In physics, absolute zero is the temperature when, in the most fundamental sense, nothing happens. Literally, nothing. It’s so cold, atomic particles don’t even move.
That’s a good analogy to describe how just one writing mistake can glaciate your already cold prospecting email. Make just one mistake and your prospect likely won’t respond. They may not even read past the first sentence!
I’ve been seeing this a lot lately in my copywriting workshops with sales teams. Just one blunder in a cold prospecting email kills response rates. The good news is, simply avoiding these chill-inducing gaffes can warm your emails significantly. In fact, I’ve seen response rates jump 200-300%, even with a “hard” call-to-action like, “Let’s schedule a meeting.”
So, if you’ve been struggling to write cold prospecting emails that work, check that you’re not making any of the following blunders.
- Lack of real personalization. The more the prospect sees your email as a message written just to them, the more likely they are to respond. So, you need to do your homework. You need to figure out how to break the ice with your prospect and point to a Pain Point Problem they’re facing that your solution addresses. Anything less and you’ll get few, if any, replies. (The good news is, you can do this homework in just 15 minutes.)
- Wrong writing style. Sales emails that seem template-ish, reek of corporate-speak or, worse, read like polished marketing copy, never work. Remember, this is a personal message from you to the prospect. Try this: Imagine you’re chatting with the prospect in person. Then, use that same conversational style in your email.
- Not focusing on the right “pain point” problem. Ultimately, a prospect will respond to your email because they think (hope) your solution might be the answer to a specific and immediate problem. So, you need to find out what that frustrating “pain point” is and make that the focus of your email. That’s why doing your homework is so important. (See #1.)
- Pitching instead of positioning. It can be tough to resist enthusiastically describing your product or service. But in a cold prospecting email, your aim is to position, not pitch. If you jump into presentation mode, you’ll lose the prospect. Instead, position your product/service as an idea worth considering. For example, “Customers are telling us that [insert product] is helping them to [insert results]. Are you interested in learning if you can get similar results?”
- Lack of social proof. If there is one ingredient every cold prospecting email needs it’s social proof. I’ve seen big boosts in response rates for my clients just by name-dropping a few customers, mentioning a customer success story, pointing to a number of clients (“We’ve worked with 27 companies in your industry…”), and so forth. Always add social proof.
- Being long-winded. Have you ever had a stranger come up to you and jabber non-stop? Chances are, you looked for the first opportunity to get away! In a cold prospecting email, the prospect usually doesn’t know you. You’re a stranger. So, you must keep your email short and to-the-point. Remember, a cold email isn’t a sales conversation, it’s an invitation to start one.
- Asking for too much, too soon. You need to be careful with your call-to-action. If you ask for too big a step, the prospect is unlikely to respond. However, you do need a call-to-action that measurably moves the sales conversation forward. Try this: Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and ask, “What next step makes the most sense to me in order to learn more about this solution?” Then, use that next step in your email.
There are plenty of other mistakes I’m seeing in prospecting emails, but these are the most common. Avoid them and then watch what happens. In my experience, your response rates will go up.
This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse here.