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7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win

Posted on Mar 16th, 2016
Written by TopRank Marketing
In this article

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    Like you, my email inbox is filled with email marketing newsletters, requests for information, spammy emails that managed to make it through my filter and the urgent things I actually need to respond to. Each day as I watch the number of unread emails grow, it takes more and more convincing for me to open the emails that do not come from people I know.

    In my role as the Director of Agency marketing for TopRank Marketing, I receive a steady influx of emails each day from sales reps at various companies trying to meet with me about how their solution will make me more effective at my job. Nine times out of ten, I have had no previous contact with these reps, nor have I signed up to receive emails from them.

    As marketers we know that a good email marketing campaign will provide value to our audience and build credibility. So, why should sales emails be any different? If the average buyer gets over 100+ emails per day, opens 23% of them and clicks on just 2%, what can you do to make sure your emails don’t fall into the 77% of emails that end up in the inbox graveyard?

    Examples of Bad Sales Emails I Have Actually Received

    I’ve selected a few of the more mild yet still ineffective sales emails that I have received recently. The names and companies have been removed to provide anonymity. 

    Email #1

    Subject: quick question

    Dear Ashley,

    We have invented a technology that targets the WiFi in a household, on a 1:1 basis with 95% accuracy. This is possible because we have mapped the IP addresses of over 160 million households, most of the major colleges throughout the USA, hotels, airports, and more.

    We are the only company in the world that has this technology. Would you have 15 minutes to chat?

    Looking forward to hearing back!



    Email #2

    Subject: Quick Question 

    Hey Ashley,

    Have you considered building your team?

    I’d like to share a quick idea with you that has helped our client with customer retention and acquisition.

    Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call so I can share the ideas with you. When works best for you?

    All the best,
    Phone Number
    Physical Address

    Email #2 Part 2

    Subject: RE: Quick Question

    Hey Ashley – I sent an email to you three days ago. I was wondering if you put any thoughts into growing your team?

    Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call. What day works for you?

    All the best,
    Phone Number
    Physical Address


    Email #3

    Subject: a few ways

    Ashley – I have a few ways you can improve your growth strategy and operations over the next few months, while gaining better insight into your business.

    Interested in a quick 5 minute chat later this week?

    P.S.: I promise it’ll be more effective than your current strategy.

    Physical Address


    The list could go on and on and on. While these aren’t the worst type of emails you could send or receive, they aren’t impactful and don’t garner a response. What is fundamentally wrong with these emails?

    7 Ways Sales Emails Fail

    #1 – They Are All Cold Emails
    No effort was made to connect with via social networks or other means before sending out a cold email trying to convince the reciptient to give them money.

    #2 – There Is No Personalization
    These emails could have been sent to anyone. A little research about your prospects can go a long way.

    #3 – There Is No Empathy For Pain Points
    If someone is on an email list, they should have had access to the company website as well as the title of the person they are reaching out to. With this information, it should be fairly easy and quick to uncover what some of the challenges someone in that role experiences, or what it is that they actually do.

    #4 – Some Are Borderline Insulting
    Promising to deliver a better strategy than what is currently being executed current insults what it is that a prospect does as a professional. Plus that’s a very bold statement when you have no insight into the performance of the current solution.

    #5 – There Is No Way to Find out More About the Company
    In order to test the legitimacy of some of these emails, it would have been nice if they would have included a hyperlinked URL to their company website in their signature or somewhere else in the email. None of them did.

    #6 – There is No Value Being Offered
    Not one of these emails offered up a case study or any validation that they could truly help in some way, or an example of how they had helped other companies in a similar situation.

    #7 – Harassing Prospects Doesn’t Work
    Telling your prospect that you’ve sent them numerous emails before is not a good way to elicit a response. The prospect doesn’t owe you anything.

    7 Ways to Win

    #1 – Network & Connect With Prospects FIRST
    Before reaching out cold, make an effort to network to prospects by seeing if you know someone in common on LinkedIn or have similar interests. You can also begin following them on social networks like Twitter. This can create an opportunity for recognition when you do reach out via email and provide you with insight into what types of content they share and care about.

    #2 – Personalize Your Approach
    By putting in a few minutes of research before reaching out, you can quickly identify ways to personalize your email communication. It could be a matter of reading articles they’ve published, finding out where their company is located and making mention of it in your email, the opportunities for slight personalization to have an impact are vast.

    #3- Show That You Understand Their Pain Points
    You may not have met your prospect personally but with a little legwork you can determine that person xyz that works at this size of company and has this job title will likely experience these pain points. Use a portion of your email communication to show how your company/solution/services can help make life easier for them.

    Keep in mind that if you’re emailing the marketing manager, director of marketing or CMO at a company, there will be different pain points or approaches that you need to take in order to sync with their specific needs.

    #4 – Compliment & Flatter Your Prospects
    We all like someone to take notice of the work that we’ve done. If a person trying to connect with a prospect makes mention of something created by the person they are reaching out to, it is likely that they will be much more open to what is being said.

    #5 – Ask for Permission, Don’t Assume
    When you use language that indicates you’re confident that the prospect will respond or participate in your ask, it can be a major turn-off. Instead, ask if they are interested in learning more or connecting. It is less invasive and allows the prospect to feel like they are in control instead of being manipulated.

    #6 – Offer Proof of Concept
    If you’re going to make bold statements in your outreach email, you had better be able to back it up with data. Linking to examples of your work or case studies within the email are an incredibly effective way of showing proof of success and how you have helped other people like them solve similar problems.

    #7 – Make it Easy for Prospects to Research You
    The simple inclusion of a link to the company website, blog or social links can make it easy for prospects to determine the legitimacy of a company sending them a communication. Since we know today’s buyers are self-directed, it will also give them an opportunity to dive in and learn more about your offering  on their own.

    Start Creating More Meaningful Communications Today!

    There is a clear opportunity for sales and marketing teams to collaborate and follow email marketing best practices as it relates to sales emails. The convergence of these two teams can help companies create a better and more cohesive experience for all prospects, no matter where interactions are happening. 

    Are you guilty of sending sales emails that fail? What do you think you can do to create more effective emails that provide a better experience for your sales prospects?

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