How to write emails that your prospects will actually respond to
One of the highest leverage points in your go-to-market model is your ability to connect with your prospects. Simple top of funnel math tells you that more connects —> more conversations —> more opportunities. But the way most companies go about optimizing it is totally wrong. Here’s why.
Most companies focus on increasing quantity (more accounts, more contacts, more emails, more calls), instead of increasing quality (more targeted, more thoughtful, more engaging).
Focusing on quantity inevitably leads to generic, dreary messaging which fails to engage prospects. I see this in most of the sales teams I consult with, and in 99.99% of the emails I receive as a business owner and former startup COO. Not only is it ineffective, it can actually be damaging if done for too long as you can burn through your entire addressable market.
To illustrate some of the most common results of focusing on quantity over quality, here’s a real world example. Its a prospecting email that landed in my inbox a few weeks ago and is similar of what I see in many of the startups I work with:
The core problem with this email is that it is overwhelmingly seller-centric. It’s like meeting someone for the first time and all they want to do is talk about themselves:
“Are you looking to add IT talent? We are an innovative technology company…” — Setting aside that nothing on my LinkedIn profile suggests that I am in the IT business, this is akin starting off a conversation with “Hi, let me tell you all about me”.
“Our highly experienced engineers represent…” — Why tell me about your product/service without any context of the problem you think I have?
“We currently work with 200+ companies in different industries” — Why tell me how many customers you have instead of what value you are driving for them?
“What types of skills are you looking for? Can we have a call to discuss?” — The first part of this is actually a good question to ask. But why do we need to have a call?
“The content of this email is confidential….it is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message” — Glad to see your lawyers are doing their best to slow you down. Guess I’ll go ahead and delete it then.
Companies end up being seller-centric when they focus on quantity because they force themselves to solve for the lowest common denominator across their prospects, which is to talk about themselves.
By contrast, emails that drive the highest engagement are customer-centric. Instead of the seller talking about themselves, they do the following 3 things:
Demonstrate relevance—by showing they have researched the prospect and have a reason for reaching out. I’m not talking full on cyber-stalking or exhaustive research. A basic google-the-prospect-and-see-what-comes-up approach is usually enough to stand out.
Provide a reward—by sharing some unique insight from their business that is relevant to your prospect. This is an essential component of a high converting prospecting process.
Prompt for engagement—by asking what the prospect thinks of the insight, or how it aligns with what they see in their business. Nobody wants to have a 15 minute phone call when an email exchange can accomplish the same thing.
Here’s the same email re-written in this framework:
As a go-to-market consultant, I’m sure you are acutely aware of the challenges of scaling a consulting business in 2021. With demand for sales and marketing consulting at an all time high, it’s extremely hard to find qualified talent to execute all the work your clients are asking you to do.
Here at Acme, Inc we see a similar trend across our customers: Companies like Booz Allen and Oliver Wyman—with hundreds of open positions—are increasingly turning to 3rd parties like ours to fill high-priority IT roles for martech projects. With our team of skilled contractors working US timezones, we’ve been able to help our customers keep their clients’ projects on schedule and on budget.
I see you have a number of open roles at your firm for Marketo, Salesforce and Demandbase experts. Have you considered using a 3rd party to help?
Pretty clear which version is more likely to get a response :)
If you want feedback on how to make your prospecting emails more engaging and your process higher converting, feel free to send them my way and I’ll take a look.
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Hi Arnie, your post made me lol! I'm amazed how bad so many cold outreach emails can be. Still that's good for the rest of us ;)