Why Your Sales Email Sequence Isn't Working
The best way to illustrate why your sales email sequence isn't working is with an example from my inbox. Does this look familiar to you? I've disguised the name of the company to protect the innocent.
Email Sequence Touch No. 1
Subject: Quick question
I'd like to introduce ABC, software that helps businesses discover growth opportunities while avoiding risks. ABC helps coaches and their clients discern the "story behind the numbers" that every business' finances reveal.
Our coaching partners use ABC to offer additional value to businesses like THIS COMPANY and THATCOMPANY, pinpointing where problems might lurk, or where profitable opportunities might appear ... based on data, not intuition.
I'd love to answer your questions, but if you'd prefer to learn on your own, here's a link to ABC to learn more, or you can book an personal online tour.
This “first touch” sales email doesn't work because the:
- subject line is a lie — the contents don't contain a quick question!
- first sentence wants to introduce me to a product (thanks for alerting me so I can delete it!)
- problem this sender solves is way too generic (growth and reduce risks)
- sender spends the entire time talking about themselves, not me
- pushes information about the sender at me and encourages a website visit, rather than asking me a question!
Persistence is vital to success. Thus, a sequence of email messages and voicemail scripts is necessary. This is — and always will be — part of effective sales practices.
Need to set meetings? These days, it's taking an average of seven touches in a sales cadence to yield an invitation for discussion. My clients report (on average) email No. 4 is where they generate the most response.
However, most sales email sequences don't work because they:
- are push-oriented (rather than pull, curiosity-focused)
- contain an unsubscribe link (always a tip-off that this is NOT personalized)
- are trying to “add value” rather than provoke a reaction
- are not being complimented with calls and direct mail
Email Sequence Touch No. 2
Back to my example of typical sales email sequences — and why they fail sellers.
It's likely that your clients rely on you to advise them. ABC is a tool that helps business coaches with clients like THISCOMPANY to:
- Increase revenue by modeling cash flow alongside longer term sales projections
- Manage capital and avoid shortfalls by tracking invoices and bills
- Track the break-even point by quickly building a powerful, repeating budget
- Rapidly compile and compare "what if" scenarios to make solid operational decisions
I'd love to walk you through the benefits of ABC for your clients (or for yourself!) in a quick online tour you can schedule at your convenience.
This email doesn't work because the sender:
- shows me, immediately, “this message is unpersonalized”
- continues to talk about himself
- guesses about me rather than proves he's researched my business
- keeps “loving” the opportunity to sell me (Phil is desperate)
If you want to fail, this is the way forward. Push. Most of what is causing failure in this case is this element of push, rather than pull. The other element missing is personalization.
Not that fake personalization (“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you're my target customer”). Actual knowledge. For example, Phil should stop guessing that my clients rely on me to advise them and take the 5 seconds to say, “Jeff, your clients rely on advice from you to use email more effectively when prospecting. I noticed you work with ABC Client. I also help financial services customers.”
Make this email real to me. Stop cutting and pasting templates. Start talking to me. Use a template but customize it! Take a few seconds to research me, Phil. Prove to me you're not a machine.
Email Sequence Touch No. 3
I've linked here to one of our most-popular case studies. THISCOMPANY has one partner with a strong financial background but even so, they quickly outgrew the tried 'n true Excel spreadsheet for their financials and were badly in need of some business intel based on their numbers.
The software solution that helped them clearly see their opportunities was ABC — easy to create, a breeze to tweak, a cinch to share with their core members. It got everyone on the same page, asap.
If this sounds like any clients of yours, sign up for (a free, of course) personal tour of ABC and we can talk about how much your clients will our specific clients' needs.
At this point most prospects have seen that unsubscribe link within the email and used it. Or worse, they've marked you as spam — enabling email client(s) to see this sender as a source of spam.
Otherwise, this email sequence continues to beat me into submission — pushing information at me rather than provoking my curiosity. The sender keeps on assuming I have a broad need based on vague “see clearly their opportunities.”
Like your customers, I'm fine with the status quo. For the most part, a seller needs to go blood-and-guts on me — to convince me otherwise.
For example, this company (ABC) sells software to guys like me who need to create budgets and forecast cash flow. Who doesn't need that? But I'm not open to hearing about ways to capitalize on opportunities.
Because everyone is offering me their solution — based on vague promises like this.
However, I am more open to, “a better way to track actual spending against budgeted spending.”
This is what I mean by a more detailed, blood-and-guts description of a problem I need solved.
Also, in these messages, you'll notice serious type-os and grammar errors. Ouch!
Email Sequence Touch No. 4
Hi again Jeff,
I sent you an email a little while ago to invite you to give our app ABC, well ... a dry run. ABC could be a real game-changer for 2017 and for your clients. ABC forecasts and how you communicate both opportunities and risks that you see in their business.
Have you had a chance to take a peek at the benefits of using ABC with your clients?
Have a great day!
These sales emails are written in a pretty good tone. The tone is conversational. However, the push element is overpowering. Also, Phil's lack of research is not helping me see these messages as immediately relevant — even if I am, actually, in the market to invest.
I must first discover my own personal reason to engage in a discussion with Phil. This will take research on his part — to help me want to discover that reason or what might be a dull pain.
Email sequence touch No. 5
Here is the final email in the sequence:
Hi again Jeff,
I understand how busy you must be at this time of the year, so if you aren't interested in learning how ABC's method and software move businesses along the path to secure growth (even non-businessy-types!), I'll pause with the emails.
If you'd still like to book a tour, I'd love to walk you through the benefits of ABC when you're available. 🙂
Have a great day!
Persistence is vital to your success. But the number of words used in the above email is not worth taking time to read ... considering what is being communicated. It can be done with fewer words and without sounding like 99.5 percent of all follow-up type emails out there.
Yes, you do need to push forward. Absolutely. You must persist to succeed.
It is mandatory to use an email sequence, or cadence, that keeps you in the inbox — promotes your messages. But your sequence must scream “this is not a canned, templated message.”
Instead, your messages must clearly be:
- researched, personalized (not mass)
- provocative (causing me to become curious enough to hit reply)
- read without having to scroll on a mobile device
Remember, rather than beating clients into submission — pushing information at them — try provoking their curiosity. Avoid assuming buyers have a broad need based on general problem you solve.
In most cases, the status quo is the enemy. If so, go deeper. Go blood-and-guts on on prospects to help motivate (provoke) a response.
Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded the Google Affiliate Network in 1999, and has been selling for 18 years. Jeff is adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s business school, a social sales trainer and author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You. Most social selling trainers teach the value of engaging customers and providing relevant content. Then they demonstrate the technology. But no one tells you exactly how to produce leads and sales—using a proven, systematic approach to content. Until now.