Stop trying to close prospects with every email

Yesterday I received yet another prospecting email following a familiar pattern.

Over and over I see this exact same pattern. The biggest mistake I see SDRs make is to constantly try to close for a phone call over email. Here’s what a 5 touch email campaign looks like:

1) Do a little research, name drop clients and results that border on impossible. Ask for a phone call.

2) Tell me all about this client that kinda sorta might be similar to me (not really) who got some absurd 447% ROI in a month and that if I talk to you for 15 minutes I might do the same.

3) Reply all to the first 2 emails with something you think is witty and I think is dumb like, “Did you get my previous email?”

4) Send me a case study, which you’re clearly tracking with your email software, and ask for another meeting.

5) The bus doors are closing, are you on the bus or are only the cool kids getting on?

In my entire career I have never supported my team to take every kitchy spam email tactic, slap them together across a handful of touches, and pray prospects raise their hand to talk to me. Why not?

Sales professionals focus on getting inside the mind of the prospect and figuring out how to help them out.

I feel that reps who use this strategy. have no idea that their prospects have a job to do. A hard job to do. One they clearly don’t understand, don’t care about, and won’t bother learning a thing about, because connecting the dots like that is hard and might not lead to booking another mediocre sales meeting. It feels good in the moment to notch the leaderboard, but who’s going to respond to these kinds of emails?

Prospects who are either looking for a vendor right now and probably want to use you to help them negotiate harder with their preferred choice… and bored people looking for a way to kill time, learn something, and look smart at the right moment because they can regurgitate some value prop from their vague recollection of your demo.

You know where the best prospects are? Researching options like you right now. And when you email them if you send them that crap there’s a reasonable chance they’ll gag over your pitch and move along to someone, anyone, other than you.

The fatal mistake reps make is thinking they’ve done just enough research, found a gold nugget, and truly personalized that first touch.

Unfortunately, most reps read a LinkedIn profile and don’t go beyond there. If you can’t research the company, stay up on some industry news, or pick up the phone to talk to some of the prospect’s colleagues, then why would you think the most public of all information is going to be the gold?

Then you launch the classic trigger, value prop, short client list, and close. That gold nugget isn’t a gold nugget, it’s not your way in, and it’s not going to get you very many meetings.

Let’s think about this from the prospect’s perspective for a moment.

If you’re in a store and someone walks up to you in a store and says, “We’re the biggest and best in our industry! Here are some random names of happy customers! Do you want to talk to me?”

How do you respond?

I know what’s going through my head: get away from me!

That’s your email strategy in a nutshell, except your emails are a little more polished and easier to swallow. If you’re doing this here’s the honest truth: you’re one misstep away from being the world’s most annoying retail salesperson.

Pitching them every time you reach out shows that you really don’t understand them. You don’t understand their needs, values, and priorities. You only understand how to ask them for their time and money.

Top reps have a formula: give value first, then ask, and focus on being the top of mind vendor when the time is right.

You might be wondering what I mean by give value if I’m literally saying don’t give your value prop.

Your value prop isn’t valuable to the prospect, it’s a short and sweet way of telling someone about you. You’re not asking what’s valuable to the prospect. That’s what I mean by give value first.

So how do you give value?

One of my favorite opening emails is to show the prospect that I’ve done research on them, their industry, and understand their likely challenges. Then I tell them I have a few ideas on those specific challenges and ask them if they’d like them.

This email requires considerably more research than looking up a LinkedIn profile. It requires a lot of time spent understanding a day in the life of that prospect.

The key to it, though, isn’t the research. The research merely gives me an opening. What makes this email work so well is that I’m merely asking if they want some ideas or not. It’s asking if they want to opt-in to a deeper conversation.

Those ideas I send? Often they’re spot on. They nail things the prospect would love to do, to solve, to fix, to create. And if the prospect is a good fit, those are things they are having a really hard time doing.

With two emails you not only establish yourself as someone who’s helpful, you’ve discovered whether or not you’re reaching out to a good prospect.

Another way I’ve used email to provide value is to literally take the prospect on a product tour from the perspective of similar customers. Establish the most likely challenges they’re facing and show them a different world. Showcase how things could be, and not only in a perfect scenario.

This is massively different from a value prop or customer testimonials, mind you. Your emails are short, have visuals, and put the spotlight on how your customers are able to overcome their challenges now. Odds are you’re sprinkling in ideas on how your prospects could do the same even if they don’t buy your product.

I know it’s hard to do this, because it means giving up control.

This is where reps have a really hard time. How on earth are you supposed to sell anything if you’re not focused on your value prop and your product?

Think about that for a second.

Do customers buy your product for its value prop… or do they buy a solution to their problem?

And if they’re buying it to solve one of their problems, then what’s the worst way to demonstrate what you have to offer? Offer ideas to help them solve their problems, showcase how customers have solved the problem, or state your value prop?

You ask for the meeting once you’ve established that you’re worth talking to and not a moment sooner.

Here’s the kicker. If timing is bad there’s a reasonable chance there’s nothing you, or any other sales rep, can do to change that. The important question to ask is, if things change down the road, who’s going to be in place to earn that business?

That’s right: the rep who provided value up front, time and time again.


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