When it comes to lead generation, prospecting customers, and a successful sales process, there’s not a lot that is more important than getting your introductory sales email right. It’s your initial communication with your potential customer, but also your one shot to give a good first impression. And as we all know, first impressions matter.
There are several commonly-used phrases that intentionally kill any chance of a positive relationship, even if it isn’t your goal.
Who would be the best person to talk to at your company?
Firstly, don’t start any communication with: “Who would be the best person to talk to at your company?” This implies you haven’t put any research in yourself to the best person to speak with. Given the wealth of information available online nowadays, there’s no excuse for laziness. It’s fairly quick to find the name, at the very least, of who you need to address and what their responsibilities are. If you absolutely can’t find anything, ring their office number and ask the receptionist, or whoever answers, if they can tell you. This shows you aren’t just blindly emailing everybody you can find, but have actually taken the time to demonstrate a genuine interest in them and their company.
To whom it may concern
In a similar vein, avoid starting your email with “To whom it may concern”. Numerous studies have found that an email that has been personalized will have a much higher open rate (and response rate) than one which feels as though it is going out to thousands of people. It is always best to personalize, as this further goes to show you have done your research, but also makes the recipient feel as though you are talking directly to them.
I know your time is valuable, however…
Another thing to avoid discussing is time… phrases such as “I know your time is valuable, however…” or “Sorry, if I have wasted your time”, are no-nos. In putting this sort of thought into people’s minds, you are implying that what you’re about to tell them, or what you have already told them, is not worthy of their time. People will read emails that make them feel as though they are investing their time wisely, so don’t turn them off from the outset. You need to be providing them with value and interest, but also be confident in what you are reaching out to them about. Believe in yourself, and they will too.
If I could just have a few seconds of your time…
Additionally, avoid phrases such as “If I could just have a few seconds of your time…” – nothing good has miraculously occurred in two or three seconds. This isn’t valuable or useful. If your product or service is good, you will need longer and they will be prepared to give it. Don’t be scared of asking for half an hour of their time (although anything longer will put people off) to speak with them properly.
Asking them in the first email if they’re available for a free demo
It’s also best to avoid asking them in the first email if they’re available for a free demo today/tomorrow/this week, etc. It can end up making the recipient feel as though you are forcing them into a sales process too quickly, and they may not have even considered if it is right for them. You need to allow the prospective customer time to decide whether they want a demonstration, and when the time is right for them. This will happen naturally once you have built a relationship with them, they are able to understand your product and what value it can bring, and they are genuinely curious to learn more.
Mentioning your competitors in your introductory email
In your introductory email, it is best to avoid mentioning your competitors and what makes you different. Why start talking about the people they ‘could’ work with instead of you? You need to be getting them interested solely in your product, not a competitor. They may not have even heard of who you are talking about, so you could be directing them to another business and doing their advertising for them. For a strong email, it is best to consider your own USPs only.
Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity
Phrases that feel obviously sales-y are also best to leave out. Things such as “Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity”, “For a limited time only” or “This offer won’t last forever”. Although in some instances putting time frames on the sales process can help to drive people towards spontaneous or faster decisions, often your buyer isn’t in any hurry and will just ignore the offer if they think they’re going to miss it. This could see you lose potential customers, even though you are still able to offer whatever you’re selling after this offer period. People don’t like feeling pushed into buying decisions, as it makes them feel as though they have been rushed. They may also start looking for other companies to see if they are willing to work to their own time-frames. Sure, there are times and places for offers and incentives, but your introductory email isn’t one of them.
Hello, my name is XX and I work at XX…
Finally, other things to avoid include sounding boring or dull from the outset. Leading with phrases like “Hello, my name is XX and I work at XX…” are just some of these. Imagine you were meeting someone at a networking event for the first time – if you opened with this kind of phrase, you’d sound very stuffy and formal. People probably wouldn’t connect with you easily. It also sounds like the opening to a cold email. It’s important to try and build a rapport with your potential customer, without veering too much into the casual territory where you don’t sound professional anymore. They’re only human, after all, so speak to them as though they are. You’ll have a much greater chance of success.