When it comes to reaching prospects, there’s certainly no shortage of channels at the modern sales person’s disposal. And while there are a plethora of options, the medium that we see used most often is the prospecting email. Companies like SalesLoft and TOPO agree: email is one of, if not the most important prospecting channel.

Despite this prevalence, very few sales or marketing organizations are totally satisfied with their response rates on prospecting emails.

Why is this the case? Why aren’t your prospects responding to your email? There’s no prospecting email template that works for everybody, but there are a few approaches you should be sure to avoid.

5 Prospecting Email Pitfalls To Avoid

1. It’s All About You

“Hi there- I’m Jenny and I’d like to talk to you about our solution.”

This is about when most people stop reading a prospecting email. And understandably so—what’s in it for me as the reader? If you are talking about yourself and your company from the very start, business leaders won’t have bandwidth to give you any attention. Data has shown that opening a prospecting email with a statement focused on them can change this.

Therefore, you have to start your email with the intended reader at the center of it. Remember, your prospects are still human. People may not admit it, but everyone likes to feel like the focus is on them. Therefore, if your prospecting email prioritizes them and their needs over your solution, it drastically increases the likelihood that the prospect will interact with your email.


2. You’re Emailing the Wrong Person 

This is a mistake that I see fellow sales people making frequently in my inbox. I’m an Inside Sales professional; if you spend even 3 minutes researching me and my company on LinkedIn, it’s pretty apparent that I have very little to do with Account Management. Nevertheless, I get countless emails asking for my time to sit down for a demo of a customer success platform.

Emails like these are a result of a lack of preparatory research and lazy email merges. Not only is it a waste of time, it leaves a bad taste in a prospect’s mouth. If company X sends me a prospecting email and I am clearly the wrong person to contact, I will have a tainted view of that company even if our organization has a real need for their services. And very few people will be willing to take the time to respond and let you know your mistake.


3. You Didn’t Do Your Homework

Sales professionals have no excuse for not personalizing their messages. Almost every single prospect will have a Linkedin or Social Media presence. You can also call switchboards to find out information about your prospects. A lot of business professionals write blogs or publish Linkedin articles.

There is an abundance of information available to both sellers and buyers today. There is no need to spend days researching a company and its’ leaders before sending a prospecting email, but it behooves you to spend at least 10 minutes on company research and three minutes on researching your prospect. This will ensure you can personalize your prospecting email, and that you are in fact contacting the right person.

Data also supports the impact that taking a few minutes to research and personalize your message can have. Our own research has proven this, but Shane Snow and Jon Youshaei got the same results after conducting an experiment of their own. We at Funnel Clarity couldn’t agree with their conclusion more:

“Tactics for optimizing sales emails are well and good, but they’re not as important as personalized research and sender/sendee fit.”


4. You Are Too Cheesy or Casual

NO! I did not get eaten by an alligator, ocelot or a bear. I also didn’t fall off a boat, move off the grid to Montana or whatever other poorly concealed attempt at a follow-up message disguised as hyperbolic humor that you were able to come up with. 

As a proud sales professional, email titles like this don’t just make me cringe, they make me angry. You are insulting your prospects' intelligence when you use cheesy and cheap tactics like this to increase your open rate.

Creativity is undoubtedly an important part of writing a good email, and as Snow and Youshaei point out, personalizing email titles and keeping them short can have a positive impact on your open rates. But subject lines such as “Did a Bear Get You!?” aren’t creative or new, and they weren’t even effective when they were new. 

Preserving the honor of our profession should be enough to stop relying on these cheesy email titles and messages, but it will also improve your response rates. Your prospects are intelligent, and you are not fooling anyone. Cheesy messaging may not just hurt your response rate, it could be earning you a “blocked” or “spam” status.


5. Your Prospecting Email is Confusing

Keep it simple. If your prospect can’t understand why there is value in meeting with you, they will not respond to you. Our eBook on Prospecting Emails offers more details on how to do this.


Prospecting Email Best Practices

Stop relying on mail merges and generic boilerplate messages about you and your company. Do your homework. Learn about your prospects and their company. Then, send a highly personalized, clear and thought-provoking email explaining why it will be valuable to meet with you. You’ll never reach a 100% response rate, but by adopting these approaches, you might come close.  

Want to train your team in other proven prospecting techniques? Check out our comprehensive guide to sales prospecting, based on an analysis of 100,000 sales calls. 

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