Effective Sales Emails Don’t Use These Techniques in 2018

Trying to start conversations with potential clients using cold email or LinkedIn Inmail? Most sellers are. But are you sabotaging yourself by sending prospects the following?

You’ve got to get more creative. Templated messages can work but you need to develop your own! Simply because so many prospects are seeing so many of the exact, same templated messages over-and-over, every day.

Delete key! Spam button! (or they go directly to spam)

The other issue I see over-and-over is weak words. Love, hope, “I just wanted to” and even please. These words often have a weakening effect on your tone and message. Use them carefully!

Burnt-out Follow-ups

“I’ve hit my breaking point,” says John Barrows. “After having the same email technique used on me twice in one day, and having three of those same emails forwarded my way… I can’t stand this email technique anymore.”

You might know the one. It goes something like this:

Subject: Alligators


I’ve attempted to reach you, but have had no success. Either you’ve been eaten by alligators or you’re just plain swamped. If you have been eaten by alligators, my deepest sympathy goes out to your family members…

The message goes on to present options for the prospect to reply.

“Replace alligators with hippos, falling rocks, or whatever, and I’ve gotten some form of this email over 100 times in the past two years,” says Barrows who supports new approaches. “But we need to know when to let one go and this one’s time has come.”

Instead, Barrows recommends focusing messages on trigger events (something that is happening at the prospects’ company) or other priorities prospects have.

Bottom line: Get creative. Avoid words like:

  • bubble up to the top
  • fall through the cracks
  • checking in or following up
  • reaching out

Sales trainer, Josh Braun, gets way out of the box. One of his best performing subject lines on a follow-up is “Do you still adore me?” It’s odd, un-common and has good tension.

It gets his follow-up opened and the tone is very warm, original. In Josh’s words, “Be unexpected.”

Automation and AI

Have you considered how your automation and artificial intelligence isn’t fooling anyone? I’m in the minority on this one but standing firm.

I recently got this one:

Jeff, I found you on Google and have been digging around on your article Does your prospecting email template do this?. I am impressed. I’m apart of a tribe of software entrepreneurs who….

This is just a slice of the message. The rest of it continued … trying to sell me on a free trial for email address look-up software.

This is a common AI tactic where a sender sends phony (automated) complements to a writer of a blog post. The AI scrapes the name of the post and inserts it into a mail-merged email template… along with the first name of the author.

If you respond enough to these kinds of ploys, over time, these automated, robotic messages are easy to spot and delete. Worse, they make the real (opportunistic) complementary messages even more difficult to spot and respond to!

Again, another short-term tactic that produces results yet, concurrently, trains recipients to hate their email inbox.

Questioning Questions

Starting your cold prospecting InMails /emails with a question? Particularly, a biased question that shows your prospect “I’m looking for you to affirm this, so I can pitch you.” These can be the kiss of death.

Even if you are having success with it be advised: Potential buyers increasingly delete cold emails starting with questions … because they signal “terrible pitch ahead.”

There are two flavors of questions appearing in email messages. Those that help the buyer think …

  • delete this email (because of a negative, “biased question” trigger)
  • hmmm … (because of a positive, un-biased, facilitative question)

It’s the “hmm” we’re after. Like this: “hmmm … I never heard anyone put it that way before.” or “hmmm … I’m aware that could hurt me personally/our company but have been putting off addressing it.”

These provocations earn replies asking for details—about the thought you just provoked, not your solution.

Help the prospect see your questions as neutral to your bias to sell. In other words, don’t help them feel your question is self-serving. Instead, aim your question at their decision-making process… to generate that “hmmm.”

Don’t Attach That PDF

Do your prospects need the knowledge your document provides? Yes.

Might their job or income depend on knowing about it? Yes.

Might your case study be better than others being pushed at them … by competitors?

Yes. Let’s assume all of these are true.

It remains their decision to want it. They’ve got to want it first. Then they’ll read it.

Believe me. Customers are being smothered by sellers pushing-pushing-pushing.

Instead, help buyers want the knowledge inside your PDF — on their own terms, for their own reasons. The best way to get them to want it is to not push.

Also, most corporate email servers view email attachments from strangers as security risks. Your email may not get delivered. All because you sent it with an attachment.

Finally, “A PDF should never be able to explain the value or merits of your product within a specific context as well as you can.

So why send a deck and let a static document do the selling instead of you?” asks Scott Britton, co-founder of Troops.

Key words here are “within a specific context.”

Our job as sales people is to apply content (PDF attachments, links) within context. So if you have a case, white paper, report, infographic … whatever … effective use means applying it in context of the buying journey.

This requires assessment of the buyer’s context — first. Everything else is pushing information at someone who doesn’t want it.

What has your experience been in 2017?

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

2 thoughts on “Effective Sales Emails Don’t Use These Techniques in 2018”

  1. This is a great article telling sales people what NOT to do….where is the rest of it giving them alternatives to the “terrible” techniques you described. “Get creative” is not a very helpful piece of advice.

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