Difference Between a Good Sales Email vs. Bad

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 @ 06:04 AM

Good-Vs.-Bad

Last week I received a request for help via email.  The reader asked if I could recommend a response to an email reply he received (at least he got a reply!).  The thing is, he deserved the reply he received because his introductory email absolutely sucked!  In today's article I'll share what he wrote, the reply he received, and my recommended response.  All of the names and organzations have been changed to protect the innocent.  Ready?  Here's his original introductory email:

 

From: <The Salesperson> [mailto:thesalesperson@thesalespersonsgmailaccount.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 4:15 PM
To: <The Prospect>
Cc: <The Salesperson's Boss>; <The Referral Source>
Subject: <The Referral Source>/Toner from <The Company>

Hi <The Prospect>,

I wanted to connect with you as our company would like to get on your bid list for toner, both black and colored. <The Referral Source>, the CEO of our company and I engaged in a conference call a few months ago. <The Referral Source> and I finally met today and he mentioned you were the go to person for these items.  I believe you have 10 or 11 HP 9050's but we could not find out what model printers have the colored toner.

We believe we can outbid your best competitor on these items and provide you with outstanding service.  We currently service all of <Other University's> printers and several other facilities in RI.  I am extremely fond of <This University> as my son <Salesperson's Son>, graduated from <This University> in 2006. 

I currently have my nephew attending, <Salesperson's Nephew> who is currently a freshman.  I met with him today while I stopped in to meet <The Referral Source>. He has been great with trying to assist us in our endeavor. We would greatly appreciate your assistance.  Kindly provide us with the printer model for the colored toner and any paperwork that needs to be completed to get on <This University's> bid list. In addition, an estimate of your usage monthly.  Attached you'll find a partial list of some of our major customers and our value proposition. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

<The Salesperson>
Business Development Manager
<The Company>

###

<The Salesperson> got this reply one day later:

From: <The Prospect>
Sent: ‎4/‎24/‎2015 12:28 PM
To: <The Salesperson>
Cc: <The Referral Source>;<The Salesperson's Boss>
Subject: RE: <The Referral Source>/ Toner from <The Company>

<The Salesperson>,

We are currently dealing with two suppliers for our Toner and other consumables needs for all printers and some MFPs. Both of those companies are under contract and at this point I think we are all set.  We will keep you in mind if we find they are unable to serve our needs.

<The Prospect>

<The Prospect>, C.P.M., CPSM
Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services
<This University>

###

<The Salesperson> sent me an email asking, "Hi Dave, how would you respond to this reply?"

I said, "First, the opening paragraph of the email you sent him positioned you all wrong for this – so you probably deserved to have gotten blown off…"

He did everything wrong!

  • He failed to start with the relationship building facts and went right to business thereby sounding like every other salesperson attempting to get a foot in the door.
  • He didn't ask for a meeting, a call, or a discussion - he asked to be put on their bid list - thereby confirming what <The Prospect> suspected - he was just like all of the other copier salespeople on the street.  And why would you want to be on a bid list?  Wouldn't we just want to get the contract?
  • He positioned his service and company as one that could beat the prices of the competition - thereby confirming that he was not providing any value.
  • He talked about great service and value but didn't back it up instead assigning homework.  I like homework assignments but not until the prospect wants help!

###

That said, I suggested that <The Salesperson> respond with:

 

Thanks for responding to my email, <The Prospect>.

I understand that as the director of purchasing, it’s your job to reject, refuse, rebut, and turn away salespeople that are simply further interruptions to your day.  But I’m shocked at how you treated the father of an alumni, who paid more than $150,000 to attend your fine school, and the uncle of another student in the midst of forking over six figures…

Is that how <Dir of Admissions> or <CEO of the University> would want you to treat outside influencers?

As the director of purchasing, I know you take pride in providing <The University> with the greatest value and efficiencies available and I know we can help you achieve that.

Won’t you reconsider your previous reply and schedule some time to talk?

###

So we'll see what happens when and if <The Salesperson> sends that email and whether or not <The Prospect> responds...

In the meantime, what should his original email have said?  If it were me, I would have called, but since this article is about sending an introductory email, I would have sent this:

Hi <The Prospect>,

<The Referral Source> strongly recommended that we talk.

But first, to provide you with some background and to establish my ties to the school, my son <Salesperson's Son> graduated from <This University> in 2006 and my nephew, <Salesperson's Nephew>, is currently a freshman. 

Anyway, <Referral Source> met with me and the CEO of my company and he thought we could provide some additional value and efficiencies for the school.

Would you be willing to schedule a short phone call to see if there's a fit?

Thanks,

<The Salesperson>

Notice that there was nothing about the product or service, no bid request, no pitch, and nothing about about pricing or homework.  Emails must be concise and provide a reason for the prospect to engage.

It's really not that hard to write a great, simple, effective email.  But most salespeople continue to send the junk we saw here.  You can't make this stuff up!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, scheduling sales appointments, email prospecting, good sales email, effective sales email, introductory email

Top 3 Keys to Convert Phone Calls to Meetings

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

traffic-circle-1

I had just finished speaking in Bozeman, Montana and was sitting in a delicious little breakfast cafe (think cowboy truck stop). That's when I was asked to explain how to maintain control of a cold call.  Well, the environment screamed rodeo, my inner voice yelled riding and taming a bull, but my voice of reason began talking about the concept of flow, patience, listening and staying in the moment.  

There are really only three primary things required to keep a call going long enough to get a disinterested prospect engaged:

  1. Road Signs. Where I live in Massachusetts, we call them rotaries, but in most places, they are called traffic circles or roundabouts.  The premise is that there is no such thing as a wrong turn in a traffic circle. The world is round, so instead of fighting to reverse direction, simply follow the path until you eventually return to the same traffic circle.  On a phone call, that means allowing the prospect to turn onto Put-Off Place, Disinterested Drive, Stall Street, or Hate it Highway. Instead of wrestling with them for control, just go with the flow and at some point you'll have a second chance to turn onto Success Street.  That is when you must use...
  2. If-Then Logic.  If you have ever written software code or even used formulas in Excel, then you have used if-then logic.  In sales, use if-then logic by writing out some formulas that you can use with confidence, whenever a prospect responds in a particular way.  For instance, if the first thing you hear is, "We're all set." you can respond with, "I expected you to say that...so I assume that [insert statement that assumes some version of perfection relative to what you sell]. If you are selling software, that might sound like, "So I assume that the latest efficiencies have allowed you to trim staff."  A series of if-then statements will work effectively if you have the proper...
  3. Tonality.  The most important thing on a call is to sound like someone who your prospect would choose to speak with.  When prospects try to get rid of salespeople on the phone, it's usually because they sound like salespeople, act like salespeople, and suck like most salespeople.  The calls don't sound like they will be much fun, prospects already know it will be a waste of time, and the salespeople are talking about themselves instead of their prospects.

When you utilize these three concepts to listen, stay in the moment, exercise patience, and succeed, your calls will improve.  Those are the three primary elements to getting a prospect's attention, keeping it, getting them engaged, and converting the call to a meeting.

Experts who sell marketing tools will tell you that cold calling is dead and to them, it is.  But they're wrong.  Even a follow-up call to a lead is a cold call.  Why?  If the person you are calling does not know you or expect your call, it's cold.  Today's leads - those where people must complete a form in order to get what they want - aren't any warmer than yesterday's leads.  They're only fresher.

The real problem is that fewer salespeople are making phone calls and when they do, they aren't reaching as many prospects as they used to.  It now takes 8-10 attempts to reach a prospect and 10-20 attempts to reach a CEO.  If that's not discouraging, then their awful calls will be.

It doesn't have to be this difficult.  Salespeople can be trained and coached to be effective at both cold calling and today's modified version of lead follow-up.  It's just that things have changed so much in the past 5 years that most approaches are outdated and ineffective.

If you or your salespeople need to build a bigger, better pipeline today, then the phone is the fastest, most effective way to achieve that.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, scheduling sales appointments, building the sales pipeline

How Stealing 2nd Base is Today's Secret to Success in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 @ 07:06 AM

stealingYesterday, I was coaching first base in the game that would determine the Little League championship for our town.  It was late in the game, we were down by 4 runs, and had runners on 1st and 3rd.  The runner on 1st base would need to steal second and perhaps draw a throw that would allow the runner on 3rd base to score.  A double steal!  There was only one problem.  He had been reluctant to steal all season.  When given the sign, when asked, when told, he just didn't want to steal.  After all, one of the 10 Commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Steal."  He couldn't defy God for the sake of baseball, could he?

I had a private chat with him at 1st base and told him that this wasn't about him or what he was comfortable with.  This was for the team, we were playing as a team, and would win as a team.  He should want to steal - for the team.  He didn't.  

Another chat, another reminder, another non-attempt.  

A third chat, another request.  No movement.  

The count on the batter was 2-1 and it was time for a desperate fourth chat.  This time, I demanded, with dire consequences (that I won't reveal here), that he steal.  He went.  The catcher threw and he was safe at 2nd and the run scored.  A momentary victory in the game within the game.  A play that will change him, even though it wouldn't change the eventual outcome of the game.

This morning, thinking about that play again, I'm reminded of two selling scenarios that are nearly identical.

First, there are the salespeople who just don't want to pick up the phone and make calls.  How similar are they to the kid who won't steal 2nd base?  We're not asking these adults to steal, but we are asking them to talk to strangers.  Is it possible that when faced with the task of making calls, they revert to their lessons from early childhood?  

Today, kids don't even talk on the phone.  They text.  I can't get our 12-year-old son to make a phone call under any circumstances.  What are the chances that he would make calls if he entered sales as an adult?

The second scenario involves all of the entrepreneurs out there who, according to a December 2013 Forbes article, number around 20 million!  Most entrepreneurs don't give selling a single thought until they have already started their businesses.  It's only then that they realize they might have to sell something in order to eat.

I wrote an article that appears on the #1 site for entrepreneurs, EvanCarmichael.com, that explains the 3 biggest obstacles entrepreneurs face when they must sell and how to overcome them.  The article applies to everyone in sales, not just entrepreneurs.  You should read it!

Back to making those cold calls.  In the old days, if a salesperson didn't pick up the phone or knock on doors, we starved.  There just wasn't any other way around it.  

Today, there's social selling and while some view it as a solution for call reluctance, I think it's a crutch.  I'm all for anything that helps a salesperson to sell, but does social selling really do that?  Does adding someone to your LinkedIn network make a sale?  Is having a connection the same as being connected?  Is being connected equivalent to being able to schedule a meeting with that individual?  Is being active in groups the same as making calls?

While we are surely more visible through the social networks, all of that busy work serves as smoke and mirrors for the salespeople who are reluctant to pick up the phone and make calls.  They have hope (by all accounts a good thing), but it's false hope.  After someone accepts the invitation to join their network, they can't reply with, "Now that we're connected, I want to talk with you about what we do.  Is it OK if I call?"  While they can hide behind the keyboard and type a lame request like that, the lack of an actual conversation will make it even more difficult to schedule a meeting.  And you can't have a conversation over email or LinkedIn.

There's an old saying in baseball that has been around forever and used as an anaology for many things:  "You can't steal 2nd base and keep one foot on 1st."  

The same goes for selling.  You can't schedule a meeting if you don't pick up the phone.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales pipeline, cold calls, scheduling sales appointments, tips on selling

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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