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3 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Email Outreach (and How to Fix Them)

3 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Email Outreach

Let’s be honest. Effective prospecting is harder than ever these days. With so many emails flooding inboxes, it's easy for prospects to archive or ignore sales emails without a second thought. And can you really blame them? Despite best efforts, sales teams often let errors slide through that hurt their chance of making a meaningful connection. 

Unfortunately, many of these email outreach mistakes go unnoticed. 

As part of our September Sales Series, we've collected some of the most common email flubs we see in our own inboxes and shared tips for correcting or eliminating the offenses. Here are mistakes that sabotage your email outreach strategy (and how to fix them).

1. Gimmicks

There’s a worrisome trend in email outreach right now: the “RE: _______” subject line. Familiar with it? If so, you likely shuddered. 

If not, here’s a real life example:

This particular gimmick tricks recipients into thinking they’re opening an existing email thread, even though there was never a conversation to begin with. It’s a little like click-baiting busy professionals. 

I don’t respond particularly well to this type of email trick, and I’m guessing you don’t either. Standing out in an email inbox shouldn’t require workarounds like this. Instead, there are more palatable alternatives to creating friendly, meaningful emails. 

Here are a couple ways to make sure your emails aren’t falling into gimmicky territory:

  1.  Send emails to other teams to get real-time feedback. If you’re finding it difficult to figure out if your email is gimmicky, an excellent way to stress test is by sending a draft to your sales team (or to other departments) for feedback. Most people experience immediate reactions to emails (both subject line and body). These reactions can be gold for you!A teammate might even some great suggestions about which outreach emails attract them and which ones don’t.
  2. Be a human. In every “Top 10 Ways to Get More Responses” list, you’ll see a line item that talks about being personable in your email. This often gets brushed off, but it’s an absolutely crucial bit of advice.Humans respond to humans. We tend to distrust things that sound like robots. So it bears repeating – be human! Yesware even shares that “personalized emails can deliver nearly 50% higher open rates and nearly 22% higher reply rates. (Source)

2. Giving Too Many Options (or Not Enough)

There’s a delicate balance between dump trucking information on a potential client and giving them one terse call to action. Most likely, you want to land somewhere in the middle as you craft your email. 

Here are a few fixes to solve the "too much" or "too little" issue:

  1. Limit 2-3 items. This range avoids the singular goal (for example: “Let me know what date works best for a phone call.”) that can isolate readers, and also limits your offerings to a nice, digestible number of offerings.
  2. Stick to ICA. If you get stuck trimming down or bulking up, here’s a great checklist to help you out: Item of value, Action, and a Conversation starter.

The email above does a great job of showing value and being clear in its objectives. The reader can quickly see what the company does, self-educate themselves by clicking on the linked resource, and/or continue the conversation by answering the sender’s question.

3. Pushing Product Over Possibility

Great sales reps are great storytellers. This isn’t to say they make things up – in fact, quite the opposite. They simply know how to translate something straightforward into something compelling. 

For example, imagine you’ve just received this email:

“Hi there,
I’d love to tell you about a brick that I think you’d really like. You can get this brick for a low, low price of $1 dollar and 100 of these bricks for $99. Let me know a time that works for you, and we’ll schedule a meeting where I can tell you more about this brick that we have to offer you.
Cheers,
Ron W.”

Not so intriguing, right? It doesn’t give much insight into what I (the prospect) could do with the brick or how this brick could help me. All I know is that a stranger wants to take some of my valuable time so that he or she can talk about their brick. 

Now consider this email:

“Hi Nick,
I saw your name in a house-building community forum. You really know your stuff when it comes to building amazing homes! I was really impressed with the depth of your answers.
That in mind, I thought you might be interested in this free resource: “More Than Bricks: Turning Foundations Into Homes.”
It covers proven approaches for communicating the importance of solid construction with the result of more sales. Might be helpful as you're getting your business name out.
Out of curiosity, would you be interested in receiving more resources like that?
Thanks,
Ron W.”

There’s a noticeable difference between the two. The second email communicates more meaning and value, and also gives resources to the recipient. 

These are not small things! Adding educational sentences about your product can be great. But really understanding how a prospect might use and benefit from the service will be the crucial differentiator in emails that get more than a second or two.

Adding educational sentences about your product can be great. But really understanding how a prospect might use and benefit from the service will be the crucial differentiator in emails that get more than a second or two scan of the email. 

Here are couple ways to turn features or products into benefits:

  1. Do the grunt work of connecting two dots for the reader. Selling isn’t about creating a fairy tale, it’s about illuminating the very real benefits of your service. When you illuminate how your offering can help prospects achieve their goals, you’re connecting the dots that frame the whole picture.
  2. Never send an email without providing something that’s equal to or more valuable than their time. This is – arguably – hard. Time is absolutely precious to everyone. That’s why people are so often frustrated by poor prospecting emails. They take their time without giving them something valuable in return!So whether it be a case study story, and exceptional statistic, or the likes, make sure your email is actually worth the reader’s time, and not a throwaway statistic that has little to do with their success and more to do with yours.

Interested in Reading More Pro Sales Tips?

Download your free copy of our latest sales eBook:  “The Ultimate Guide to Lean Selling." You'll learn actionable tips for speeding up every stage of the sales cycle. 

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