Category: Sales strategy advice

17 Tips On Cold Emails – Don’t Make These Mistakes!

17 Tips On Cold Emails – Don’t Make These Mistakes!

It used to be fashionable to make phone calls to unsuspecting people at companies to try and create interest in your product. With the advent of caller ID, voicemail, and smartphones, the practice of cold phone calls has seen a severe drop in productivity. It is still possible to find a lead this way, but due to the low hit rate, it is better to delegate this activity to junior employees that are not carrying a multi-million dollar quota.

In my book “Eliminate Your Competition” I suggest that salespeople send a series of emails to potential prospects in a targeted campaign before trying to make a phone call. I call this the 6-3-1 Program. It won’t guarantee you success, but it has proven to be far more effective than just blindly dialing for dollars.

I understand that your manager may disagree with this campaign. Most managers earned their stripes “back in the good old days” when people answered their phones. Some managers are as old as me and remember actually walking into the front door of a business, asking for a person with a particular title, and being reasonably confident that the person would come out and talk to you for a few minutes.

Let’s be perfectly honest; the world has changed. In those olden days:

  • Telephones had numbers that went in a circle.
  • Telephones were physically attached to a wall by a wire.
  • You had to pay extra to make a “long distance” phone call.
  • Correspondence was written on ground-up trees.
  • Front seats of cars may or may not have had seat belts.

If you are still prospecting with the same techniques as when any of the above was true, then you need to re-think your strategy. It is the 21st century and Ford, Carter, and Reagan are no longer President.

The most effective way to prospect is to include some email correspondence. Unfortunately, email has its challenges. First, an email address is very similar to a phone number – it is wrong then you won’t reach your intended recipient. In the past, I have spoken about Hunter, and it is a great way to start to find email addresses that actually connect to people.

The next challenge with email is that your prospect probably gets A LOT OF EMAILS. You need to make it past the spam filter of the company, the prospect’s spam filter, and the prospect’s “this is junk” rapid deletion techniques. Hopefully, the rest of this article will make that easier.

The number one rule is to send email to your prospects like you were sending email to your old college buddy or your mom. The more fancy and highly formatted your email is, the more likely it looks like spam and less like honest correspondence with your friends.

To determine if a message is spam, most spam filters check for appropriate email authentication and your sending IP reputation. To avoid having your emails considered spam, use email authentication and protect your sending reputation.

Email Authentication

If you use a service for sending your emails, make sure it has good and appropriate safeguards. Email authentication helps ISPs determine whether an email is coming from a legitimate source. Setting up your email authentication is crucial for good deliverability. The two most common authentication standards are SPF and DKIM. Every major ISP and most major spam filter providers check for one or both of these standards when determining what to do with an email.

Sending IP Reputation
Your sending IP reputation is based on many factors, including:

  • Bounce rates
  • Blacklistings
  • Spam complaints

Be careful sending from Salesforce.com.  I have heard that spam filters can easily be configured to block Salesforce.com. I say this because of the domain name of the sending servers, i.e., salesforce.com, and the domain of your ‘from’ will not be the same, in both cases. If a client has strict email rules which verify the sending services with the From address, it may mark it as higher on the spam list.

The 17 “Don’t” list

  1. Don’t use embedded URLs. Embedded URLs are a red flag.  Friends send URLs that look like www.confident-investor.com/watchlist, and they don’t send URLs that look like Watch List where the text is HTML, and the link is part of the text.
  2. Don’t use email tracking. Do you really need tracking turned on? How is that going to make you more money or build your credibility with your prospect?  Emails from friends do not have tracking, so if you turn on tracking the spam filter robots will detect this and your spam scale will increase.
  3. Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line.
  4. Don’t use video, Flash, or javascript within your email. Friends don’t do this; they only do URLs.
  5. Don’t embed forms in your emails. Friends don’t do this. Include a URL to your site instead.
  6. Don’t use spam trigger words like “free,” “guarantee,” and “no obligation” in your subject line or email body. A good rule of thumb is, if it sounds like something a used car salesperson would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Here is an excellent listing of words to avoid.
  7. Don’t use a red font when drafting your email (in fact, don’t use any special color).
  8. Don’t use a light-colored font on top of a dark background. Remember, your best friend from college wouldn’t do that to coordinate lunch next week so neither should you.
  9. Don’t use excessive exclamation points!!!!!
  10. Don’t forget to use spell check. Misspellings are yet another spam indicator in your email copy. Someday the spammers from other countries will understand how to spell and the grammatical techniques of the US, but until that time make sure your content is correct as it is a great differentiator.
  11. Don’t play games with subject lines. Subject lines that spark curiosity get emails opened, but that’s just half the story. Subject lines that misrepresent emails irritate prospects and drive them to flag you as spam. For example, some sales reps add “Re:” or “FW:” to guise their cold emails as conversations and pique their prospect’s interest. In reality, this is misleading. Moreover, why would a prospect trust you if your first touch with them is deceptive?
  12. Don’t use “hash-busting” to get past the spam filters. Hash-busting is using special characters designed to break up words or phrases (e.g. “Fr3e W!nn@r”). It might work, but it probably encourages your prospect to immediately hit Delete (or worse, manually flag it as spam).
  13. Don’t use URL shorteners. Remember your mother doesn’t use a URL shortener. Only marketers, salespeople, and spammers use shorteners in an email. Aside from being too “salesy”, it is too easy to embed an inappropriate site into a URL shortener, so many people will not click on a shortened URL. It really isn’t worth the trouble – who cares if a URL is long.
  14. Don’t use sloppy HTML code. Using Microsoft Word to design in HTML can add extra formatting to the code, which raises your spam score (and also makes your emails look terrible). If you do create in Word, you should copy/paste as text.
  15. Don’t use too many images and not enough text. Don’t embed text inside of images, or send emails that are all-image, no text. Once again, would your best friend do this when asking you to the game next week weekend? In fact, don’t put images into your email.  I know your marketing department wants you to put a logo into your email or maybe an ad for your next user group. Resist this urge and tell your marketing department to read this article. Your job is to have your email read by your prospect and it won’t get read if it is in their Junk folder.
  16. Don’t use the dollar symbol in the subject line and rarely in the text. Avoid the dollar symbol like the plague, as well as the exclamation point if you can help it. These are huge red flags for spam filters.
  17. Don’t flood your prospect’s server. Corporate server-based spam filters might mark your email as spam if multiple emails to the same company with the same subject line delivered seconds apart. I suggest you modify each subject line slightly if you are doing cold emails.

Cold emails can increase your chances of finding a qualified prospect. However, like all other tools, you need to know how to be effective at using email. My 6-3-1 program in my book “Eliminate Your Competition” is an excellent way to find more people that you can help. It combines email marketing, with phone calls and with educational newsletters. You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

 

Photo by Infrogmation

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

More than your understanding of your customer’s needs and goals, your top priority in sales is to have your prospect trust you. In fact, your prospect needs to do more than just trust you personally – your prospect needs to trust you, your company, and your product.

It is possible that generating trust is the most important thing that you need to deliver. Let’s face it; you already believe that the combination of you, your company, and your product is a superior offering to your competitor, your competitor’s company, and your competitor’s product. You need to convince your prospect that they should trust your opinion that your trifecta of the three is superior to all of your competitors.

This is not easy. You may have to go to great lengths to engender that trust. You may have to prove the financial stability of your company. You may need to prove that your company has excellent support. You may have to prove the applicability of your product to your prospect’s needs. There is almost no end to the number of things you may have to prove to your prospect.

What you definitely do not want to spend too much time on is that you are a trustworthy person.

It is easy to undermine that you provide value. Proving that you are not a liar is not easy. For you to show that you are not a jerk can seem easy, but in reality is difficult to do. It only takes one slip up to destroy your credibility. All you have to do is:

  • Tell one lie.
  • Offer one misleading truth.
  • Exaggerate just once.
  • Make one inappropriate comment.
  • Look unkept and disheveled once.
  • Miss one commitment.

That is all it takes. One slip up and you could be relegated entirely to untrustworthiness. It is simple. It is easy. You screwed up, and now you depend on your product and your company to beat out your competitor’s trifecta of his company, product, and salesperson. This reputational damage is a huge disadvantage. Your inability to engender trust in yourself puts your entire sales effort at risk.

Being a salesperson is extremely difficult, and this is one one of the biggest reasons for failure. You blew it. You proved that you were not trustworthy. Sure you can blame your company, your product, or your prospect, but in reality, it is your fault. You were not on your best behavior at all times. You may not even have noticed that the prospect stopped trusting you. Most of our prospects are just too polite to tell you that they question your trustworthiness.

How do you fix this problem? Simple. DON’T!!!!! Don’t put yourself in the position of not being trustworthy. Don’t allow the prospect to think that you are not fantastic.

  • Don’t ever lie.
  • Don’t ever tell a misleading truth.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t ever make an inappropriate comment.
  • Don’t look disheveled.
  • Don’t break a commitment.

You should ALWAYS be on your best behavior. Don’t screw up. Yes, this is hard, but it is the easiest way to fail as a salesperson. Destroying your reputation with the prospect is the easiest way for you to eliminate yourself from consideration and not to eliminate your competition.

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