiarity.
‘I know you’re busy, but …’
If you know the prospect is busy, and you send a message anyway, you’re establishing yourself as a salesperson who doesn’t care about interrupting or intruding.
Instead, offer value – not excuses – first. For instance, “Most executives want to sharpen efficiency in their operations, and our newest solution has already helped 50 companies boost efficiency by 18%.”
‘How’s the weather there?’
You can’t build rapport in email with generic questions (which may work in actual conversations). Avoid the typical rapport-building subjects such as weather, sports, local events, pop culture or shared interest.
If you insist on trying to build rapport via email, try something personalized such as, “I heard there’s a great Italian restaurant near your office. Have you been to Arcaro’s?”
‘I was hoping to …’
Salespeople email busy professionals. So being direct and confident is a better approach to winning their attention than being indirect and hesitant with phrases like “I was hoping …” or “I just wanted …”
Show them the value you bring to the table and what you’d like to happen: “Can we set up a call tomorrow?” “I want to send you samples. What is the best address for delivery?”
‘It would be great if …’
Similar to the previous statement, this one is a washed-down message – an attempt to soften the request. But instead of making a request more comfortable, it creates an easier out for the prospect.
Go ahead and be direct: “I want to set up a demo.” “I will send you a complimentary 10-minute training tool. Is this the best email address?”
‘Pick your brain’
This phrase should probably be nixed from all sales talk! Salespeople don’t want to use this phrase in writing (or word) because it’s lazy. It suggests you haven’t done your work at learning as much as possible about prospects, their challenges and needs before reaching out.
Based on what you’ve learned, you might want to “explore more” or “discuss possibilities” based on what you already researched and confirmed. But you don’t want to waste time “picking their brains.”
‘When you have the time …’
Buyers are busy, and they won’t make time for unsolicited requests from unknown salespeople.
You want to write messages and make calls to action that are specific with where, when and how. Include your calendar with options to schedule. Offer two or three time slots for a meeting and ask them to pick to the best. Invite them to an online event at a specific time.
‘What do you currently pay for …?’
Two problems when salespeople ask this question: They haven’t done their homework and are now fishing for bait. And, they’re trying making it clear they want to sell on price, not value.
Instead, you want to uncover ways to add value. “Our network has been cited by the National Conference on Business as number one in value in our industry for three straight years.”
Whether salespeople receive a response to initial sales email or not, they’ll want to follow up with more messages to build on what’s been established or make another attempt at inroads. In those messages, avoid:
‘Sorry for my persistence’
Salespeople don’t want to apologize for doing their jobs (so “sorry” is a poor word to use in any message – unless you’ve done something apology-worthy, of course).
As long as your follow-up messages are personalized – not automated – and continue to hit on value and benefits geared toward buyers, it’s OK to be persistent.
‘Not sure if you saw my previous email …’
Prospects probably saw it, and either deleted it or didn’t find value in it. You don’t want to rehash those thoughts or actions by mentioning a previous email.
Instead, focus on a different value or benefit and make a different call to action. The first approach may not have been a draw, but a new one could be.
‘Let’s touch base’
Email leaves a lot of room for non-commitment. It’s easy for buyers to trash messages. It’s easy for them to just not respond. It’s easy for them to write, “I’ll think about it.” And it’s easy for them to say they never received a message.
Suggesting you “touch base” makes it easy to lose contact. You want to give buyers a benefit for connecting again, plus an exact time and way. For instance, “Let’s talk for 15 minutes next Tuesday. I will walk you through the demo and you can sign on then to run a trial for 10 days. I’ll send an email invitation in an hour and a reminder Monday afternoon for the 9 a.m. meeting.”
Even in established, deep pipeline situations, where sales email aren’t “cold,” salespeople need to avoid putting some things in writing. Those include:
‘It’s been a while and I wanted to check in’
Salespeople don’t want to condition buyers to only communicate with them via email. Good deals usually aren’t made with communication limited to email.
Be direct, concise and timely with phone calls. Give them the information they want, without wasting time, and they’ll grow more comfortable talking and less reliant on email.
‘Have you had time to read through the proposal?’
Salespeople surely want to maintain the momentum when they’ve reached the proposal point. But a sales email isn’t the way to do it.
Proposal or contract questions and concerns are better suited for real conversations, whether on the phone or in-person.
‘What I mean is …’
Similarly, salespeople don’t want to “talk” too much about proposals in email when buyers send messages with questions or concerns.
It’s better to respond via email with something like, “That’s a great question. I’ll give you call so I can fully address it.” Or, “This will be great to discuss over the phone. I’ve left a voice message. I’ll try again tomorrow, or you can reach me on my cell until 6 p.m.”
‘I included my boss on this, and …’
It’s OK to pull in a boss, colleague or other expert in on a deal, but email isn’t the place to make the introduction. You can cc others – the boss, an engineer, a customer success rep, etc. – when relationships are established.
To avoid confusion, disconnected conversations or awkward presentations, when it’s time to involve the other person more, email something like this: “I’d like to get our chief engineer in on this conversation. She has some insight you’ll want to hear. Let’s set up a Skype for 3 or 4 p.m. today. Which works better for you?”
‘Let me make sure I understand your objection’
Objections aren’t meant for email. Yes, customers may make them via email, but salespeople don’t want to work through them in email. That will likely drag out a deal.
Instead, respond to objections or negotiation tactics with a helpful message like this, “I can help with that. Let’s jump on a call at the most convenient time for you this afternoon to work it out.” Or, “I understand what you’re saying. I’ll give you a call now so we can discuss it.”
After the sale email
Once salespeople close a deal, they don’t want to let down their email guard. There are still some things that aren’t well-presented in sales email. For instance:
‘How’s everything working out?’
Prudent salespeople follow-up on deliveries, installment and roll-outs in person or on a call. Even better, they stay in constant contact through those initial stages after the sale.
‘Now you might be interested in …’
Cross- or up-selling after a new sale via email isn’t ideal. It feels cold and will most likely sour the relationship that’s been established.
Instead, send personalized messages that reflect conversations you’ve had and value you can continue to add. For instance, “I saw this post on new industry regulations and thought it might be helpful.”