What the [bleep] are you emailing your prospects?

by Will Rotondi

Prospecting is full of swearing. Sometimes it’s silent, when you’re cursing the heavens that no one wants to talk with you. Sometimes it’s out loud, when prospects are vocal about their disinterest. When you reach out through email, you’re guaranteed to receive a colorful phrase or two that essentially means “no, thanks.”

While most seasoned sales professionals are used to it as an occupational hazard, cursing also seems to have become more widely accepted in our culture. Studies even show that those who swear are more likely to be honest, and are more likely to have a wider vocabulary. Because it’s accepted, it’s also seen as an authentic way that others talk.

Authenticity is an aspect to email prospecting that you could be overlooking.

I’m certainly not advocating that you cuss at your prospects, but I hope that you don’t doctor up your language so much that you sound like a textbook instead of a real person. When you’re writing to them, do you ever read out loud what you’ve written? Does it flow naturally and make sense? Most importantly, does it sound like how you’d speak? The more authentic you come across, the more likely your prospects will respond. If your message reads like ad copy, they’ll assume they just got a mass email – just like the 42 other ones they probably have sitting in their inbox right now.

You don’t need flowery language or sales jargon, either. When in doubt:

  • Keep your writing brief. “Hi, I’d like to talk about x at your company. Are you the best person for this discussion?”
  • Don’t capitalize the first letter of every word in your subject. Save that for the title of your dissertation.
  • Contractions are okay to use. You can say “can’t” instead of “cannot” without causing a rift in the space/time continuum.
  • Keep your focus on one subject. Don’t ask too many questions or try to tell the whole story of why you’re reaching out. In order to have a conversation, your prospects need to have a reason to ask you questions.
  • Think about how you’d speak to your ideal prospects if you ran into them in real life. This could be whether it’s about shop talk, or just shootin’ the sh— er, breeze.

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