E-mailing is now undoubtedly the main means of communication between businesses and business people. I would continue to advise salespeople to always try to speak directly to prospects where possible. There are times however that e-mailing is the only available option, so the ability to craft effective e-mails is now a very necessary sales skill.

It is important to note, that e-mailing remains a limiting form of communication in that:

It may not be read by the prospect.
It may only partially be read by the prospect.
It remains one-way communication unless the prospect decides to e-mail you back.
You cannot see or hear the prospect’s initial reaction to the e-mail.

So the first important consideration for a salesperson is when to use e-mail?

In sales, e-mails work well as a secondary means of communication, for instance to recap on what was said at a sales meeting, or to confirm actions that will take place between conversations.

Remember; even when using e-mails in this way, it is always prudent to first ask the prospect how they would prefer to be contacted. The way and methods that you use to communicate with an individual prospect should very much depend on the person.

E-mails work much less well as a primary means of communication, and it is here that the majority of salespeople struggle with e-mails. E-mails should only be used as a primary means of communication, where traditional means are impossible or will take too long.

While the following tips are intended to help with creating e-mails as primary communications/introductions, 1 and 3 will also work well with e-mails used as a secondary communication.

1. Subject Line/Title is critically important.

The subject line is of critical importance as to whether or not the recipient decides to open the e-mail. Marketing type e-mails that make claims and promises rarely get opened. The key points here are to create a title that stands out from the crowd and is personal, so knowing and putting the prospect’s name in the title will help in this regard. Telling the prospect why you are e-mailing is also important, so the title might read something like this:

Example

“Hi John - Denise Smith, your Marketing Manager, asked that I Speak to You Directly”

It also a good idea to at least customise the first paragraph of the e-mail as many prospects may only read the first few lines.

2. Keep the Text Short, Simple and to the Point.

Introductory e-mails are just that, an introduction so don’t go in to great detail about your products. The objective here is to create the opportunity where you can speak to the prospect in more detail.

Example

“Hi John,

My name is Niall Devitt, I’m a sales training consultant with Btb Training.

Btb Training provides highly customised sales training programmes with planned ROIs.

Denise though we would be a great fit for what you do, specifically around up skilling the sales team to:

Deal more effectively with prospects when faced with competitors
Countering the belief for price cutting during the downturn”

3. Include a Call to Action

Always include a call to action but structure this in a way that is not dependent on this request.

Example

“I was planning to call you this Friday at 3pm to discuss further, if you would prefer a different time, just let me know. Should you require any further info at this stage, you can get me on this (number) or by e-mail”

Author's Bio: 

Niall Devitt is our training consultant and business mentor, with over a decade of experience working as senior sales manager and trainer for some of Ireland’s top companies. Niall is regularly asked to contribute business articles. His advice has been featured on on-line International business resources, the Irish press and radio. To read Niall’s blog on business know how, visit btbtraining.com/blog.