by Heather R. Morgan
Republished from Inc, November 22, 2017
Everyone from entry level salespeople to sales managers tend to get so caught up in email activity numbers, they overlook the main point of all that activity: how to effectively cold email a potential customer to start a conversation. And these days, that lesson is just as important as learning a new sales technology.
When cold emailing, you have to be absolutely meticulous about your process and strategy, not just the message itself. Even if what you’re selling solves a prospect’s pains, you will lose the chance for a discussion if your text is poorly formatted or full of typos. And bigger mistakes, like pitching a company software and services when they sell a very similar product, can lead to some seriously awkward exchanges with those on your prospective buyer list.
I’ve seen even experienced salespeople make simple mistakes that cost them a deal. If you want to develop (or maintain) successful email campaigns, take pains to ensure you aren’t making these four mistakes during your process:
1. Spending more time writing the email than researching the potential customer.
Cold emails should always be concise and simple, but don’t get so hung up on a single word that you waste valuable time. Trying to decide between “Thank you!” and “Thank you so much!” is not a good way to spend 15 minutes if you’re a salesperson.
Instead, use that extra time to research your prospective customers, to ensure you’re pitching benefits they can relate to and that will matter for their business. Get the competitors and industry terminology correct.
Do take the extra time to proofread, so you don’t wind up saying something like “there” instead of “their.” People will use any excuse to tell you no or ignore you.
2. Relying on inaccurate or messy data.
When putting data into a customer relationship management (CRM) system, there’s always a chance that autofill will wind up spelling a contact or company name wrong. Your data might also be incorrect to start with, especially if you bought a list. This is why it’s so important to check that your data is as clean and up to date as possible. And don’t just check once. Cleaning your data takes minimal time (under 15 minutes), and can be the difference between booking a meeting or ending up in the SalesFolk Cold Email Hall of Shame. Make time to do this task frequently.
And when it comes to using that data, always refer to a company by their accepted name in the marketplace and adjust your CRM data accordingly. Don’t use “International Business Machines Corporation” instead of IBM if you’re merging a company name in your campaign. If you do, customers will know you scraped your data and were too lazy to delete the unnecessary parts.
Along with company names, clean the names of all prospective buyers. Don’t send an email that says “Hi Heather R.” It instantly screams that you’re careless and that this is a completely mass and lazy email template. And if you discover that Robert from Acme prefers to go by Bob, change his name before merging your data. (Hint: sometimes prospects use the middle initial to catch people mail-merging lazily.)
3. Forgetting to fact check your information.
If you don’t know much about a company or potential buyer, it’s crucial to research before emailing. Sure, this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many cold emails contain errors someone could have fixed with a quick fact check. We all know that it takes about 10 seconds to double-check someone’s title or how they spell their last name. For example, don’t refer to a company like MailChimp as a mail-merging tool if they are a marketing-automation platform.
If you can’t find a quick answer from a (reliable) internet source, ask friends in the know or do some reading on the email recipient’s LinkedIn and social media accounts.
4. Waiting to send an email until you’re “ready.”
The most successful salespeople are always trying new strategies and using prospect feedback to improve their outreach. While it’s important to check facts and spelling, and research your potential buyers, when it comes to cold email, at some point you have to go ahead and hit “send,” even if you think your message is imperfect.
Still nervous and want more practice? Try sending one cold email to someone you admire or would like to interview. It will help you deal with objections–or it could add a valuable connection to your network. If you aren’t getting replies, keep trying different strategies and read articles to learn more tactics that may get the results you want. You’ll never learn if you don’t try.