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I can’t tell you how many sales prospecting emails (And recently more messages through social media) I get that make me yawn or cringe because how badly they miss the mark to invoke, engage, and impress. Unfortunately, most of the sales emails I’ve seen are filled with generic business jargons, lame and self-centered excuses (e.g. touching basis, introducing products and services, seeing how I am doing…etc.), and laundry lists of functions & features hoping to hit an active pain point.

Not surprisingly the success rate of such cold sales emails within the B2B space hovers around 1% to 2%. Furthermore, nobody I know likes to send out, or be at the receiving end of these unsolicited messages. But despite the negative feelings towards email cold reach and the low response rates they still keep coming! There are a few reasons why this highly ineffective sales prospecting approach is still around:

–         Even at this low response rates the payoff in leads is still enough in some cases to feed the email blasting machines and campaigns. In these scenarios it is simply a number’s game and the more you spam, the bigger your lead count is at 1% or 2% response rate.

–         Sometimes despite the talk of enlightened sales executives engaging clients with business & industry insight, sellers go for quick-fix bulk mail campaigns and generic product centric messaging.  This is at the expense of a long term & much more effective option of enabling & empowering those sales executives to be able to have those deeper more engaging conversations.

–         Sometimes KPI’s set for leads, opportunities and budgets drive the wrong behavior, encouraging going for short-lived gains at the expense of longer term sales process improvements. For example, I have often seen marketing or Business Development departments to be pressured into spending thousands of dollars on buying bunch of unqualified leads or half baked lists instead of using a fraction of that money to train Bus. Dev. and sales reps on how to properly engage with decision makers.

But imagine, what if you could send way less emails, but get much better response rates and not make everyone hate sales people and the selling process?

Well, this may sound like a TV infomercial but I know there is a better way to use email effectively as a potent sales tool. In fact, we have been sharing one of the best prospecting techniques to engage decision makers and CXOs across the Asia Pacific region for years. The technique is not rocket science or complicated. In fact its success comes from its simplicity and a few other common sense principals that no business savvy individual would argue with. The program is about first understanding what you are doing wrong and why, and then learning how you should prospect via email, social media and phone the right way, and why. We call it The Winning Formula and I have published a successful book explaining the technique.

In the absence of posting The Winning Formula book here, I want to share some general guidelines that hopefully will help you rethink your own email practices.

1.     Stop selling – Probably the biggest mistake Business Development and sales people make is that they confuse prospecting reach with a sales call. Prospecting is not selling. If you think they are the same thing, then you have already lost.The only thing you are selling in a prospecting message or call is the next step. THAT IS ALL!

2.     Keep it short – This one is easy to fix but seems hard to do for some sales executives. This is one of the common challenges for sales folks. They like to use a lot of words to fill the whitespace on the page. Your initial engagement emails should not be more than three to four sentences. I would say four is too much. Why? Because today people have the attention span less than the goldfish (studies have shown).

3.     Get to the point IMMEDIATELY – Don’t bury your point deep in the message. If you do, you lose people before they even see your point. Keep in mind the ‘point’ is not about you; it is about them and what they want/need/desire.

4.     No hyperlinks – Your recipient more than likely does not know you and does not care to know you either, until you have proven your value. So don’t expect them to stop everything and click around your email links to learn more about what you have to say. Remember, this is not the year 1999 and people don’t just wonder around the World Wide Web to explore. Remember the GOLDFISH, did you forget already! You may have only one hyperlink on your signature line to your site or contact.

5.     Make a clear ask – Make sure to ask for something small, relevant and easy to give. Don’t make the recipient think and wonder what you want. You lose them they second they start thinking. So don’t make them think.

6.     Your emails need your real address – Anything other than your corporate domain name and your real email address is patently unacceptable. That includes the use of email marketing tools. Just don’t do it, spam blockers are wise to those methods will banish your email to the spam hole, never to return.

7.     Aim high – Stop wasting time and effort prospecting at the lower levels of organizations. Reach out to the owners, executives and decision makers because they are the people who can make budget for you if they like what you are selling.

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts, feedback and questions.

Mark Ghaderi is an author, sales coach, mentor, entrepreneur and social selling evangelist with twenty five years of driving business results across the globe.

Vital Strategies Pte Ltd. Provides Revenue Growth Services to companies across the APAC region, helping organizations to grow their top line through digital transformation and improving sales execution.

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