4 Dos, and 3 Don'ts, for Closing Deals Over Email
For many of us, email is a necessity—but not necessarily a strategic tool. We use it to communicate with coworkers and customers, often reactively and without much thought. Is that the case for you? If so, it’s time to change your relationship with email. There’s so much value you could be getting from it, especially in the sales process, but it requires a new mind-set and intentionality. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of closing deals with email, so you’re better armed to make email work for you and get you the results you want.
DO proofread and proofread again.
This is the simplest yet most important tip to help make a lasting impression. Time and time again we see emails come through from salespeople that have misspellings, missing words in sentences, and other grammar issues. Many recipients consider this a demonstration of a lack of attention to detail. Remember your emails are a reflection of your company’s service offerings. If you can’t get a simple email right, how is the rest of the experience going to be with your company? These days, it’s so common to be rushed, but taking a second to reread or proofread your email with something like Grammarly will be worth the effort.
DO personalize the email.
Don’t just send generic emails about what your company or service does. Briefly explain how it helps the recipient solve their actual challenges. Consider using their name, company name, job, or department titles in your pitch. Take some time to learn about what they’re actually talking about online. Get into their world and align your offerings with their goals.
DON’T use underhanded subject lines.
There are a few popular but distasteful tricks to get people to open your emails. Subject lines like “Re: next steps” might increase open rates by tricking the recipient into thinking they’re continuing a conversation. But this quickly violates trust and can actually trigger spam filters. Being sketchy and deceitful puts recipients on the defensive, while a genuine approach will always go further. For helpful tips on subject lines, the internet is your friend—just search for “subject line checker” or “best subject lines,” and you’ll find no shortage of inspiration.
DO re-engage non-responsive contacts.
Usually, when people fail to respond to one or two emails, the sender gives up. Obviously they’re not interested, so why pester them? Or, sales folks can fall on the other end of the spectrum. They send repeated emails for weeks or months, with the same messaging, pushing a future customer away by annoying or overwhelming them.
Instead, think of email in threes. Your first email should be brief but informative, with a strong call-to-action. Your second email can also be standard fare. But then, view your third email as an opportunity for humor. This, more than anything, can elicit a response.
Here’s an example:
“I haven’t heard back from you. Is it because:
(A) You’re no longer interested in our product/service?
(B) You love the service, but you don’t need anything additional at this time.
(C) You're trapped under something heavy and can’t get to your email.
If I don’t hear back, I’ll assume it’s C, and I’ll check back tomorrow.”
This gives someone potentially interested in what you have to offer an inviting—and graceful—way to jump into the conversation. Of course, if they respond and answer A or B, drop them into nurturing campaigns that align with where they are in your funnel. But even if they’re not interested, going the humorous route probably made them chuckle and think of you in a positive light. Don’t just take our email example, though; use humor that resonates with each recipient as a person or business.
DON’T be long-winded, and DO get to the point.
Email is not the place for dissertations or novels—keep it brief. It helps to use bullet points, to draw the eye to your key messages, and also to highlight or bold people’s names if you’re sending a note to multiple folks and need responses. Additionally, we’ve found that starting your email with the most important subject works best, since many people only skim an email’s opening lines before deciding whether to continue reading or not.
DO embed a scheduling link in your email.
Even though you’ve seen them everywhere, do you have a scheduling footprint in your email yet? We’re in a hyper-connected, digital-powered, videoconferencing-saturated world. People expect to be able to book meetings with you, quickly and online, and on their own terms. There’s really no excuse in a professional sales environment to not have a scheduling capability in your email. Calendly is a personal favorite and has a free option.
DON’T leave anything open-ended.
Your goal with using email strategically is to pique the interest of your recipients and ultimately close some deals. Possibly the worst thing you can do is leave things open-ended. Offer choices whenever possible, and work to make things concrete.
Also, use confirmation emails and ask for feedback or clarity/additional information. Remember to be specific by asking them something they need to answer as opposed to something general. If the person doesn’t respond, you have a valid reason for another follow-up (but remember our first tip—don’t annoy them, don’t just send the same message, ask or present things in a new way).
Email isn’t just a way we can send notes back and forth; it’s a key asset in the sales process and helps in closing more deals. Make sure you’re following best practices and avoiding the pitfalls above, and you’ll increase your response rate and success over email.
Cherryl Pressley is CEO of Black Pearl Mail, the company that transforms email into a smart digital marketing tool. Prior to this role, she spent 14 years at Microsoft in a variety of senior leadership roles, most recently leading the distribution channel to exceed triple digit cloud revenue growth and achieving over $1 billion in revenue. She is a proven and fearless leader, with more than 25 years of business experience in the technology industry.