E-mail can get better results than ordinary mail or telephone prospecting! From every ten e-mail messages sent, client sales teams are getting an average of three appointments with Directors or senior executives. I wouldn’ t blame you for thinking this an outrageous claim. It surprised us too. Establishing contact with new prospects, without the benefit of an enquiry, is a task most sales people find frustrating and unpleasant. Every ‘ no’ feels like a personal rejection. Success rates are usually much lower than three in ten. If your customers use e-mail, you can double or even triple your prospecting efficiency. Here is how it works.
First you need a targeted list of suspects. As DIY enthusiasts know, success is all in the preparation. Suspects who use e-mail are likely to have a web site. Check it out. Learn something about their business before you start tapping keys. Throw out suspects that don’ t match your prospect profile.
Next call to ask for an e-mail address. Ask who is responsible for the results your product or service delivers. Ask for the correct spelling then ask for their e-mail address. You should succeed eight out of ten times, just talking to the receptionist. Make sure you get the e-mail address letter by letter. An e-mail address is much less forgiving than a postal address. Names are usually separated by a hyphen, underscore or period, and sometimes by nothing at all. Some e-mail systems are case sensitive and will reject messages that use capital letters where they should be lower case, and visa versa. Some e-mail systems ignore capitalisation. Now you need to prepare a personalised e-mail. This is completely different from using a mail merge program to insert their name a few times. The message must appear to have been written just for the recipient. The only sure way to achieve this is to do exactly that. Write it for the recipient. Once you have a message that works, it will be fairly easy to customise each one. The first line should read something like "We are looking to contact companies who < a true complementary statement about their company or market position > to discuss < the main benefit of doing business with you >." With luck their web site will have provided you with enough information to write something meaningful for the first set of brackets. If you don’ t know what to write in the second set of brackets, make it a priority to find out.
The next sentence or paragraph should ask for a meeting. Try something like "I would like to arrange a meeting with you to explore mutual opportunities. Please reply to this email if < main benefit in a different form of words > interests you. I will contact your secretary to arrange a convenient appointment" Depending on the strength of your benefit statement and your particular product or service, you may want to elaborate a little in this paragraph. If you do, keep it to a maximum of three short and concise sentences. Place your signature line, here, after the second paragraph. Below it you can add some general information about your company, under the heading ‘ Background Information’.
That’s it. It is simple. Your suspect receives a frank, short note, indicating a strong benefit and representing a professional approach. Be prepared to test. If you don’t get any response from your first ten e-mails, vary the words. Change one thing at a time and try again with a second set of ten suspects.
Does this constitute the unsolicited e-mail intrusion known as SPAM? There has been a lot of debate amongst Internet marketing folk on this point. E-mail makes it possible to send out a million sales letters for almost no cost. Consequently every ‘would be’ entrepreneur can bombard masses of people with their sales pitch. Inexpensive software is available for gathering email addresses and automating the process of sending the messages. Many SPAMMERS do not provide you with the option for removal from the list. If you have not yet experienced it, you can imagine how much it can annoy people. There is an acre of difference between this and the targeted communication advocated in this article. Providing you stick to the guidelines and resist the temptation to use a shotgun approach, few, if any of your suspects will be offended. E-mail outperforms paper-based mail for several reasons. The impulse to say yes is easier to act on. It takes only a few seconds and a couple of mouse clicks to reply. Your suspect doesn’t have to instruct an administrator or print a letter to respond. E-mail protocol is more relaxed than for business letters. Most managers use e-mail and read e-mail, rather than have a secretary screen it. A few years ago, having an e-mail address was unusual. These days, of the people I know, only one in ten don’t have an e-mail address. Both my father and father in law are online. The writing is etched deeply into the wall. E-mail is changing how we do business.
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