How to Write the Perfect Prospecting Email
So, you’ve spotted that perfect business or client for your brand. Your values align, they have a great USP, and you’re sure you know how a collaboration between you both could spark fireworks. But how do you tell them that?
At the core of B2B communications is the action of prospecting. This is something we will talk about a lot here, so If you’re new to this and have no idea what we’re talking about - no problem. However you classify your prospecting skills, we’re here to help.
Prospecting is at the very start of your purchasing funnel. This is the very first process in B2B communications, and has been aptly described by Shopify as “the first step in the sales process, which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects”. This describes the nitty-gritty… getting all the information on surrounding businesses, to figure out if you can work together.
Whilst there are a lot of stages to the process of prospecting, and lots of styles you can adopt to complete this process, there is always one main goal: to identify, develop and maintain relationships between ideal clients for your business.
Now you may be thinking, I don’t need to approach customers… they come to me! Well, that’s great. If this is you, you could think of prospecting as a bit of insurance. It’s always great to scope out new business partners and opportunities just in case those opportunities dry up.
Plus, open rates on B2B communications are notoriously low. Campaign Monitor suggested that B2B communications only have an open rate of just 15.1%. Pretty demoralising, right? This could be for a number of reasons which we will go into later... (stay tuned for our series on our top prospecting mistakes to avoid… hint hint). But, for now, let’s get you kitted-out to writing that perfect prospecting email. Let’s tell you how to do all the right things!
Think of this as a little handbook. Here are some golden rules to get you going...
Let’s break this down and make this as easy as possible.
Keep it brief and simple
You know how it is. Your inbox is swamped, your to-do list is as long as your arm, and you’ve got four meetings this afternoon, all of which… let’s be honest, could be condensed into an email. Time is valuable. The last thing anyone wants is a rambling email from every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to sell them something they don’t need. Or, they might need… but will never know, because you’ve hidden that information somewhere in the essay you’ve just sent them.
So, make sure your email is brief and to-the-point. Tell them who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. How can you add value? This is what they really need to know. Give them a simple and easy instruction. Avoid open questions - don’t give them any work to do.
Side note - simple means avoid all that unnecessary business and product jargon.
Lastly, end with a call to action to make the process as streamlined as possible.
Show your confidence in your business and/or product - being able to sell yourself in a short and succinct email is a really impressive feat. So Pro even found that the best prospecting emails are generally 100-250 words. Does that put things in perspective?
Make it personal
Again, businesses get hundreds of emails a day. Many of which are sent to spam, left unread or just pretty much ignored. Remember that 15% statistic?
This is why perfecting your subject line (more on this later) and a personable approach is absolutely vital.
A personable approach is so important in making your client feel valued, seen and appreciated. No one wants to be contacted by blanket call-outs, and this approach is probably the main reason as to why B2B communications go largely ignored.
Tell the client why you want to work with them, what drew you to their business. We can assure you this will spark their attention.
Need some inspiration to keep it personal?
- Direct them by name. Did we mention our template includes the ability to direct our communications by name… automatically? Pretty cool.
- Mention a scheme, award or campaign of theirs.
- Let them know how you found them.
- What do you like about their business? Tell them.
Do your research
This leads on pretty nicely from the previous golden rule. Please, please do your research. Not only does this ensure the prospect takes you and your proposition seriously and shows again that you care about the client - it is glaringly obvious when this hasn’t been done.
Plus, how would you know whether you even want to work with this prospect without having done your research first?
Insert some of their impressive statistics and achievements, reference points of common interest and big-up your prospect. They’ll notice the effort that’s gone into it.
Want to get a response? Of course you do. One major error many people make is sending their prospecting emails towards the end of the week.
Send your all important initial email on a friday and you’re pretty much sending your business to the bottom of their inbox - all the emails from the weekend and busy Monday morning will be addressed before yours, and before you know it, forgotten.
We advise you to send these out mid-week, ideally Tuesday or Wednesday, to give the prospect time to consider and reply before the end of the week. Simple but effective.
Don’t push it
Finally, as mentioned before, there are many different stages to prospecting, which we’re going to cover in the next section, but stay with us for this final golden rule. In the initial stages, it’s really important not to be that pushy salesman everyone knows and hates.
Don’t use forceful language, don’t present any pressure for them to make a decision immediately, and definitely do not pester.
Stages of prospecting
As the name suggests, this is the first email you send. Try and keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate!
It’s really important to also ensure you don’t give too much away. Give the prospect enough information to get them interested, and that’s it.
Plus, what would you tell them in the follow up if you lay all your cards on the table now?
So it’s been a couple days and you haven’t heard anything. Don’t worry, no need to panic yet.
It’s important to get the balance right between nagging and chasing, and politely reminding. This is why, as suggested above, avoiding Friday’s is particularly advantageous. If you email someone on a Friday and wait 3 days… it’s still, only Monday, and they most probably haven’t had a chance to even take a look at their inbox yet.
We like to work with the three day rule. Contact on a Monday? Follow up on a Wednesday.
Think about your timings, too. Sending an email at 9am - whilst getting it out the way for you, probably just means that your message will join the queue with the rest of their waiting emails. Try 11am, when they’ve had a chance to grab their morning coffee, clear their emails and have a bit of a breather.
Lead Generation and Conversion
There is so much we could say about lead generation and conversion that we’re going to save that for another post. But this part is pretty much the aim of prospecting: you want to get all your prospects to this stage in the funnel.
Lead generation refers to the creation of leads (aka clients) through research, networking and contacting. Prospecting emails are one area of lead generation, as your aim with this email is to generate a lead. Simple, right?
Shortly after this, if your lead generation tactics are up to scratch and your prospecting email goes down well, you’re at the next step: conversion. This describes the process of converting a lead into a client through the onboarding of them within your business.
This is the end goal!
So, taking into account everything we’ve said, let’s map out an effective structure:
We know that earlier we told you to avoid questions. This isn’t strictly true… sorry. But we did say open questions, so we didn’t entirely lie.
The art of the rhetorical question when prospecting is not one that should be slept on. Powerful and thought provoking, if you haven’t already been using these when communicating with prospective clients, you’ve really been missing out on
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to your subject line, because this depends on your business type, but here’s a bit of inspiration…
- Want to grow your client base but don’t have the resources to do so?
- Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, [insert name here]?
- Feeling out of control when it comes to your finances?
This can be quickly followed up with an imperative, outlining why the prospect should read on and how you can add value, such as…
- We’re here to help.
- You’ve come to the right place.
- Check this out.
This structure is quick, to the point and grabs your readers attention instantly. Let’s try to get that 15% open rate up.
Introduce yourself, what you do, and how you found them. This doesn’t really need to be a paragraph, maybe a sentence or two.
But, it’s good not to use large chunks of text that will only overwhelm the reader, so try and split your email up where you can.
How can you help this prospect? What are you offering? Why do you think this would be beneficial for them and add value to their business?
Note - don’t go into too much detail here. You may be tempted to write an essay to prove how much knowledge you have on the subject. Do not fall into this trap.
Not only are you giving the game away instantly, you’re going to bore them. Remember, simple and brief.
Here’s where your call-to-action comes in. Let them know your contact details and give them clear, simple instructions. Make the process as easy as possible.
Don’t worry, if you’re still struggling, we’ve got plenty more advice on our blog, and offer templates, expert advice and resources galore. You’re in the right place.
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Here at Outbase, we offer prospecting templates that harness our industry knowledge to provide the most informative, results-driven resources and assistance that we can. With years of experience between our friendly team, we have a wealth of knowledge to provide you the tools you need to easily map your market and connect with businesses and individuals that want to speak to you.