Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are listeners: they listen carefully to what their prospects and customers say instead of waiting for their turn to speak."

Tag: salesforce automation

How to write the ideal cold sales email to generate more meetings

How to write the ideal cold sales email to generate more meetings

The good folks over at Cloudura.ai published this post. It was so good that I wanted my readers to read it as well. With their permission, I am reproducing it here.

With over 4 billion email users worldwide, it is no surprise that cold emailing is at its peak right now. On average, a regular email user receives 147 new emails per day. While this is a positive number for reaching out via this medium, you’re in for a lot of competition if you’re a sales rep trying to stand out in the vast sea of emails. 

Unfortunately, while 8 out of 10 prospects prefer talking to salespeople via email over any other medium, only 23.9% of sales emails are opened, with the response rate going even lower. 

So, where are sales executives going wrong, and how can they fix their emails to realize the potential of cold emailing? 

We’ve curated a list of tried-and-tested tricks that will help you create the perfect cold email for a meeting by grabbing your prospect’s attention. 

1. Don’t Ignore the “From” Line 

The ‘from‘ line is usually set up when we configure our email, and that’s it. It hardly ever comes to our mind again to change it in any way. While that might work for everyone else, it’s a huge and unusually common mistake when you’re a salesperson writing a cold sales email. 

On average, an email user deletes 71 messages every day, and all of them under five minutes. This means that most of them are sent to trash even before your prospect opens the email. Apart from the subject line, the ‘from‘ line is the only other thing the user sees when the email is still unopened. As such, it needs to fittingly convey who you are and be consistent with the purpose of your email.

You can change the ‘from‘ line any time, depending on who your current campaign is targeted to and what your message is going to be. There are different combinations of your first name, your last name, your title, and the company’s name that can each affect your prospect differently when used as a ‘from‘ line.

A. First Name + Last Name + Company Name 

While this tells the receiver who exactly the mail is from at first glance itself, it can also seem a little impersonal and might not be enough to convince the individual to open it. 

Rachel Smith – Clodura.AI 

B. First Name + Last Name 

This may be a little too personal, thereby making you lose credibility. If you’re trying to sell the product or service your company offers without having their name attached, your prospect may feel you don’t have the authority to use it and may consider your email spam. 

Rachel Smith 

C. Title + Company Name 

An email with only your job title and the company name in the ‘from‘ line will definitely seem like one of the promotional, automated emails businesses send. Using a specific personal name can increase your open rates by 35%, and yet, a staggering 89% of email marketing campaigns are sent with a company name. These emails do not invoke the recipient to engage with them because they do not feel personal and are likely to be ignored or deleted.  

Account Executive – Clodura.AI

D. First Name + Company Name 

A little personal while still conveying where you’re from – this combination can work with most of your campaigns. 

Rachel from Clodura.AI 

Other Combinations 

  • First Name + Last Name + Title
  • First Name + Title
  • First Name + Title + Company

Do note that these are merely general suggestions on which combinations can be used, depending on the situation. However, in the end, the ‘from’ line you choose should be carefully selected based on your target audience for a particular campaign. Other factors like the context of your message and your end goal also play an essential role in its determination. 

To ensure you choose the correct ‘from‘ line, ask yourself these questions, and use the combination that best fits your answers.

  • Is the combination I’m choosing consistent with the rest of my email? Even though it is often ignored, the “from” line also plays an essential role in swaying your prospect’s opinion. Ensure that your “from” line is consistent with the subject line, the body of the email, the signature, the message, and everything else in your email.
     
  • Would I open this email if I were the prospect? 
    Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes to find out if the “from” line you chose has enough value to compel your prospect to open the email or not.
     
  • Have I carefully scrutinized my prospects to use a combination that they wish to receive? 
    As mentioned above, your “from” line depends on a lot of factors only you are fully aware of. These also include the persona of your prospect and what they expect from you. Ensure that you’re specific in your targeting and do not fall prey to the most popular idea around at the time. Each company and each campaign of that establishment will have a unique set of factors that will affect the message and, consequently, require re-evaluation to determine the ideal ‘from’ line.
     
  • Have I ensured that the “from” line indicates that the person on the other end of the email is someone they want to talk to? 
    Find out who your prospect wants to talk to and include that in your ‘from’ line. For instance, if you believe a campaign to target decision-makers will get better results if they see the Head of the Department (HOD) has contacted them, then create your email campaign and ‘from‘ line around the HOD’s name and title.

2. Create an Eye-Catching Subject Line 

Another element that forms the first impression, the subject line plays a crucial role in driving the prospect to open and read the email. Statistics support this statement — with 35% of recipients opening an email based on the subject line alone and 69% marking an email as spam based solely on the subject line.

While a prospect ignoring your email may make you lose that particular individual, marking it as spam will affect your email deliverability and, consequently, your entire campaign. To that end, it is very important to create subject lines that attract and interest the recipient. Here are some golden tips that can help you stay on track when choosing a subject line. 

A. Put Yourself in Your Prospect’s Shoes 

Ask yourself if your subject line is convincing enough to make the prospect open and read the email or not. Ensure that it responds to their needs and offers a solution to their problem. This way, you will change the subject line from being about your company and your product to their concern and how you can resolve it. 

B. Personalize Your Subject Line to Create a Highly-Targeted Email 

You know their problems, but do you know them? You can make your prospects feel like you see them by forming your subject line in a more personal way. In fact, subject lines with the prospect’s name in them can increase your open rate by over 29% and your click-through rate by over 41%.

For instance, in the image above, the third subject line is an excellent cold sales email example of how to personalize your subject correctly, and the first one is a generic one that you should avoid in your cold email campaigns.

C. Don’t Try to Lure Your Prospect With Click-Bait Strategies 

There are two ways a click-bait subject line can go. Either your prospect will be annoyed by the ‘sales-y’ email and ignore or delete it right away, or they will open the email only to be disappointed because of the misleading subject line and then delete it. So, stay away from trying to bait your prospect with shifty cold email ideas and simply write a subject that offers value instead.

D. Remember That You’re Reaching out to a Human 

Along with personalization, use other tricks so that the recipient knows that you’re human, and you’re treating them as one rather than a paying machine being cajoled by an automated system.  

Did you know that 56% of brands using emojis in their subject lines received a higher open rate than their peers? This implies that playing to the human emotions of your recipient can help you get better results. Moreover, only 2% of businesses use emoticons in their subject lines, ensuring that yours will stand out and be re-callable if you add emojis to it.

Have a look at this fun video by HubSpot to get a better idea of how to use emojis in subject lines.

E. Use Succinct Subject Lines 

Short subject lines with about 41 characters or around seven words tend to garner the most opens. Most subject lines are about ten characters more than this ideal one. You also have to take note of how your prospects are reading your emails. If it is on a mobile device, its interface will likely allow only about 30 characters of the subject line before the rest is cut off.

Source

3. Use the Introduction Smartly 

Okay, so if your prospects have reached the introduction stage through your “from” line and subject line, then you already have a pretty good understanding of them. Now, you have all of 5 seconds to make an impression after they have opened the email. Your opening line is crucial here.  

Instead of directly starting with your and your company’s introduction, write something meaningful for the recipient. Remember, it’s still better to keep it short, but you also want to establish a connection with your prospect that can get them to read the entire mail. You have to use these opening lines to show your prospect that you’ve done your research on them and are deliberately sending this mail to them. You have to make them feel special. 

Here is how you can do that.

A. Talk About Them 

Refer to their work that you’ve come across. It could be a blog, a tweet, a website, anything that has been personally created by them. Show your appreciation for their expertise. 

Here are some examples of how you can start your email. 

  • I loved your blog on….
  • I got your email through [Mutual Contact]…
  • I saw that both of us have [include personal connection]…
  • Congratulations on….
  • I heard that you’re in need of…

B. Talk About Their Company and Their Problem 

Next, ask them questions about the concern that your product is directly related to. For instance, “Do you know why [their company’s name] is not able to hire talent?” 

Remember that while the idea is to create a personal connection with your prospect by using mutual contacts or even flattery, do not overdo it by making this part of the introduction long. Also, stay away from including parts about their personal life lest you seem like a stalker. 

Immediately after these two sentences, add a transitional line and move towards your offer. 

4. Pitch Your Product 

Finally, it’s time to introduce your product or service. As a sales rep, you’ve already done it lots of time. You probably don’t even have to think about the features and the benefits of your product before talking about them anymore.

While that sales pitch might work in a face-to-face or even a phone conversation, emails are a whole different ballpark. Here, the prospect is not obliged to listen to or read your sales pitch. As soon as they realize that the mail is only about you selling your product, it’s a click on the trashcan. 

With cold emails, you have to present your product in such a way that the prospect finds value in it. If your pitch strays away from making the recipient the center of attention, you’ll simply become another salesperson whose business they don’t have to care about. 

You’ve already highlighted their issues in the introduction. Now, you need to seamlessly connect your product to their problems so that they can see the clear trajectory of your product being the solution.

Here is what the body should include.

  • The reason why you reached out to them personally and not anyone else – The idea is to make them feel special and valued.
  • The product that you’re offering. However, instead of including all the features of your product, add the specific benefits that they will enjoy.
  • How a business relationship with you can benefit them.
  • The testimonials or use cases of your previous clients to show how others have benefited through a business relationship with you.

Ensure that you avoid the salesperson tone at all costs and stick to proposing the value of your product to your prospect where they need you rather than the other way around. 

5. Invoke Action With the CTA 

Alright, you’re almost done now. All that is left is to put forward what you want your prospect to do. Do you want them to have a Skype call with you or a phone meeting or a physical meeting somewhere? Whatever it is you want them to do with your cold email ultimately, write it down in a short, simple, and straightforward manner.

6. Tie It All With the Perfect Signature 

Like the “from” line, the signature is also often ignored. As a part of your email, it deserves as much attention as the other elements. After all, it gives your prospect a way to know more about you and get easy access to your contact information. Here are the golden rules of email signatures. 

  • Include your phone number, email address, link to a social media profile of your choice, and link to the company website. You can choose to add or remove other points depending on your target audience and how they generally connect with you.
  • Do not add quotes and images to it. It’s not clean and takes the focus away from your real offering. Images are also easy to get automatically blocked by the email carrier, and it’s best to avoid any delivery issues.
  • If your signature is made up of messy HTML, it can be classified as spam and, again, decrease your deliverability rate.
  • Keep it minimalistic with not more than two font colors, a single font type, and no or only one icon. The more you add to it, the more cluttered it will look.
  • Include enough information to make yourself look trustworthy. If the information is too little, the prospect might think you’re not credible.
  • Aim for consistency among your organization so that you and your colleagues use the same template, font, etc. for your signature.

And send! 

What happens now?

Well, you wait for your prospect to respond. And if they don’t respond, you send them another mail to follow-up. 

7. Why Do You Need Follow-Up Emails? 

On average, about 80% of prospects don’t respond to the first 3 cold emails. Despite this, the average salesperson only makes two email attempts before giving up. In an ideal world, your prospects would understand the need for your product at first go and be ready to invest in it. But the world of cold emailing is no utopia. Professionals are busy and not willing to pay attention to a product they haven’t realized the value of yet. So, be prepared for your mail to be ignored the first time even if it is perfect. 

Source

Follow-up emails work as gentle reminders that there is something like your product in the market and that you’re still available if the prospect wishes to buy it.

Here is how you can write a follow-up email to increase the chances of a response. 

A. Take Care of the Subject Line 

Similar to our first email, the subject line of the follow-up email is essential too. Ensure that it is short, attractive, and shows the value of the email. 

  • Following up on My Email
  • Re: Introduction Call

B. Make the Introduction Contextual 

With the number of emails we receive every day, it is easy for your prospect to forget who you are or what you are talking about. To avoid that, always start by providing them with the context they need. 

  • Thank you for the meeting yesterday….
  • It was nice meeting you at the conference last Saturday
  • I’m following-up on the email I sent a few days ago….

C. Be Clear About What You Want 

Now that you’ve established where they know you from, you need to come to what the purpose of the current email is. What exactly do you want from them?

  • Are you available for a call next Wednesday / Thursday at 3 or 4 PM?
  • Can we schedule a meeting this week on Tuesday at 3 or 4 PM?
  • I would like to invite you to [the event] we’re hosting…

D. Hit Send! 

Different kinds of follow-up emails have different time-frames that they can be sent in. Of course, you’re the best judge of when you want to send which sort of email to your prospect. However, if you’re specifically looking for when to send a follow-up on a meeting request, it is best to do so within 1-2 months after the first email is sent.  

To know more about how you can carry an effective email campaign, check this blog out.

How Can You Take Your Cold Email Campaign a Notch Higher? 

Okay, so you have everything in order now. With a carefully crafted “from” line, subject line, introduction, body, CTA, and the signature, you can now kickstart your email campaign to generate more meetings. You can also follow-up with more emails to get the result you desire by taking care of their subject line, context, and purpose.  

While you have the information to rope in any prospect now, manually doing so with every lead may prove to be inefficient. To increase your sales velocity Clodura’s killer email sequence features helps to generate more interactions and book more meetings, with the right message at the right time for sales prospecting. 

Header Photo by ribkhan (Pixabay)
Make your sales force automation project increase productivity

Make your sales force automation project increase productivity

Yesterday, I explained that your sales force automation project was probably not increasing the productivity of your sales force. Today, let’s discuss ways to improve your project so that your SFA system is not an albatross around the neck of your salespeople.

Obviously, we are not going to go back to the age of administrative assistants for each group of salespeople. Also, there are some things that SFA systems excel at such as capturing contacts at accounts, running analytics on opportunity information, documenting opportunities, assisting in communication in group-selling scenarios and much more.

I challenge you to question every added field in your account, contact, and opportunity screens. If the empty field is there, then it is demanding an answer which takes time to fill out and it is affecting the productivity of your salespeople. Is the time to find the answer to a question important enough to skip a sales call? That is the question that you must answer: is the answer so crucial that a salesperson with a “billable rate” of $1,000 per hour is inputting the answer? Worse yet, is the answer so important that it would be okay for a salesperson to skip a sales call to find the information? If “no” is the answer to either question, then delete the field.

We can all probably agree that one of the benefits of salesforce automation is the production of reports and analytics about your customers and their opportunities. I suggest that you run a report looking for empty fields. If there are blank fields across your 40% of your data set, your salespeople are telling you that the information is affecting their productivity and is a waste of time in their opinion. They have said that they don’t think it is valuable for them to find that answer and are making sales calls rather than find the information.

Assume that you have 100 salespeople each with a $2 million quota. Assume each salesperson is tracking 50 opportunities in a year. If that empty field that needs more research takes 5 minutes per opportunity, then it costs that salesperson 250 minutes for that information. That is over 4 hours of time which means it is “costing” the company $4,000 to find that information over the course of the year – for each salesperson. If you extend that math across your entire sales force, that field costs you $4,000,000 in lost productivity. Is that information worth $4M to you?

Obviously, your company will not be $4M more profitable for each mandatory field that you cut in your sales force automation system. Many factors affect a salesperson’s productivity, and one of the keys to success in sales is to overcome time drags. Usually, we do this by:

  • Driving a bit faster between appointments.
  • Getting to work a bit earlier.
  • Working late into the evening.
  • Sometimes, we overcome these time-drags by skipping an event with the kids though.
  • Maybe we don’t help out with homework as much.

You probably get the picture; when you start to ask your employees for information that isn’t critical, you begin to create an environment where they may not be as happy to be your employee.

How to move forward

The first thing to do is to make sure you are truly getting value out of every piece of data that every rep is typing into your sales force automation system. Once you think you are attaining value from that information, use it to help them drive more revenue. If you show your salespeople that the information is helping them not just helping you, the manager, then they will be more willing to be on the program.

If you have fields that are regularly blank, challenge the team that says they need the information to justify the cost of filling out the information. Perform the math that I showed above and ask them if they are getting $4M per year (or whatever your specific calculation) of value from that information. If they cannot justify the cost, cut the field.

The great thing about cutting fields is that a few cuts make a huge difference. If you currently have 100 fields to be filled out regarding an account or an opportunity and you cut it by 10%, you will find that the remaining fields are far more likely to get attention. You have helped your salespeople, and they will reward you by more eagerly participating in the process.

Salesforce automation should help to automate the sales force and increase productivity. It shouldn’t be a burden on the sales force. Your goal is to help them be more efficient not to teach them to type better. Make a point to not waste the time of your salespeople by using every piece of information that they provide and show that the usefulness of that information makes your company a better company.

Photo by tec_estromberg

Sales force automation should not punish salespeople

Sales force automation should not punish salespeople

Nearly every sales force of size has implemented a tool (or tools) that are designed to “automate” the sales force. Unfortunately, the implementation of these tools rarely automates anything. In fact, it regularly slows down the people that it is supposed to help.

Let’s do some simple math. Assume the average salesperson at your company has an annual quota of 2 million dollars ($2M) divided evenly to $500K per quarter. There are approximately 2,000 hours in a standard working year (yes, I understand that exceptional salespeople will regularly work more than 40 hours per week). This means that each hour of the year has a quota of $1,000. Each standard working day has a quota of $8,000.

Let’s put this a better way. The billable rate of each of your salespeople is $1,000 per hour! Think about this; this is far more than the billable rate for any consultant that you sell or more than any consultant that you have hired to help you run the company. Kimble recently did a study of consulting billing rates, and the average rates were all less than 1/4 of the rate you need from your salespeople!

It is obvious that your company would want to automate that very valuable resource.

When a salesperson thinks of automation though, he or she think of reducing the time on the more mundane time hogs to maximize the time in front of customers. When a manager thinks of automation, he or she thinks of how to extract even more information from their sales force. These two goals are inherently at conflict since managers want more and more information while salespeople want to do less drudgery work.

This lack of alignment in goals means that at least one group is going to be frustrated with the implementation of a sales force automation system. Unfortunately, if the salesperson is frustrated then it is likely that the “automation’ project will never be truly successful. Instead, there will be constant threats from management to keep the system up-to-date and failure to do so will result in fines, loss of some benefits, and maybe even firings.

Whenever I hear of a company that is “nagging” salespeople to update the system, I know that they have done a poor job in making sure that everyone is on board with the sales force automation project. They have implemented a system that is win/loss rather than a win/win.

When my father was a salesperson, he did very little internal book work. When he needed a TELEX sent, he scribbled it on a piece of paper and handed it to his team secretary. When he needed a letter sent to a customer, he scribbled the note, and it was typed up by the secretary or his secretary came in for dictation. In either case, he didn’t worry about formatting or letter structure as that was the job of his secretary. He would hand business cards to his secretary, and she would insert them in order in a notebook that he carried in his car. If the customer didn’t have a business card (rare for him in those days), she would create a note card of the same size with the information. His expense reports were easy: he handed receipts to his secretary along with a handwritten log of his mileage, and she did the rest. He had the ultimate in “automation” as he just delegated all work except for making sales calls.

When I was a young man and beginning my career in sales, we also did not have gadgets to make us more productive. I carried a tape recorder with me. I would dictate my call notes to the team of secretaries in my office. Those notes were returned to me as well as copied for my manager so that he knew what was going on. My correspondence was simple as well since I dictated those while driving down the road and handed the cassette to the secretarial pool. If a piece of literature was required, I noted it in the dictation, and a secretary pulled it out of the library. Expenses were a little more difficult than my father since I had to fill out a form and sign it. I still spent more time selling than I ever did doing bookwork.

Then came the advent of automation and personal computers. We now need to hunt and find our literature. If you don’t know how to type a well-crafted email or letter, you are at a significant disadvantage. The slower you type, the worse your productivity. We type call logs into the sales force automation system which cannot be safely done while driving to the next appointment, but rather require that you be camped out in the office or a Starbucks.

All of this means that productivity for salespeople has been severely reduced in this age of computer productivity. The gauge of most workers in the internet age is the speed that they can answer emails or create documents. For salespeople, productivity is measured by the number of sales calls we make and size of our revenue. If your sales force automation system is reducing the amount of time your sales force is spending in front of a customer than it is NOT an automation system!

Tomorrow, I will finish this thought by trying to explain techniques to help you make your sales force automation project actually automate your sales force. Check it out!

Photo by hiyori13