Another brilliant piece from Ari Galper about how to send that ‘first email’ to someone you think could be a good fit for your products or services. This is worth its weight in gold.
How to Use E-Mail “Cold Calls” Without Falling into the SPAM Trap!
By Ari Galper, Founder of Unlock The Game™
“I always hear people talking about how e-mail is today’s ‘killer app,'” my coaching client Janice told me when we were discussing ways of making contact with prospects.
“But I’m afraid that people will think I’m spamming them if I try to e-mail them when we haven’t met yet. I know I hate spam with a vengeance!”
“You’re not the only one,” I told her. “Spammers have just about destroyed e-mail as a legitimate selling tool, but there are still ways you can use it to open communication rather than shutting it down right off the bat. E-mail is still a totally appropriate way of communicating with someone — as long as you use language that doesn’t trigger the “salesperson” stereotype.”
First, we’ll take a close look at one example of a “cold introduction” e-mail that uses the traditional sales mindset.
Then we’ll apply the Unlock The Game™ mindset so you can get an idea of how to create e-mails that won’t trigger the negative “salesperson,” or even “spamming salesperson,” stereotype.
This e-mail is a real example that one of my coaching clients sent to me for comments and suggestions:
TYPICAL FIRST EMAIL:
My name is Michael Johnson and I am with XYZ company. We are the leading provider in back-office operations software with many clients such as XXX, YYY, ZZZ.
I’m writing you to see if you or your company would be interested in a demonstration of our software. It would be a brief 15- to 30-minute demonstration that we could do at your convenience.
Our website, dogandponyshow.com, lists many testimonials from customers that describe how we have improved their productivity, as well as complete details about our products and services.
I’ll give you a call later in the week to see if we can set up a time for the demonstration.
Does this “cold e-mail” sound familiar?
On the surface, it looks innocent enough, but take a moment and ask yourself what your instant reaction would be if it arrived in your e-mail box.
The problem is that this message violates the core principles of the Unlock The Game™ mindset by creating the impression that the sender’s only concern is making a sale. How?
Let’s look at it sentence by sentence:
My name is Michael Johnson, and I am with XYZ company. (Starting a conversation without asking a question can be perceived as an intrusion. Also, starting out with “My” and using “I” immediately focuses the conversation on you, not on your prospect.)
We are the leading provider in back-office operations software with many clients such as XXX, YYY, ZZZ. (This sentence is a mini-presentation designed to show off your client list. The writer is assuming that the prospect is already interested in the sender’s software. He’s also assuming that the prospect has a problem to be solved and that his company’s product can solve it.)
I’m writing you to see if you or your company would be interested in a demonstration of our software. It would be a brief 15- to 30-minute demonstration that we could do at your convenience. (Offering to demonstrate a solution without first determining any problem is likely to set off negative sales alarms.)
Our website, dogandponyshow.com, lists many testimonials from customers that describe how we have improved their productivity, as well as complete details about our products and services. (This paragraph continues the barrage of information, all based on the assumption that the reader is interested. If he isn’t, however, this writer has come across as a typical “salesperson.” He has communicated that he and his company are aggressive and interested only in the sale, rather than in taking the time to build trust and get to know the issues and problems that face potential customers.)
I’ll give you a call later in the week to see if we can set up a time for the demonstration. (This is the usual “assumptive” close used by most traditional salespeople. However, it only reinforces that this e-mail is an obvious attempt to get an appointment so the sender can make a sale, rather than opening communication so the sender can understand the reader’s world. )
Sincerely, ( This is the traditional cold and aloof closing.)
My comments (in bold) zero in on the specific wording and phrases that feed the negative sales stereotype and give the impression that the writer cares only about the sale.
The problem is — even if your intentions are honest and sincere, e-mails like this are more likely to burn bridges than to build trust.
There is a better way.
Here’s the same e-mail, but rewritten from the Unlock The Game™ mindset.
My comments show the reasons behind the phrases and why they both reduce potential sales tension and increase the chances of a favorable response.
NEW, WARMER EMAIL
Not sure if you can help me, but thought you could possibly point me in the right direction. (By starting off from a position of humility rather than with the typical assumptive introduction, and by asking for help, this e-mail gives the reader a chance to either tell the sender that he has reached the right person or to refer him on to someone else. )
Would you happen to know who in your organization would be responsible for diagnosing and solving productivity issues related to your technology infrastructure — specifically, underperforming servers, outdated software upgrades, or out-of-date computer hardware? (Rather than offering solutions, the writer is addressing very some real problems and issues that may exist in the reader’s company. In other words, the e-mail is about the receiver, not the sender. Also, the writer doesn’t mention any demonstration because problems must always come first, and the solutions later. )
I’m with XYZ company, and we specifically help companies solve these types of issues. ( This reinforces that the writer’s company solves problems.)
Any help you could provide would be very graciously appreciated. ( This statement expresses the warmth of the writer’s gratitude in advance.)
Warmest regards, (The warmth of this closing humanizes the whole communication. )
How do you think you would react if you received this e-mail?
Perhaps you would give a sigh of relief because you wouldn’t be feeling any sales pressure from this stranger you’ve never met.
This example shows that, even though e-mail is basically an impersonal one-way form of communicating, the Unlock The Game™ mindset can humanize the connection.
When you give prospects a chance to respond to your request for help, you increase the possibilities for two-way communication and trust-building.
“Always pay attention to how words and phrases that are typical of the traditional selling mindset can make you come across as a spammer,” I told Janice.
You might want to start reviewing your e-mails to prospects.
Does your message focus on discussing you and your solution, instead of your prospects’ issues or problems?
If you start to rethink and change your language, you may find yourself with more sales than you thought possible.
The basic principle is simple: Avoid self-sabotaging sales language.
A few weeks later, Janice reported back to me that she had been getting much more favorable responses, leading to more phone conversations with new prospects.
Try it yourself — and do let me know how it goes.
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If you want more help figuring out a non-gross and non-awkward approach to selling then check out my Heart of Selling Interview with Mark Silver