8 ways to increase your chances of converting a contact into a sale
Chris Whife 2nd August 2016
Sales is a tough game – half art and half science – and selling via email can be even tougher. Most people are already signed up to a dozen email newsletters and receive notifications from a half a dozen online services. This makes email an extremely noisy acquisition channel.
To stand out you need to be excellent in every way. Here are 8 ways to improve your chances of succeeding:
1. Tailor your email body to your recipient
You’ve gone to the trouble of tracking down the ten or twelve most promising leads in the industry. Go the extra mile and write an individualised email for each of them. This is a lot more effort than changing the recipient name at the top of a standard sales email and find-and-replacing the company name, but it will make all the difference.
The whole point of one to one marketing is to be personal and tailored. Any successful executive is both busy and good at filtering out noise. Unless you have something specific and actionable to say about their specific business, your email will be in the trash mere seconds after being received.
2. Spend more time on your subject
Now that you have tailor-written your introductory email, take ten minutes to tailor the subject line to both the person and their business problem. Most busy people make a decision about whether to even read an email based entirely on the subject line.
You need to take the goldilocks approach to your subject line: not too long, and not too short. Studies have shown that the ideal length of an email subject line is 9 to 14 words (around 40 to 50 characters).
Resist the urge to squeeze your whole pitch into the subject. If possible address your contact directly, but beware of sounding robotic or forced.
Try to avoid this: “John Smith, we are the market leaders in widgets and we can lower your input costs by as much as 50% as well as giving you personal 24/7 phone support”
Instead go for something more like: “John, we could lower the input costs for X product significantly.”
3. Have someone check your spelling and grammar!
It’s such a small thing, but one typo can cost you an entire lead. You’re asking a stranger to take you seriously and engage with you on their livelihood. Spelling or grammatical errors make you look sloppy, and no one wants a sloppy business partner.
4. Send your email at the best possible time
Most executives set aside regular slots each day to clear their inboxes. Sending an email late in the afternoon or early in the morning makes it more likely that your carefully crafted message will be at the bottom of a big pile of other emails.
Ideal times to send emails are mid-morning and mid-afternoon. These are times when executives are least likely to be in meetings and most likely to be clearing their inboxes. This isn’t an exact science but 9AM and lunchtime meetings are far more common than 11AM meetings.
Also, if your contact is in a different timezone from you, adjust your sending time accordingly.
5. Invest in a tracking service
There are multiple online tools available that can tell you, with some degree of certainty, whether your contact has read your email or not. These have been used by mass email senders for more than a decade, but many people don’t do so with smaller batches of emails.
This is incredibly valuable information because it allows you to tailor your follow up emails depending in whether your original message has been read and received.
6. Drop that image-heavy email signature
Too many companies clutter their email systems with bulky signatures. These can look attractive in ideal circumstances, but all too often they are mangled by corporate mail clients and end up as half a dozen attachments. These can trigger spam filters which block your email entirely.
Keep your signature simple and make sure your contact details are in text and not embedded in an image. There’s nothing more irritating than trying to touch a phone number in an email on your phone and finding it’s an image.
7. Follow up (subtly and respectfully)
If you know an executive has read your email, tailor a follow up that speaks directly to that knowledge. But wait an appropriate amount of time before sending it, and resist the urge to hound someone. There’s no surer way to get yourself blacklisted than to pester someone with daily emails.
8. Do what you say, and say what you do
If you make a promise in an email, however small, always follow through. So many leads are lost because the salesperson forgot to send out the product catalogue at the time they said they would do so. Even if the promise is “I won’t email you again after this” stick to that promise.
These tips won’t guarantee you sales, but they will certainly help you get a foot in the door. Email marketing, like anything in sales, is about diligence, persistence and professionalism. Good luck out there.