Should you send out Reminder Emails?

sending reminder emails to clientsAfter months of work, you finally scheduled an online tour or webinar with a large client. You sent him the meeting invite to his Outlook Calendar. He has accepted your invite.

The tour or webinar is tomorrow. Do you send your client an email reminder notice? Or do you just assume that he will be available tomorrow when you call and do the presentation?

There are two schools of thought about this issue –

1). Don’t send the reminder

The thought behind this is that if you send a reminder, the client may use that as an excuse to opt out. He may have second thoughts about viewing your tour. As a result, your client may send you a lame ass excuse about his cat being ill, or he has a conflict on his calendar, or he will suddenly be out-of-town tomorrow.

Not only are you a believer in the “assumption close,” but you also believe in the assumption meeting, i.e., you take the client’s word that he’s going to show up, so why give him an excuse to bail out on you. You call tomorrow and hope and pray he will pick up the phone and be available for your presentation.

2). Do send the reminder

The thought here is that by sending your client a reminder you are showing him that you a professional. Sure, you know that your meeting invite is on his Calendar. Sure, he accepted it a week ago. However, you know from experience that professionals like yourself are busy. So sending a reminder is your way of being polite.

What would I do?

I would send the reminder. Why? Because by sending him a reminder a day or so in advance you are showing professional courtesy to your client. But most important of all, you want to make sure your client is really serious about viewing your presentation. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be excited about your product or service as you are. Sure, they may tell you to send them a meeting invite to make you feel good, or to save face. But a few minutes before the presentation begins, you receive a last-minute cancellation, or without any advance warning, the client doesn’t appear at all.

In short, you have a “no show.”

We all know it takes time to prepare for a presentation. Like most salespeople,  you already have prepared a set of slides or screens shots in place, and you probably have customized your demo, e.g., adding certain benefits that you know the client will like, or addressing specific pain points that you know the client needs to resolve. But all that work takes time.

Better to know in advance if the client isn’t going to show up, so you can devote more time scheduling other appointments, prepare for other tours, or make sales calls.

And who knows – maybe your client is being honest and can’t view your presentation. No worries. You can always reschedule.

If you like my post, please check out my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Would you send out 400 emails daily to prospects?

Would you send out 400 emails daily to your prospects?

That’s exactly what an IT consulting firm in India has been doing. However, results have been mixed. First, the firm has been receiving a 40% bounce back rate. And second, the sales team has been complaining that the prospects who have responded to their emails have been weak. As a result of these problems, the firm posted an inquiry on a LinkedIn sales discussion board seeking advice.

Here is my advice –

Stop sending out 400 emails daily:

It’s one thing to send out emails if you are offering trial subscriptions to niche publications, or selling design services to marketing directors – provided that you include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your email. But when you are dealing with prospects who need complex services and products, such as IT or telecommunications employees, you are only hurting your company’s  reputation by sending so many unsolicited emails.

The more complex the sale, the more consultative you have to be with your clients. Prospects in the IT, telecommunications or similar industries are turned off by sales people – they are seeking peers and consultants, not someone who is only interested in doing product dumps.

Personalize and Customize: 

If you must feel the need to send out so many emails, try to personalize and customize each one. Sending out an email with a salutation of “Dear Sir or Madam:” isn’t going to cut it. And sending out an email with the person’s first name highlighted in a different color than the rest of your text screams “merge spam” – i.e., you are so concerned about sending out tons of emails that you don’t take the time to ensure person’s name is the same color and font as the rest of your text.

Don’t just send out emails:

Sending out a bunch of emails isn’t like throwing mud to the wall and hoping that some of it will stick. You have to be more creative. That means making cold calls, leaving voice mail messages and maybe direct marketing pieces to larger prospects. In advertising, there is an old saying that goes like this “advertise multiple ways on multiple days.” When it comes generating new business, you should be “contacting prospects in multiple ways on different days.”

For example, I know of one Northern Virginia software company that sends out at least 6 emails to the same prospects over a period of time. That’s ridiculous. You need to mix up your attempts. While studies have shown that you need to make at least 6 to 8 attempts per prospect, that doesn’t mean spamming them to death. As I mention above, use a different variety of contact methods. For example, some prospects may not respond well to emails, but may respond better by a phone call, or a direct marketing piece. Test. See what works and doesn’t work.

Selling isn’t sending out a bunch of emails. Selling is engagement. You have to be more proactive if you want to be successful.

5 Roadblocks preventing clients from receiving your emails

One of the biggest challenges of sending B2B (Business to Business) emails is ensuring that the prospect on the other end will actually receive it. With so many companies (and individuals for that matter) being flooded by emails on a daily basis, safeguards have been placed to prevent unsolicited emails from coming through.

As a marketing or sales person who wants to increase your bottom line, what are you supposed to do? Sure, you can make cold calls. Nothing wrong with that. But with voicemails, caller IDs and receptionists (gatekeepers) blocking your way, cold calling just isn’t your only option these days.

Yes, you could send direct marketing pieces. Maybe a nice card with a handwritten message enclosing your business card. Or, you could send swag like a mouse pad or magnet with your company’s contact information and logo. But there is no guarantee that your prospect will read your information much less open up the envelope.

So what to do? You must use a combination of tactics. Cold calls, Check. Leaving voicemail messages, Check. Sending direct marketing pieces, Check. And….also sending emails. Check.

Real Magnet, a marketing automation company, outlines several challenges that you face when sending emails to your prospects. In the video below, the Bethesda based company mentioned 4 hurdles we all have to overcome –

1). Too many domains – while B2C  (Business to Customers) clients only have a few major domains, e.g., aol.com or gmail.com, B2B clients have thousands of different domains. Making sure you have the right domain is a major task in itself.

2). Spam filters – even if you have the right email address with the correct domain, you still must break through spam filters. There are many spam filters on the market, including Microsoft Exchange, Barracuda and McAfee, to name just a few.

3). Capacity varies – While most B2C clients will accept emails quickly, B2B clients may have strict limitations on how many emails they will accept at a given time. This is especially true for large and popular companies that you are trying to target.

4). Message Placement – even if your email reaches the prospect, there is no guarantee that it will reach the inbox. In some cases, your email may end up in a spam or quarantine folder. I dealt with this situation firsthand; for example, even if both the prospect and I know each other, and have been speaking to one another, I would still find my emails ending up in his spam folder. After a few phone calls, the prospect would eventually adjust his server to accept my future emails.

And I will add one more problem below –

5). Using the wrong email address – It happens. We think we wrote down the correct email, but then we receive a bounce back. No worries. Just review your notes and resend the email again.

While Red Magnet is obviously promoting its own tool, I believe the video below does a great job discussing in more detail the problems we all face when sending emails.

Please watch the video below –

How to Write and Send Emails, Part 3

Sue Hershkowitz-Coore, sales trainer and coach, and author of Power Sales Writing, argues that when writing an email, you must move the focus away from you to how you will help you client.

Here is a video of an interview she gave –

Bill Caskey, from Caskey One, argues that in many cases we are in a desperate and anxious state of mind when writing emails. We need to avoid that and outlines an example of how to structure your email.

Here is his video –

How to write and send emails, Part 2

Marc Wayshak, a sales strategist, outlines his methods below for writing emails. He recommends that you keep your emails short, personalized, engaging and casual.

Below is his video –

Liz Wendling, Sales Training and Business Coach, argues that you only have 2 to 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention in your email. She recommends using eye-catching subjects, brief body and a call to action.

Here is her video –

 

How to write and send emails, Part 1

Sending and receiving emails is a fact of life in sales. If you are working in an inside sales position, you may end up spending half your time writing and responding to emails instead of making and receiving phone calls.

Before emails, some inside sales departments were almost like the boiler rooms depicted in movies where sales people would pound the phones daily, making call after call. In most cases, those days are now gone. Many clients and prospects may prefer corresponding with you by email because it saves them time, or they just don’t like talking to sales people.

sending emails in salesYou have to trust your gut when considering whether to contact your clients by email or phone. If you find that your client prefers being contacted by email, then go with that route. If he would rather talk to you over the phone, then make the call. But do what your client prefers doing, and in most cases you will be on this best side.

Some old fashion managers feel that sending emails is a waste of time, or a cop-out for shy sales people who don’t have the courage to making cold calls. I once knew someone who worked in a sales department where her manager ordered the entire sales team to stop sending out emails. They were instructed to only make outbound phone calls. He felt that making more sales calls would help increase sales. It didn’t. Within a couple of weeks, sales people were allowed to send emails again.

In he next couple of posts, I’m going to show you some YouTube videos on tips on how to write emails. In my last post on the topic, I will offer you my suggestions.

Here are some basic tips for sending and writing emails:

1). Keep your emails concise and to the point. From a sales point of view, the purpose of emails is to quickly attract your clients’ attention, get an appointment, answer any questions or concerns, and move the sales process forward. You are writing an email, not a novel.

2). Select an interesting topic for the subject line. Something eye-catching that doesn’t scream “please delete me.” For example, after meeting a prospect at a trade show, don’t mention your product or the conference name in the subject line. Why? Because your prospect is going to be bombarded with emails from other vendors. Instead, say “Great Meeting You!” in the subject line. Or, if you discussed a specific problem with your client, rather than mention your company’s name or product in the subject line, focus on the problem he is trying to resolve like “Question re: tax research” or “Still need office equipment?”

3). Use spelcheck spellcheck. Nothing says loser faster than misspelled words in an email.

4). Use a good signature format underneath your email text. Some sales people like to use short signature identification these days, like their name, title, company name and that’s it. I prefer using a long and detailed signature format that includes your name, title, company name, full address, phone number, fax number, link to your website and your email address. Why? Because it gives you more credibility in the eyes of your clients. This is especially true when you are dealing with new prospects. The more information you provide upfront about yourself, the more comfortable you make a prospect feel about you. In their eyes, you have nothing to hide and may be a trustworthy sales person to deal with. As the old saying goes, trust is the building block for building good long-term relationships.

5). Avoid trite or cliché openings. Forget saying “I hope this email finds you well.” or “I hope you are doing well,” or “I hope you had a good weekend.”  Just get right to the point and state the business of your email. Clients are busy.

6). Don’t copy everyone and their mother. No one wants to have their inbox cluttered with a lot of copied email that doesn’t apply to them, or has minimal interest or value to them. Target your emails specifically to the people you are dealing with. They will be glad you did.

7). Use hyperlink. Using hyperlinks saves space and looks nicer when sending an email. Instead of copying and pasting an entire URL of one of your company’s products and dropping it in the text, just hyperlink it in your email. It looks more professional.

8). Focus on the client, not yourself. As I mentioned earlier, clients don’t care about you – they care about their problems. Don’t ramble on about all the great benefits of your product. Instead, target your email specifically to the client’s needs and concerns.

9). Skip the jargon. While you may think you are impressing the client with your business or industry jargon, he may not always understand what you are saying. However, as a rule of thumb, if a client uses jargon in his emails to you, mimic him and use the same jargon back to him. This way the client will feel that he is communicating with a peer or expert and not just another sales person. (However, just make sure you know what the jargon actually means so that you don’t embarrass yourself).

10). Have a goal in mind. What is the purpose of sending your email? Is it to begin a conversation with a new prospect? Are you trying to restart the sales process because you haven’t heard back from your client in months? Do you want him to trial your service? Do you want him to watch a demo?

11). Try to offer value. When it came to writing emails, we had an old saying at one of my previous jobs –“would you pay a dollar for your email?” Meaning, you should try to offer real value in your correspondence. That value could include sending a white paper, case study or interesting article that would apply to your client’s needs and industry. But whatever you do, please don’t write “I’m just checking in” – because you might as well write “I want to waste your time because I have nothing better to do right now.” Clients are busy. If you have nothing of value to offer clients, don’t waste their time.

The purpose of using email is to move the selling process along. Use it wisely, and you will be successful.

photo credit: kristiewells via photopin cc