What’s your biggest challenge in sales?
It very well could be converting, hitting quota, retention, qualifying, or any of the other 724 tasks you have to juggle each and every day. All of those are crucial, and none of them are particularly easy.
That said, would it surprise you to learn that prospecting is considered the biggest challenge by 42% of salespeople, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying leads (22%)? Probably not. Maintaining a steady flow of prospects into your sales funnel is necessary, but it’s also time-consuming and often frustrating.
You need leads to get sales, and you need sales to reach quota. That’s the name of the sales game, right?
There’s a close correlation between the number of leads or opportunities in your pipeline, and hitting your monthly sales goals. A whopping 72% of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month fall short of their revenue goals. That number plummets to 15% for those generating 51-100 opps/month, and a minuscule 4% for businesses with 101-200 new opportunities each calendar year.
The more prospects you produce, the better able you are to hit quota and reach revenue goals. Makes sense.
But, as always, it’s easier said than done.
Prospecting used to be a numbers and phone game. You’d get a list of names and telephone numbers, call them all in order, and hope that X% would be interested in whatever it was you were selling. And it worked, for a while.
But in the age of caller ID, do-not-call lists, and voicemail, it doesn’t work any longer:
- Roughly 80% of calls go straight to voicemail.
- About 90% of first-time voicemails are never returned.
- The average voicemail response rate is only 4.8%.
- It takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer.
Those aren’t great numbers. And if the average rep leaves 70 voicemails per day, at an average of 1 minute each, that adds up to nearly 25 hours per month spent on something that delivers very little return.
No wonder sales reps spend only 33% of their time actively selling. We can do better.
Enter email, the smarter way to prospect, connect, and engage.
Email delivers a $44 return for every $1 spent and 174% more conversions than social media. 87% of marketers plan to spend more on email marketing. And you can be sure your competition is already doing it.
But wait, there’s more:
- Almost three-quarters of millennials – 73% – cite email as their preferred channel for business communication.
- 64% of decision-makers read email.
- Automation and personalization are the two most widely-used email marketing techniques.
- Email is the top channel for both customer acquisition and retention.
So let’s assume you know that, and you’re already using it for sales outreach and prospecting. Kudos.
How can you make an already-stellar channel just a little bit better? Try these insider tips and tricks for email prospecting.
1. Make It A Priority
Using email for your sales prospecting is one thing. Prioritizing it is something else entirely.
To truly get the most out of it, you need to make prospecting as important as your monthly sales goals. You need to schedule it every day. You need to create a consistent block on your daily timetable. You need to set concrete, achievable prospecting goals.
Prioritize prospecting as you do sales. Incentivize prospecting as you do sales (contests, leaderboards, and so). Track, monitor, and manage prospecting as you do sales.
Because one without the other is only half as successful as you could be.
2. Build Your List
You can never have enough. As the saying goes, you’re either growing, or dying.
The digital revolution has made building your email prospecting list easier than ever before:
- Ask for referrals from existing and past customers. Research shows that at least 83% of customers are willing to give a referral after a positive experience. 92% trust referrals from people they know. Ask for them. Always.
- Use a list building tool like Dux-Soup to find potential leads based on keywords, location, job titles, and more. Identify, collect, and export automatically.
- Names but no address? Try VoilaNorbert to find anyone’s email address.
- Use a service like LeadFuze to discover, find, and verify qualified prospects for you.
3. Enrich Your List
Don’t fall victim to the belief that a built list is a done list. It’s not.
Names and a few other details are not enough. You need to research the companies and individuals on your list before contacting. Do it manually, or use an enrichment tool like FullContact to turn partial snapshots into complete profiles. Build your list. Enrich your list. Scrub your list.
Consumers expect a personalized customer experience in 2018 and beyond. Make sure you have the necessary details to give them one.
4. In Template We Trust
The great thing about email prospecting is the ease with which you can scale up your efforts by using a template.
Craft a powerful, engaging first-contact template with merge tags or fields to automatically personalize while reaching more prospects than you could with a manual approach. Automation does not mean impersonal.
Try out a few email formulas to find which works best with your target. Drop in personalized details collected during your research and enrichment phase. Send it out to your polished, scrubbed list.
Personalize as much as possible. No one has time for an email that is clearly a blast campaign sent out to thousands.
Personalize your subject line. 33% of people decide to open an email based on the subject line alone, and personalized ones are 26% more likely to be opened, so make it compelling.
Personalize your opening line. Personalize a bit in your main body. But don’t over-personalize and drift into the creepy zone. 2-3 genuine and relevant personalizations are better than 5-10 superficial ones.
A personalized email improves your click-through rates by 14%, and your conversion rates by 10%, while segmented campaigns see 39% higher open rates, 24% better deliverability, and 18x more revenue than broadcast emails.
6. One and Only One CTA
Every email you send should have one tangible call-to-action. What do you want your recipient to do? Have you made it ridiculously easy for them to do it?
Be clear. Be bold. Be compelling.
… but not too much and not all the time. Automation should be used in the beginning to reach out and make first contact, but you should personally engage once your prospects are warmed and primed.
B2C marketers have seen conversion rates up to 50% while using automation, and automated messages drive an average 70.5% higher open rate and 152% higher click-through rate. Automated emails produce 320% more revenue than non-automated ones.
So automate up to a point, then personally engage. A solution like Mailshake can queue prospects and notify you once they meet your criteria (a reply, a click, X number of opens, and so on).
8. Follow up
Follow up, follow up, follow up. And follow up again. Consider:
- 92% of salespeople give up after four ‘no’s’…but 80% of prospects say ‘no’ four times before they say ‘yes’. That math doesn’t add up.
- Yesware found that 70% of email chains stop after just one unanswered message, another 19% after two, and a further 7% after three. However, the same study found an average reply rate of 30% on the first message, 21% on the second, 13% on the fifth, and 7% on the tenth.
Moral of the story? Keep sending and you’ll keep getting replies.
Quick Email Prospecting Hacks
Want a few more quick tricks? Try these in your next prospecting session.
1. Trickle Down
Cold email is hard. They don’t know you.
Find the individual just above the decision-maker you want to target. Send him or her your carefully-crafted email, and if you’re lucky, you may end up with an email instructing you to contact Mr. or Ms. X, your intended recipient.
Now, you can include an introduction from their boss in your first message. Instant credibility.
2. Be Real
Be real, authentic, and genuine. Most of us can smell insincerity a mile away. Build relationships. That’s what people want and respond to in the 21st century.
2. Be More Persuasive
Explore the six principles of persuasion as defined by Robert Cialdini: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Use them sparingly in your messaging to maximize your powers of persuasion.
3. Keep Track
That which gets measured, gets managed. Track opens and clicks to see what’s working, what’s not, best times to send, and so on. Optimize based on those insights. Most email solutions can easily do this for you. All you have to do is take the time to look it over and consider what it’s telling you.
Prospecting need not be painful. With email, you can quickly scale up without sacrificing the personalization your prospects have come to expect.
A steady stream of prospects means a steady stream of sales. So open the floodgates.
What’s your best-kept email prospecting secret? Leave your thoughts in the comments below:
Sujan is a leading expert in digital marketing. As the co-founder Single Grain, a digital marketing agency, he managed and grew an outbound sales team in addition to scaling leading client marketing strategies. He is currently the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, VoilaNorbert, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.