4 Terrible Ways to Start a Sales Email

As a Chief Marketing Officer, I get a lot of sales emails… I mean, A TON. Mostly unsolicited, cold sales outreaches. And, WOW – there are so many terrible ways to start a sales email. 

One thing about working in marketing is that every marketing asset I see or pass gets quickly analyzed. I have a habit of seeing an ad, commercial or email and immediately a swarm of questions piques my curiosity. What was the goal? Where is their offer? Why them? Will I remember this? What’s the CTA? 

So, let’s analyze some cold outreaches together! As we are coming close to the end of the year, I’ve compiled 4 themes of bad sales emails you should steer clear of in the New Year:

4 Sales Email Mistakes You Can Avoid

The Faux – Fan: 

This email may look fine, but the disconnect is humorous. The one thing about sales is the second you lose someone’s trust, it is much more difficult to build it back. You’re a complete stranger to your recipient, and if you don’t immediately come off as a genuine, high-integrity person – your emails probably won’t be opened much more. 

The faux-fan is a personal favorite of mine because you get to truly see if the person reaching out did their homework or not. And, when they do – they immediately stand out from the other hundreds of sales emails received. However, in this email – the person claims they have been “keenly following” what we are doing as a company. Yet, they are asking if we are still in the office? Truly, if they had been keenly following what we are doing then they would know we are a mainly virtual company with a collaborative space that the team pops in and out of. It’s not a secret, it’s all over our social media! 

THE FIX: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. It may take 5-minutes to double check, but it could save you a lead. If this salesperson showcased that they truly have been following what Adapting Social is doing, it would have been much easier to form a relationship with them and some curiosity into what they are selling. Be sure to add the details! 

The Flattery Attempt

While being a CMO isn’t new to me after all these years, being invited to exclusive events still makes me feel special. So, while this sales email hooked me in with flattery, I wasn’t quite sold on the execution. Remember, it’s all in the details, and no detail is too small. 

This email goes on to compliment Adapting Social, however, it comes off as very cold in a cold outreach email. Ironic, huh? This email translates to me as “I am looking to get more attendees for a webinar and didn’t do any specific research about your company but am going to go with the full-blown flattery sales tactic to cover that fact up”. 

THE FIX: If you’re going to compliment a company, at least share some specific details. In the email shared above, I would have been more interested if the sender made one quick note referencing how we explain our work. Or, the conclusion from “honing the art of Adapting Social”… whatever that means. If one of our portfolio pieces, blogs, case studies, social media profiles – ANYTHING specific to us was mentioned, this email would have gotten a reply. 

The FOMO Creator  

There are a few tactics I really appreciate in the sales and marketing realm. Creating FOMO is definitely one of them! Influencer marketing has helped to prove that consumer purchasing decisions are so easily influenced. Especially by their peers, coworkers, mentors or anyone they aspire to be really. So, when I get a sales email pushing that “fear of missing out” concept – I entertain it – IF it is done the right way. 

The issue here is that the email is so generalized, it doesn’t give me the itch to want to learn more. This email translated to me as “Hey I am sending another email to your inbox because one team member of the many in your company visited my website”. 

THE FIX: As a great mentor of mine taught me to think, “So What, Now What?”. Why does the recipient care that someone visited your website? Add the offer, the value add, the x-factor your website offers and the potential reason someone would be visiting it. THEN, I’ll entertain your request.

The “Quick” Question

Ahhh, this one is a double-whammy. The “Quick Question” subject line followed by the punch of “I’m sure you’re busy”. A traditional, and slightly overplayed sales tactic that encourages the recipient to open the email because there is a question lingering. Then, only to find out it is not in fact a “quick” question. Followed by the bump to the top of the inbox. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; I appreciate a good follow up. Especially one with meaning. But, to just say “I’m sure you’re busy, wanted to bump this up” basically translates to “I know you’re busy and didn’t read my first underwhelming sales email so let me flood your inbox again without telling you why you actually need my product”. 

THE FIX: Be specific! Paint the picture. If the person you are reaching out to is busy, how is your product going to help save them time and energy? Share those details in your outreach. And please, come up with something a little more creative than “Quick Question” for a subject line. 

Email is one of the most effective ways to spark a conversation, so it’s important to be aware of sales email mistakes. If you’re guilty of any of these poor sales email habits, don’t worry! We live and we learn. And, if for some reason you didn’t, we have an entire team of marketing experts that are here to help. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest marketing trends and tips. You’ll start your New Year off on the right foot – with fewer bounced emails and more conversions.

Megan Gianvito

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