Most prospecting campaigns begin with an email. It’s helpful to think of that first contact as if you’re meeting in person. You wouldn’t say ‘Hi’ and then talk for 5 minutes about yourself. Yet so many introductory emails do just that.
You’ll get between 0.5 and 3 seconds of a prospects time for him to decide if your message is worth reading or not.
In most instances, HTML emails don’t work when reaching out to someone for the first time. Your message should be short, punctual and have just one call to action. A couple of short paragraphs max. Here’s an example:
This email got a 19% response rate – and after a few follow-up messages that increased to over 40%. It follows the 3 basic rules of an outreach email:
1 – It’s short and conversational
2 – It asks one clear question as a call to action – and not it’s not attempting a direct sell.
3 – It’s relevant and targeted.
There are a lot of other plus points too (implied referral, case study, niche product etc) but you don’t need to worry too much if you can’t fit them into a couple of paragraphs – brevity trumps in almost every instance.
The Follow Up
Once you’ve sent your initial email, don’t leave it there. Many people fall into the trap of sending one email, not getting a response and so assume the prospect isn’t interested. Always follow up. Always. You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t. The bulk of your responses will come from the 2nd and 3rd follow up.
The best follow ups are forwarded versions of the first. You send your first email and then 3 or 4 days later you forward the email again with a few lines such as:
That’s it. No need to launch into a whole new pitch, just a simple follow up. This approach has a couple of benefits:
1 – Removes suspicion of being on a list. Your contact sees that you have found the original email and taken the time to forward it again with a message. You’re breaking down the ‘I’m just on a list’ thought barrier that is stopping them from responding.
2 – Shows gentle persistence. If your email is relevant and targeted your contact is going to have at least some interest. In these instances, people are usually polite. You’ll still end up getting rejections, but at least it’s a response. Expect something like “Hi James, Sorry I didn’t reply earlier – been very busy here! This is something we might be interested in. Can you send me more info?” Of course, you will still get the ‘go away and stop bothering me‘ responses (sometimes with a few expletives for good measure) but if you’re relevant and targeted, there won’t be many.
Aim to follow up 3 – 4 times on the same email message – each as a forward to the last. Don’t do more than 4. Remember to act naturally. In the non ‘sales’ world, you probably wouldn’t follow up on an email or message that didn’t get a response more than 4 times. On the last email, make it clear that this is the last contact attempt – for now at least:
I understand you’re probably busy and so I won’t follow up on this email again. However, I firmly believe we can help you and so will aim to touch base again in a months time. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to talk.
After that email, you’ll likely get more ‘sorry – we’re interested but busy etc’ responses. That’s fine, you’ve gotten them as a lead, even if not a firm opportunity as yet – but it’s a step along the pipeline.
If there is still no response, move them off to a new campaign that starts in 30 days from the last one. The new email should contain a different message – try from a different angle this time. But keep to the general rules and you’ll be fine.
I cannot overstate the importance of being targeted and relevant. Outbound sales development is a totally different experience if you are than if you aren’t.