Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5 Tips for Crafting Provocative E-Mails That Work!

Did you know that:
  • Your prospects receive 32% more marketing campaigns and emails than just two years ago.
  • 94% of customers have disengaged w/ a vendor because they received irrelevant or poorly crafted email messages / marketing campaigns.
You want to connect and engage with new prospects, especially earlier in their decision making process, so you are using emails /  LinkedIn in-mails to reach out...But as the research indicates, its harder than ever to break through the noise, and vital that you get your messages right to avoid permanent turn-off / disengagement.

So how do you craft provocative sales emails that will help you better connect, and importantly, get your prospects to take positive action?

Here’s our top five tips for getting your emails just right: 

#1 - You had me at hello

I received three sales emails today that had all too common openers.

The first: “Are you available this week for a meeting”? .  My immediate reaction – Heck no, I can’t keep up with my current meetings much less add a new one. Delete.

How about this one: “I’ve sent you four e-mails and left you a voice-mail, but I haven’t gotten a response” I likely ignored the emails and voice mails for a reason, and my impression, this rep’s a relentless stalker! Delete.

What about this one, “We’ve just released our latest version of PRODUCT XYZ, and are so excited about improvements in reliability and performance.“  Glad to see you’re exctied about your own company and products, but frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about are my own issues and the 20 other emails I haven’t gotten to yet. Delete.

You only have three seconds to get someones attention, and all three of these did, but not in a positive way. So how do you break through all the inbox noise and gain your prospect’s positive attention?

The key: You have to given your prospect a reason to want to keep reading. Research from IDC says that your buyers are always willing to engage with a sales rep who can help them:
  • Understand more about their industry landscape
  • Gain insights on potential challenges that should be addressed
  • Learn about innovative strategies that have worked well at similar companies
  • Detail and quantify specific revenue growth, competitive advantage, or bottom line improvements you can deliver.
You are not there to sell, but to educate and faciliate the buyer’s purchase journey. In the opener, you have to convey one of these key value-centric elements to the prospect immediately - adding value right from the start.


#2 - Short attention span theater!

The other day I received an email from a sales rep that was six paragraphs long, telling me everything I wanted to know, or moreover didn’t want to know, about this reps company and products.

With more demands and distractions than ever, your prospects have less time to process their in-box and pay attention to any email, much less another one from a vendor. You have to get to the point faster than ever.

Don’t include too much content, and for goodness sake, don’t throw every piece of information in hopes of it sticking.

The key: Keep the email short – no more than five sentences, with each sentence in a line by itself.


#3 - Once upon a time … tell your value story versus pitching your products

Did you know that:
  • 71% of business execs say content from companies turns them off when it seems more like a sales pitch than valuable information.
  • 93% of marketers and sellers continue to tie their messaging and content directly to products and services
Unfortunately, most of the prospecting e-mails I get from sales reps are all about their products / services, and little is educational or about me and how they can help.

Prospects don’t buy your product, they buy a solution to a priority issue.

You have to begin telling a story about the prospect’s issue, about its costs and how you can potentially solve it.

The key: Leverage the CLOSE™ storytelling method, starting with a discussion of the buyer and their potential issues, making it all about them, versus opening about your products and company, all about you.

In sequential order, your email should tell the story as follows:
  • Challenge (Did you know…) – research / commercial insights about challenges the buyer is likely facing with the status quo / business-as-usual
  • Loss (This is costing you …) – a description and quantification of what doing things the same old way could be costing if the issue is not addressed (cost of “do nothing”)
  • Opportunity (What if…) – a vision of how the business could be improved, contrasting this versus business as usual
  • Solution – (We can help …) - a quick mention (sentence at most) on how you could potentially deliver on this vision
  • Evidence (We have done this for …) – relevant success stories on how you’ve delivered on this promise for others in similar industries and with similar issues to your prospect. 
For more information on the CLOSE storytelling method:  How can you CLOSE the Value Gap? - http://blog.alinean.com/2014/08/how-can-you-close-value-gap.html


#4 - Once size doesn’t fit all

If you are lucky, some of your prospects are actively looking for a solution, and your email couldn’t have better timing. More often than not,  your prospect is not even aware they should be paying attention to the issues you are addressing, while others may know they have an issue, but are unclear with regards to why their legacy solutions don’t work or that there are viable solutions available.

Different buyer’s are at different parts of their journey – so leveraging one type of email for all your prospecting is not the best approach.

The key: Craft at least three different types of prospecting emails , one for each stage of the buyer’s journey:
  • Why change? – Your buyer is not sure they have a challenge worth addressing. Connect with provocative e-mails highlighting research on the issue and the cost of “do nothing”
  • Why now?  - The buyer is convinced they have an issue worth addressing, but they have a lot on their plate and may not be sure of the priority compared to other issues / projects, how the current solution couldn’t be made to work for a little while longer. Contrast your solution versus the current business as usual / legacy solutions. Quantify the low risk / fast payback and high ROI from the proposed solution.
  • Why you? – Your buyer wants information on your solution, but don’t inundate them with features and solution mumbo-jumbo. Instead, open with and focus on the business reason for your solution as the best choice – lowest risk and highest reward.

#5 – Take action –

I received an email this past week that stood out, and not in a good way, because of how many call to actions were included.

Besides the normal – call or email me to schedule an appointment, the email included three attached white papers, and at least eight  links to additional information.  Guess how many of the these I clicked on?

The key:  Don’t attach mutliple documents and don’t list link after link that you think I will click on. More is not more.  Include no more than one document or link specifically related to the email content.  Your call to action should be specific, outlining a defintiive time / date that you want to connect.

The Bottom-Line

You rely on e-mail messages to reach out to new prospects, but you have to craft your messages right in order to successfully connect and engage.

To be successful it is key to follow these five steps:
  1. Open the email focused not on your own solutions, but on the prospect’s challenges.
  2. Keep the email to no more than five sentences, each an easy to read / separate line.
  3. Tell a story about your value using the CLOSE storytelling method.
  4. Don’t rely on just one type of e-mail message, instead develop three different messages focused on each of the three major journey steps: “Why Change?”, “Why Now?” and “Why You?”.
  5. Include a focused, strong call to action with no more than one resource link / document / video and a definitive option for a meeting time / date.

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