Email Prospecting 101

Email has replaced cold calling for many sellers.

It’s less threatening for you and easier for your prospects to respond.

As an added bonus, the results from your email campaigns can be quite impressive when they are individualised.

With that in mind this is a personal attraction strategy you definitely want to consider including in your lead generation arsenal.

Email prospecting has become so popular, particularly in the technology scene, that there are tons of resources available.

You can read blogs, white papers, case studies, and more.

And that’s fine.

But your objective is to uncover real prospects with real needs right now.

The the tips I’m going to share with you in this article apply to sellers who are using email as a prospecting tool.

They’re proven, with many success stories to support them.

Perhaps one of my favorite is from Helen, an online subscription software seller.

Helen had 60 leads that were over six months old and hadn’t progressed.

They were sitting in her CRM system.

And she was struggling with what to do with them.

The contacts hadn’t responded to any calls or any of her previous emails.

After speaking with us, she decided to change the content of her email and try again.

In one day, after just one email, Helen received 43 replies.

She received so many that it took her the entire next day to respond to them all.

With some simple adjustments, Helen had a 71.7% response rate!

Now, I know what’s in the back of your mind.

You’re thinking, “But Helen had 60 leads who had contacted her at some point, so they already knew her. I’m sceptical that I can get that many replies from a cold call email campaign.”

Read on and I’ll share how you can get leads from email prospecting even if your target market doesn’t know about you yet.

The Glimpse Factor

In three seconds your prospects make a choice between reading or trashing your email.

This is called the Glimpse Factor.

Prospects quickly determine if they need to read what you’ve sent.

Or if they can let it go without opening it.

The Glimpse Factor is what a prospect thinks when s/he first glimpses your message.

In their subconscious, your contacts are asking themselves three questions with every message you send them.

  1. Do I have time for whatever it is right now?
  2. Can I delete it and do nothing at all?
  3. Should I hold onto it and do something later?

These are the three questions prospects ask themselves no matter which prospect attraction strategy you use.

However they are most prevalent with email prospecting.

With this in mind, you need to write compelling personalized messages that appear easy to respond to.

Break the Delete Barrier

Clearly your objective is to get prospects not only to read the email, but to respond so you can set an appointment and begin the sales process.

That means you need to find a way to get past their Glimpse Factor and avoid the delete barrier.

There are two keys to successful email prospecting …

  1. The message, both what it says and how it looks in a prospects email in-box
  2. The follow-up

Even if you’re emailing a list of prospects who have never heard of you or your company, you can get replies from your campaigns.

Take Hank.

He’s a benefit insurance seller and does all his prospecting through email.

He was very discouraged initially because his emails weren’t generating any responses.

He followed up with cold calls and discovered that the emails hadn’t even been opened.

When we reviewed his emails,  we discovered that they were long and arduous, centering primarily on his services and how they have helped other clients.

Additionally, he’d sent them on an email template that included a graphic resembling a newsletter banner with bullets and multiple font colours throughout.

Nothing felt personal.

Hank’s email needed an extreme makeover to draw his message out and grab his prospects attention.

As Hank changed his approach, he saw an increase in responses.

Within one week, he’d secured an appointment for a $187,000 opportunity with a new company.

Email prospecting does work, if you know how to appeal to your contacts.

What follows are tips to use the Glimpse Factor to your advantage, write compelling messages, and create emails that will break through your prospects delete barrier.

Email Prospecting Tips and Tricks

Limit the number you send. Don’t send more emails and then you can respond to. Helen sent 60 emails and found herself overwhelmed when she immediately received 43 responses.

People today expect you to respond to the email within 24 hours.

In the back of their minds, though, they’re expecting a reply within a couple of hours.

I recommend limiting the number of emails you send to no more than 50 contacts at a time. Some prospects will respond immediately and others may take several days.

If you’re very busy, limit them to between 20 and 25 prospects.

If you’re looking for a big response quickly, send as many as 100 but be sure you scheduled time on your calendar in advance to follow-up on all the replies.

Find the right email addresses. This is always the biggest issue for sellers. They secure a list of targeted account names for their market, but don’t know how to get a person’s name and email address.

We can provide you with lists of targeted accounts, decision-makers, and their email addresses. Email Emma:

Tailor your message. With small groups, you can use very specific trigger events to catch your prospects’ attention. Your message will feel personal to the prospect even if it was sent to a group of 50 names. The more customized your message, the better chance you have that they’ll feel an inclination to respond to you.

Include the trigger event, emotional-inducing words, and results you’ve achieved with other clients in your initial emails. Combined, they act as a grabber to pull in your prospect. In follow-up emails, forward the initial email and refer to it. No need to repeat the same information again.

Personalize the subject line. The sender and subject line are the first two places your prospects glimpse before determining if they are going to delete or read your email.

If you’re sending emails to people who won’t recognize your name or your company name, it is critical that the subject line grab their attention and entice them to open it.

Use subject lines that feel personal to the contact, as if you had them top of mind and at just this moment decided to connect with them.

Choose a subject line that intrigues them with an idea, but is still professional.

  • An idea for reducing your I T operational costs
  • A thought about improving response times for customers
  • An idea for continuing your critical research in the event of a disaster

What I like about mentioning an idea is that it still feels more relaxed and individual.

While a marketing-generated email might say “Reduce Your IT Operational Costs,” your email suggests that you’ve thought about the high cost of maintaining computer systems that Johnson Inc is grappling with and have an idea you want to share to reduce expenses.

The executive you send it to will definitely open your email to see what new ideas you have.

You won’t disclose the idea in your email because your objective is to set up a first call, initial meeting, or demo.

That’s what all your email prospecting is designed to do.

It’s purpose is no to make a sale but to secure that first call, initial meeting, or demo.

As a word of caution, avoid subject lines that are gimmicky.

They might be fun to write, but are often the first ones to hit the delete barrier.

Instead, keep your subject lines related to the body of your email.

Use a salutation. It’s very unusual to find an email in North America, Europe, or Australia that is addressed to the person’s surname like, Hi Mr Simpson.

Remember, your strategy is to be more informal.

For example:


Hi Jeff,

Dear Sally,

Good morning Andrea,

If you don’t have a name, eliminate the company from your list until you can secure one.

Sending an email with no name will immediately hit the delete barrier.

Invite them in with your signature. Your signature line is an excellent way to invite prospects to get to know you, and you want to leverage it. With the amount of social networking information available today, include a link to one of your publicly available profiles, such as LinkedIn or Facebook. If you use Twitter or Skype, include your ID.

Promote your company by including a tagline promoting what you do, and upcoming event, a new podcast, YouTube video, or recent article.

Each of these links is an opportunity for your prospects to click through and learn more about you, making them more comfortable about reaching out to you. They increase your credibility and help you establish a connection before you’ve even met.

If you do business internationally, you can subtly advertise it by including your industry code with your phone number.

Keep them short. Keep your initial email as brief as possible to ensure it’s at least skimmed. Ideally, you want your prospects to read the entire email. That means you need to make it a quick read.

Include a trigger event at the beginning that the majority of your target market can relate to.

That will draw them in the immediately.

But then, get to your point … quickly.

As a rule, include no more than four sentences in a paragraph.

If possible, limit your email to 3 paragraphs and a one-line sentence as your closing paragraph.

Insert a one-line paragraph in the middle to make your email appear shorter.

Forget what your seventh grade English teacher said. Emails must feel personal and less formal than a business letter. Throw away the perfect grammar and write conversationally. The more conversational your email sounds, the more likely you will get a response.

Here are the new rules:

  • use conjunctions
  • end sentences with a preposition if appropriate
  • include a one-sentence paragraph that fosters a fast read
  • don’t worry if one thought carries across two paragraphs
  • don’t spell out numbers
  • abbreviated days of the week, typical industry terms (such as I T), and commonly abbreviated words like “info” are OK to use

Limit the number of links. Just as in cold calling, your objective in email prospecting is to secure a call, appointment, or demonstration.

Some sellers get so excited about what they sell that they include a bunch of links in the body of their email to tell their story.

They think it’ll excite prospects and make them want to engage in a conversation.

The more information you give away in your email, the less need your prospect has to speak with you to determine if they should be working with you.

So hold back some of your great staff until you’ve talked to your prospects.

Focus on the trigger event and results you can bring. Include a link to your educational offer, but nothing more. No attachments. No white papers. Just the offer related to the trigger event.

The added benefit of just one link is that you appear less like a marketing newsletter and more like a real person sending an ‘artisinal’ email.

Give prospects multiple ways to respond. Even though prospects can simply hit “reply” to respond to you, they may be eager to talk to you right away.

So be sure you give them the option of calling you … connecting on LinkedIn, following you on Twitter, and reaching out to you in any other way convenient for them.

Your signature will include your social network information and phone number, and I recommend including your phone number in the body of your email too.

Not everybody will scroll down to the bottom of your email to find it.

So if your phone number is written in the body of your email with your call to action, your contacts will read it as part of the email and see it as an additional way to contact you.

Avoid spam traps. Spam blocking is an issue with every email you send to people you don’t know, and even with some prospects who have invited you to contact them.

Here are six tips to help you glide past spam traps:

  1. Avoid using banners or signatures with graphics. These are often flagged as spam and blocked.
  2. Limit the number of links to one in the body of the email and three or four in your signature.
  3. Use a company email address rather than a free “Gmail,” “Yahoo” or other public email system address.
  4. Avoid sending from a generic company email address such as “sales@.”
  5. Be careful to keep your subject business-related and not sales-orientated.
  6. Don’t send individual emails to a large number of people within the same company at the same time with the same subject line. Often when you do this the email is flagged as spam. Vary your subject line and the time you send the emails so they enter the prospect company’s email server at different times.

When to Avoid Email

There are two situations when you want to avoid email.

  1. Your target market doesn’t use email.
  2. You can’t get a good list of your target markets email addresses, or it would take would take you too long to clean up a list.

A word about email permission laws. If you want to email a large list and you are not targeting the message of your emails, you need to be aware of the permission laws surrounding email campaigns.

In many countries it’s against the law to send emails without the recipient’s agreement.

In those cases, you can’t email unless you can find a way to make the message completely targeted to your prospects so it applies directly to them, or you have their permission to email them.

Another strategy is to get approval through a different lead-generation activity. For example, Tom delivered a webinar on Leveraging Open Source Tools in Your Business.

He offered a checklist of ways to leverage the tools with a call for action to sign up for an electronic newsletter.

All the people who responded positively gave Tom permission to email them.

If you don’t use a lead generation activity to get permission, your email must be specifically personalized to your prospect.

You can still have a call to action, however, if it appears to be an advertisement, you risk it being screened as spam, deleted immediately, responded to angrily with a “remove” in the subject line, or reported as breaking the law.

If any one of these occurs, you have lost the potential lead, possibly lost all permission to email the contact, may lose permission to send emails through your email hosting company, and may even have a legal battle on your hands.

To avoid any of these negative responses, the sure your emails have a message that relates directly to your contact.

Email prospecting is one of the most effective ways to reach your prospects today.

Done right, people will notice of your messages and respond when they have a need.

About Prospectifier

Prospectifier is the most efficient way to equip sales and marketing teams with custom B2B lead data at scale.

Our data experts conduct ongoing research to automatically supply teams with accurate contact information and hard-to-acquire data points that fit a business’s most valuable buyer personas.

Contact Emma Baldwin to learn more about how Prospectifier makes sales and marketing teams more efficient at the top of the funnel.