Posted by Meghan Skiff


If I tell you there is a brand new sales prospecting email in your inbox, ready for your review and response, how will you react? My guess is that you aren't going to be clicking your heels and exclaiming "woohoo" as you rush to check your email. Most likely, it's an eye roll, followed by a groan. Am I right?

When it comes to sales prospecting emails, we all get them - and most of them are deleted. This means that the exercise of writing and sending the email by the sales rep was not effective. It's not because writing an email to a prospective client is an ineffective sales strategy. It is because most of these emails are written poorly from a sales perspective. So, when we go to send these emails as sales professionals ourselves, we have to be sure not to make the same mistakes.

It's important to note that these common mistakes in writing sales prospecting emails are made by both startups and large companies alike. Just this morning, I received an email from a Fortune 500 company that is a prime example of a prospecting email gone wrong. Here's what I learned:

4 Things Not to Do When Sending an Email to Prospective Client

#1: Misleading Subject Line

In the email that I received this morning, the subject line was "Marketing Question." The body of the email did not contain one actual marketing question, leaving me frustrated. While it might be tempting to use a subject line that makes it more likely for the recipient to open the email, it doesn't pay. When you use a subject line that does not honestly reflect the body content of the email, you are establishing a relationship with the prospect based on distrust. People buy from people they trust 90% of the time. This is the email version of getting off on the wrong foot!

#2: Scolding the Prospect on Unresponsiveness

If the prospect hasn't responded to a past attempt to reach out, it is because either or both:

  1. You failed to communicate the value of your product or service.
  2. They aren't interested/it isn't a good time.

If you have reached out in the past and your prospect has not responded, don't mention it! In the email that I received this morning, the opening sentence of the email was devoted to telling me that the rep had tried to reach out several times and that I had failed to respond. As a sales professional, it is not your prospects' responsibility to respond to you just because you sent an email, it is your responsibility to give them a good reason to want to learn more.

#3: Focusing on your solution, rather than the prospect's needs

Despite countless blogs and marketing/sales conversations online and in the industry, sales and marketing professionals continue to makethis rookie mistake. In the email example that I've been referencing throughout this post, the sales rep shifted from scolding me on my lack of response to his prior emails to four sentences of meaningless jargon about what his company's solution provides. After reading it, I still had no clue:

1) What his solution actually does (outside of something in the digital marketing space)

2) Why I need it/how it would help me

If you are writing an email to a prospective client, you should focus on them. What are their needs? How can you help them? That's what should be communicated in your email.

#4: A Low-Substance Call-To-Action

This morning's email promised a "5-minute call" to see if the solution "aligns with my organization." Ok, we all know that meeting isn't going to be only 5 minutes right? The funny thing is this: despite the fact that the sales rep is claiming only to take up 5 minutes of my time, wouldn't it be better if he convinced me that his solution and the conversation with him is worth more of my time? In my experience, a prospect doesn't mind spending the time with a sales rep, if it is valuable to them. It's not about the amount of time as much as it is about the value of spending that time. Therefore, your call-t0-action needs to demonstrate tangible value to the prospect.

Tell me about your biggest prospecting success or mistakes that you've seen in prospecting emails in the comments below.

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