The average professional sends 34 business-related emails per day -- and as a salesperson, you’re probably sending even more.
When you’re doing something so frequently, you might as well do it well. Yet the crappy sales emails we’ve all gotten in our inboxes is a testament to the fact that many reps are falling short.
But there’s hope -- incremental improvements can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your emails. The 10 things below can make or break your business missives, so double down on the things that work, and cut out what doesn’t.
5 Things That Break a Sales Email
Your writing is the first thing prospects will notice. Emails that are riddled with writing mistakes don’t reflect well on you or your company. Whether it’s confusing the “your” / “you’re” distinction or misspelling key pieces of information (like your prospect’s name), grammar mistakes do your reputation and authority no favors.
(Need help with business writing? Check out this HubSpot Academy Business Writing Course with best-selling author Dan Pink)
Asking too much of your prospect -- or too many things at once -- is an easy way to overwhelm them. It also undermines your credibility if you ask a prospect who’s just been introduced to your brand if they’d like a product demonstration. They will assume (rightly) that you have no understanding of where they are in the buyer’s journey or what they need.
Making everything about the transaction
Don’t get me wrong. You’re a salesperson, and your job is to close deals. But a sale is far more than a transaction -- it represents a prospect taking the first step to solving a business problem. Focusing on the exchange of money for a service completely misses the point.
Successful reps know that framing everything in the context of problem-solving is far more effective. For example, instead of asking your prospect, “So when do you think you’d want to buy by?”, ask, “When do you want to solve X problem by?”
Lack of focus
Our attention spans are incredibly short -- 8.25 seconds short, to be exact. So if you don’t get to the point (or try to make too many points) in your sales emails, you’ll lose your prospects.
Unfocused sales emails are also confusing. What exactly do you want your prospect to do? If there are multiple asks, how are they supposed to prioritize them? Don’t try to prompt more than one action per email to keep out ambiguity.
Almost half of the people delete or abandon long emails within the first 30 seconds of opening them. Keep your emails short so your prospects can read and respond quickly.
5 Things That Make a Sales Email
Remember -- you only have 8.25 seconds to grab your prospect’s attention. So to keep them reading, get to the point right away.
Clear action steps
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end of an email from a person I’m trying to achieve a goal with and realizing it hasn’t advanced our progress at all. The sales process is inherently a partnership, and every communication you have with your prospects should advance the process. Always provide next steps, even if they’re on your end, so your prospect knows what you’re up to and what they should be doing in the meantime.
Understanding your audience
Ah, email templates. Copying and pasting one email to 50 people on your outreach list is tempting because it’s just so easy. But as easy as it is to send a generic email blast, it’s even easier for your prospect to see you’ve written a bland, cookie-cutter email and hit the “delete” button.
Understanding your prospect’s needs is crucial to writing a good warm sales email. Use this prospecting email checklist before sending the first message so you can tailor communication to your prospect’s industry or online activity.
Sales isn’t a one-way street. You need your prospect to buy from you, but they need you to help them understand why they should give you their money. Although buyers are more knowledgeable than ever, there’s still an inherent imbalance of power between you and your prospect -- after all, you’re an expert in your product and how it’s used by successful customers. Be generous with your knowledge and experience, and you’ll not only foster a better relationship with your prospect, but you’ll also cement your status as a trusted advisor.
Building a relationship
Your relationship with your prospect doesn’t end when you close the deal. It doesn’t end even if you lose the deal to a competitor. There’s always the possibility of a future vendor switch, or an upsell opportunity or another type of sales opening down the line.
Being open, honest, and respectful of your prospects isn’t just good manners -- it’s good business. You should always lay the foundation for a long-term business partnership by remembering to act human and letting your prospects know your door is always open.
What do you think makes or breaks a sales email? Let us know in the comments below.
About the author
Leslie is a Senior Executive Communications Strategist at HubSpot, working with executives to translate their insights and experience into onsite and offsite content.