When your sales emails are focused only on what you want, you're not selling—you're spamming.
That's a problem, because once a potential buyer identifies you as a spammer, any chance you had of building a fruitful sales relationship has scattered to the wind.
Ideally, you want to present yourself in sales emails as a trusted advisor who has taken the time to understand your prospects' specific needs. That means communicating value in your messages, making contact at the right time, and doing enough legwork in advance to know who you're talking to.
Let's take a look at five sales email mistakes that only spammers make, and how you can improve your sales messaging to avoid putting the wrong foot forward.
5 Sales Messaging Mistakes That Make You Sound Like a Spammer
1) A spammer’s message doesn’t feel like a conversation.
Sales emails should sound like a person talking to another person. As simple as that sounds, it can be hard to get right when you’re emailing dozens of contacts a day.
When it comes to making your outreach efforts conversational, ask yourself what you would respond to. While typing subject lines in title case, and beginning your emails with OVER-EXCITED INTRODUCTIONS(!!!) may seem like the way to go, it actually might be why your messages are ending up in the trash or getting caught in the spam filter.
Some simple personal touches to add the human element to your email copy may include:
- Using your contact’s first name, rather than “Mr./Mrs./Ms. [last name]”
- Using contractions to create a more casual, familiar tone
- Referencing your prospect’s company name, the city where they’re located, and personal details like the college they attended (see: warm emailing)
- Dropping the occasional emoji in your subject lines and the body of your email
- Limiting yourself to one exclamation point per message. (This is a hard-and-fast rule here at Nutshell.)
As writing coach Shelly Davies puts it, “The absence of warmth doesn’t equal neutral. It equals rude.” If you’re sending an email with the goal of introducing yourself and scheduling a call, there’s no need to phrase it like a subpoena. /End rant.
Side note: Being more human and relatable doesn't mean sacrificing punctuation, grammar, or otherwise violating the laws of literature. Nothing will kill your reputation faster than writing like an amateur, which is why it’s wise to have a free spelling/grammar checking tool in your back pocket. (Though keep in mind that even robots make mistakes sometimes, so make sure that you look at everything with your human eyes before hitting “send.”)
2) A spammer doesn’t speak your language.
Now that you sound like a human being, the next step is to make your prospects feel like you’re one of them.
Every industry or business type is a sub-culture, with its own slang, jargon, and memes. No matter which industry you’re selling to, you should have a solid grasp on the words they use with each other. If you’re selling to manufacturing companies, you’d better know your BOMs from your JITs. If you’re selling in the transportation and shipping industries, you need to know that “truckload” is a specific term of measurement, and not just another way to say, “that thang is filled up, my dude.”
Using these terms correctly (but tastefully) in your sales emails is an easy way to build credibility, so make sure to read industry-related blogs and books to get a handle on how your prospects actually communicate. You’ll come off a lot better than spammy sellers who don’t care enough to research their target industry’s language, or even worse, overuse jargon to the point where it feels inauthentic.
3) A spammer knows their emails are annoying.
In sales, genuine confidence will propel you much farther than any gimmick. Confidence comes from being sure of the value that you're providing your prospect, and knowing your target customer so well that you can find the best solution for their needs.
Positioning yourself as an advocate or trusted advisor, rather than simply a vendor or supplier, will help you build trust with your buyers. But when you're not confident in what you're selling—or how you're selling—it will come through in your messaging.
Phrases like “just following up” and “sorry for bothering you” are common “tells” in sales emails that reveal a lack of confidence; you feel like an annoyance to the recipient because you’re not sure how your presence is actually helping.
To quote Charlene "Ignites" DeCesare, "When you deeply believe you can help someone who needs what you offer, you are never 'bugging' them." So stop thinking about selling, and focus on serving your prospects. That way, you'll never have to apologize.
4) A spammer blasts their entire pipeline at once.
Timing is critical to a savvy salesperson. The content, frequency, and calls-to-action of your messaging should be determined by your prospects’ positions in your sales pipeline. (This is especially true for cold emails, as your reputation with your recipients hasn’t yet been established, and they’re going to be looking for reasons to write you off.)
While a spammer fires off a boilerplate sales email to their entire list and hopes for the best, a savvy seller prepares fundamentally different messages depending on what their prospect needs at any given moment. For example:
- Repeat customers should hear “Welcome back!”, not “It’s great to meet you!”
- Brand new leads need educational materials and one-on-one consulting before you attempt to ask for the sale.
- If a buyer is interested in dropping their current accounting software in favor of yours, they don’t need an ebook on the benefits of accounting software—they already know how it helps their business.
Aligning your sales messaging with the buyer’s journey requires the right tools. A CRM with pipeline management features will allow you and your team to keep tabs on where every single prospect is in your pipeline, and you can use email marketing software to segment your contacts and send them targeted messages. (Nutshell’s nifty integration with Mailchimp does all that automatically, btw.)
5) A spammer goes in cold—ice cold.
One final tip for anyone who doesn’t want to sound like a spambot: You’re always more successful with your sales emails when you’re not hitting up perfect strangers.
First of all, if you paid for a cold lead list, understand that it’s practically useless. Recipients are far more likely to engage with your emails if you have a previously-established reputation with them. That means building a list from scratch by attracting potential buyers to your site with genuinely helpful content, and letting them opt-in naturally.
Assuming you’ve already done that, it’s still not okay to aimlessly blast your master list. Instead, you should segment your list as specifically as possible, and send hyper-relevant messages to each segment. If someone is interested in your blog content, they might appreciate a personalized invitation to an upcoming webinar. If someone signed up for coupons or promotions, sending them email alerts with upcoming deals and sales is the way to go.
Getting the right message to the right people is the best way to make sure your outreach efforts pay off. And if you don’t know who your contacts are, how can you possibly know what they need?