No matter what target market my students are calling on when sending cold email messages, I see the same weak spots over-and-over. Unknowingly, sellers are often sabotaging themselves by “blasting” prospects:
- long, un-personalized “push” copy (rather than pull)
- persuasive marketing prose (rather than copy that embraces rejection)
- using words that sabotage (signal “I’m needy” or “I’m a waste of time”)
Let’s say you’re aiming to start a conversation with an executive decision-maker. You sell a product or service that takes time, involves “consultative selling,” probably requires a few yeses. Your biggest enemy is the status quo.
Starting a conversation with email can happen. I’ve seen it.
But increasingly chief executives and top VPs are suffering from inbox saturation, in general. Mostly from SDR/BDRs (sales and business development reps) whose approaches are obnoxious.
Moreover, it’s not effective at starting conversations.
Shorten, Personalize and Pull
Long, non-personalized messages that push meetings using “blasts” that “push on pains” are not good conversation-starters. Yet we see them all the time.
The goal of your cold email is to provoke a reaction — that leads to a short conversation, qualifying a longer one … or not. No is a great answer too.
The goal is not to get referred. It’s not to set a date for a demo or meeting. These are what I mean by pushy.
Before pressing send make sure your email:
- contains a first paragraph proving you researched the prospect
- takes 10 seconds or less to read
- does not ask for a meeting
- contains a provocation, likely to trigger a reply asking for clarification
Calling on C-suite executives comfortable with the status quo? Generating a conversation with these people takes more than a “blast.” It takes a personalized message that is short (and provocative) enough to attract the prospect.
Don’t push, pull. Attract.
Don’t Need the Sale
Want the sale. Don’t need it. Show your prospect you don’t need it. Shift the tone of your cold email by shifting your mindset. This avoids writing in ways that communicate “I’m desperate for your business.”
Some of my best students avoid these words like the plague:
- Looking forward to
Each one of these adds up. Every word counts. The more weak words used the more you help readers feel you need the sale.
The more weak you sound the less attractive you become.
Think about it this way: If a prospect truly believed your solution could double their productivity or increase revenue by 30% would they delete your message?
No. They would immediately hit pause (on what they’re doing) and make time.
Don’t Signal “I’m Wasting Your Time”
When a prospect deletes you they actually mean “This isn’t worth a moment of my time.”
Why? Because you convinced them it wasn’t… often by using weak words.
Time is another element where your words demonstrate lack of respect. Often unknowingly. Do you ever use these phrases?
- As you probably realize …
- Again …
- Obviously …
These are all words that communicate, “I’m about to waste your time” to your reader. I’m about to tell you something you already know. Or I’m about to repeat myself. Or I’m about to tell you something obvious.
People don’t have time for you when you signal “I’m good at wasting it.” Your words are powerful. Keep this in mind.
As a sales person, your goal isn’t to convince the prospect to talk with you. That speaking would be smart. The goal is for the prospect to convince themselves that talking is smart … if, in fact, it is.
Stop trying to persuade. Everyone hates strangers who try to persuade them, especially in an email.
Are your cold emails and voicemail messages helping buyers feel an urge to ask for help? Are your follow-ups helping them reach conclusions on their own? That’s different, powerful.
Or are you trying to persuade the prospect you are credible?
I know experts say, “you’ve got to write something convincing them to reply …” and “you’ve got to appear credible to earn the response.”
No you don’t.
You have to be provocative, not credible. Credibility comes later — when a customer is considering doing business with you. You don’t need to have credibility to initiate a short conversation about a longer one.
You need to be provocative.
The problem with using words that posture is… well… you’re posturing. You’re trying to appear credible to someone you don’t know. And that never works in email, nor in general, when you talk about yourself.
When we try to appear credible we actually “signal” to strangers:
- I have my own agenda
- I am out to convince/persuade you
- I know you won’t believe me, so I’ll bring in 3rd parties to prove it (your research report, your Gartner praise, etc.)
Instead, challenge the prospect to challenge you!
Make your claim. Boldly. Let them react to it. Let them label it nonsense or ask you to prove it.
Now you’ve provoked a discussion.
I have many students who do well with CEOs and CIOs using the phrase, “unorthodox but effective” when describing a strategy or tactic … relating to what they sell. This dares the prospect to hit reply and ask, “ok, you’re on. What’s so unorthodox about what you’re asking me to consider?”
What has your experience been?