In a global economy, it's not always practical to pick up the telephone and make a sales call. Time zone differences often prevent business professionals from making voice or in person contact. When that’s the case, you are relegated to the use of email as a sales tool.
When making email sales pitches, it's important to keep it brief. At the very least, you don't want to ramble. Instead, address your prospect by name, establish a connection, and make a compelling pitch before they decide to hit the "delete" key.
In this article, discover the strategies to writing effective email sales pitches—those that your prospect opens and acts on (at a higher percentage), while avoiding common points of failure.
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Why Email Sales Pitches Often Fail
An email sales pitch fails for a number of reasons, such as:
- Focusing entirely on the seller and not on the client.
- It’s too short, too long, or too vague.
- You make the wrong pitch to the wrong person.
- It isn't timely, or enticing enough to close the deal.
There are specific ways to overcome each of these hurdles. It largely depends on the type of lead you are addressing and the product or service you are trying to sell.
Your goal is to increase the number of successes you have with your email sales pitches. Get started with the important step of research.
Research Your Prospect Thoroughly
Do proper research on your prospect and company you are pitching to. Look into their latest sales figures, corporate structure, and recent news. Know the initiatives they have recently launched and trends that are effecting their business.
As Paul DeJoe CEO of Ecquire describes: "Your research should be credible and impressive to show that you appreciate the recipient. Give them the impression you took the time to understand their business and always present it in the form of fact based empirical data.” Know who you are addressing, what’s important to them, and use their needs as your point of connection when writing your sales pitch email.
Use Your Subject Line to Appeal to Emotion
After researching your prospect, begin crafting your email. The first step is to write a compelling subject line. A generic subject line will kill your chances of closing the sale before your prospect opens their inbox.
After all, if your prospect doesn't read the email, then you can't make the pitch. That's why a compelling subject line is the most important part of your email sales pitch. There are three components to crafting a strong subject line.
1. Don't Make it About You or Your Company
Make it about the prospect and their need. Your first obstacle to overcome is to answer their question, "Why should I read this e-mail?"
You can overcome that objection by promising your reader a benefit. Here are three examples:
- What If You Could Save A Nickel Every Time You Picked Up The Phone?
- How Videoconferencing Can Save A Life
- Why You Are Losing The Race To The Top Of The Career Ladder
In the first example, the objection is overcome by asking a question. This is effective because it hits at a core issue many people in all walks of life face. Everyone wants to save money.
The second example promises medical professionals the ability to save lives if they use an unexpected technology. Whoever would have thought that videoconferencing could save lives? If you were a doctor, you'd want to know more about that—wouldn't you?
In the final example, the subject line uses fear as a motivator. If people think they are going to lose something that is important to them, then they will invest the time to read further.
2. Appeal to the Reader's Emotions and Promise a Benefit
There are numerous triggers professional copywriters have learned to pull in prospects and compel them to act, which you can tap into with your email sales pitches.
The first example above appeals to the reader's sense of hope (I could save some money), the second example appeals to vanity (I could save someone's life and be a hero), and the third example appeals to fear (If I don't read this e-mail, I'll never make CEO). See how subtle they are?
As marketing communications professional Susan Gunelius notes, “People see a lot of marketing messages every day, so you have to give them a reason to digest yours by making them feel something when they see or hear it.” Your sales pitch should create an emotional connection with your prospect, make them feel something, and then compel them to act.
The seven basic human emotional triggers that you can leverage are: greed, lust, fear, vanity, guilt, hope, and belonging. Any one of these triggers can serve your sales pitch well.
3. Keep Your Subject Lines Powerful and Concise
Effective subject lines pack a punch. They are kept rather short, so all that emotion you're tapping into grabs the readers attention quickly.
Retention Science recently compiled a study on email open rates. They discovered a sweet spot for subject line length:
“After analyzing more than 260 million emails across 540 retail email marketing campaigns, marketing analytics firm Retention Science found email subject lines kept at 6 to 10 words resulted in a 21 percent open rate.”
While this study is aimed at a massive audience, and targeted to the retail industry, this is a compelling statistic to consider. People are busy; compact, emotionally-charged headlines, have a better chance of grabbing their attention and compelling them to read your sales pitch.
Beyond the Subject Line: Getting to the Point
Now that you've attracted your reader's attention, your email sales pitch must get to the point quickly and end with a strong call to action. That's more difficult than it sounds. You have a lot of competition; your prospect has other obligations pulling at their attention:
- an appointment
- a letter to write
- a project to start or finish
- the coffee pot
Your job is to make the recipient of your email forget these priorities just long enough to read your email and take action. You do that by:
- Identifying a problem.
- Stating the solution.
- Asking your reader to do something specific.
If you can get your email past the spam filter—both automated and human—and prevent your recipient from deleting your email, then you are halfway there. The other half is knowing which types of email sales pitch to make for the situation, and then making an effective pitch given the context.
6 Types of Email Sales Pitches to Master
Not all sales pitches are created equal. There are different approaches you can take based on a number of factors, such as your relationship with the recipient and what you want the reader to do when they get to the end of your sales pitch.
Generally, all pitches can be divided into warm and cold. Warm pitches are when you have an established relationship with the person you are contacting. Conversely, cold pitches are when you do not have an established relationship.
No matter how many cold or warm contacts you have, never send out a mass pitch to everyone who fits into one of these categories—that type of contact is reserved for people that have signed up for your email marketing newsletter list.
You want direct email sales pitches to be personal. Otherwise, you may as well hang up your hat right now.
Here's how to approach warm and cold prospects with your email pitch:
1. Warm Pitches
Start your email with a personal greeting and add a short statement to remind them of your relationship or to note what you have in common. For example:
Dear Mr. Carlson,
I met you at the Radisson Hotel in Denver last Friday and we talked about how the global airline industry is changing more rapidly than any of us realize. I hope I'm not intruding, but a comment you made reminded me of why I attended that conference in the first place.
It's critical that your prospect know who you are before you continue. This is a trust building factor that you need to establish if you want your prospect to listen to your pitch.
2. Cold Pitches
For cold pitches, you may have to do some leg work and find out the person's name. Impersonal emails rarely get read. You have to build trust, and you have a huge hurdle with a pitch that is going in cold. Personalize your e-mail and it will go a long way. Then, you have to get to the point quickly:
Dear Mr. Carlson,
I missed you at the Radisson Hotel in Denver last Friday for the Airline Middle Management Conference, but I have some great information that can help you despite our crossing paths.
Have you ever wondered why others make it to the top and you're still stuck in middle management? If you're like a lot of hard-working would-be executives, you'd like to know their secret.
Appeal to those emotional triggers again. You got their attention with your subject line. Keep it with your first paragraph.
Beyond warm and cold leads, email sales pitches fall into a few additional types. Here's how to approach your prospects for these purposes.
3. Lead Generation
The purpose of this e-mail is to introduce yourself and your company to the prospect. You are not selling anything, but you want to open the door to a discussion regarding the client's needs. So be a little low key, but make it clear why you are writing. You don't want to come on too strong, but you do want to be clear that you want to discuss a potential relationship. For example:
Dear Mr. Carlson,
When we spoke the other day, you indicated you have an interest in digital videoconferencing equipment and that your company was contemplating setting up a telepresence room at your location in Hoboken. I am writing today to see how far along you are in your plans for that purpose. Have you established a time frame for completing the project? When you are ready, I'd like to start a discussion with you on how I can help you reach that goal.
Notice that you are merely offering to "start a discussion," which is less threatening than trying to sell something. Maybe it will lead to a sale and maybe it won't. But you know your prospect has a need. Your email pitch is the perfect place to identify that need and address it in a nonthreatening way.
4. Appointment Setting
If you want to speak with your prospect on the phone, by Skype, through Google+ Hangouts, or meet in person, then you want to set an appointment. This pitch works for a warm lead or a cold lead, but you should follow the appropriate model for your opening paragraph as mentioned above.
If you have an established relationship, start off the way you would with a warm pitch and get to the point quickly. "We need to talk about …" and offer two or three options for meeting times. Be sure to state the medium you intend to communicate through (phone, Skype, webinar, Google Hangout, etc.).
At the end of the email, you need a strong call to action. An effective appointment setting pitch will lead your prospect to responding with the best meeting time and medium that fits their needs.
5. Closing Letter
With this email, you are ready to close the sale. You've likely answered most of the client's questions and are ready to seal the deal. If the client has expressed an interest in moving forward, restate the benefits they'll be receiving and end with a strong call to action. Here's a sample call to action:
These benefits are ongoing for the life of your service. I'll be happy to answer your questions or you can get started today by clicking here. Alternatively, call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx and I can get your service started immediately.
If in your last communication there was some hesitation, you still want to restate the benefits and include a strong call to action, but reiterate that you are willing to answer questions if the client has them.
This is a bit more involved and may take some input from other team members or could take up several days of research and writing time. It might also include several attachments, or you may send a multi-page PDF document with ample information.
Your intent is to lay out in detail the scope of a large project, usually phase by phase, with associated costs for each phase. By the end of your proposal, your prospect should know almost everything needed in order to agree to your plans. You may need to follow up with a phone call, Skype session, or another email, but your prospect will know what you intend to do to help them solve their problems.
Your call to action may be a contract, an invitation to call you, or another meeting, but you need to be clear about what action you want them to take and make it strong.
How to End Your Email Sales Pitch
When you write your email sales pitch, keep it as brief as possible while providing as much detail as necessary to help the client make a decision. Do not include random facts, fluff, or superfluous information.
The longer your email, the more likely it will not be read, but if it doesn't include all the necessary facts, you won't close the sale. It's important to balance brevity with detail to meet the prospect's needs.
The last thing your prospect sees should be your signature, unless you utilize a post script technique to give a final offer. Your signature should include your name, title, company, phone number, email, link to your company website, and other contact information, as appropriate to your business.
Put the strategies you learned in this article to use in your next sales pitch email and start tracking your results.