Think about how many emails end up in your inbox each morning, and how much of your day is spent hitting the “reply” or “trash” button. I am amazed at the number of sales people who are prospecting (or not) and using e-mails to try to get something started. Yes, e-mails are safe, but phone calls are better. That said, if you must email, these five golden rules will help your e-mail make the “reply” round, and avoid the trash. Read on for tips on crafting those effective emails.

1. Keep it short

Brevity is key in all forms of communication today—100 words or less. At a quick (and I mean quick!) glance, you want your prospect to discover:

  1. Who you are, and what company you represent
  2. How you identify with their challenges
  3. An invitation to talk personally

2. It’s all about them—not you

Count how many times you say your own name or company in an e-mail. Now count how many times you reference the prospect. What’s the score? It better be on the prospect’s side. We’re identifying with them in this e-mail; not pushing yourself or your services on them. For example:

  1. I emailed you to quickly find out if what we offer can help you…
  2. Executives like yourself are asking questions like:
    1. How can I…
    2. Is there a way to lower…
    3. How can I stop…
    4. The rest of 20XX is looking optimistic on many fronts. Would like to spend 15 minutes talking about your challenges for the rest of this year and the start of 20XX.

Also, use referrals and references. It is the No. 1 way to get a cold call to a warm call.

3. Use questions

Questions get the prospect’s gears turning, and they are more likely to be engaged (sales people tend to think questions are meaningless). Statements go right over the prospect’s head (while sales people tend to love them). Please remember to use ‘AWAY’ questions so you can minimize the rejection rate.

4. Use away language

A common challenge with sales people is the tendency to push features and benefits on a prospect. While this makes us as sales people feel great, it does little to impress the prospect. Eighty percent of people will run away from pain, rather than towards pleasure.

Example: Don’t say, “Our software processes 50 percent faster and costs less than Company XYZ!” Do say, “Are you finding yourself frustrated with the processing speed of your current software? Do you find the costs outweighing the benefits with the software you’re currently using?”

5. Call-to-action

End your email with a call-to-action. What is going to happen next? Some examples would be:

  • Give them an easy way to contact you
  • Insert appointment download
  • Give them options

Prospecting is an action that needs to be done year round. Remember, the best way to create energy is by picking up the phone, but emailing can be effective if you follow the five golden rules.

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