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 that a collaboration could spark fireworks. But how do you tell them that?
At the core of B2B marketing, of finding new clients, is prospecting. This is something we talk about a lot here: it’s what we’re all about, and we’ve spent years perfecting our tech and processes. If you’re new to prospecting and the word makes you think more of the gold rush than B2B sales, we’re here to help guide you and improve those lead rates.
Sales prospecting is at the very start of your purchasing funnel. We’ve previously described it as “the process of identifying and engaging with potential buyers. By understanding your target market, you can focus on the channels most likely to connect with decision-makers and begin sales conversations with them.”.
This covers the groundwork of getting information on relevant businesses, to figure out if you can sell to them, and the outreach of a campaign.
While there are a lot of other stages to prospecting, and lots of styles you can adopt to complete this process, there is always one main goal: to identify, develop and maintain relationships with 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 a good idea to have diverse avenues of obtaining new customers.
Prospecting email tips
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. But for now, let’s get you kitted out to write the perfect prospecting email.
Think of this as a little handbook. Here are some hard-won tips we’ve worked out from years of trial and error.
Keep it brief and simple
Imagine yourself as one of your potential customers. 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 you want is a rambling email from someone you’ve never heard of trying to sell you something you don’t need. Or actually, that you might very much need… but will never know, because they’ve hidden the key information somewhere in the essay you’ve just sent received.
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.
- Avoid open questions – don’t give them any work to do.
- Avoid all that unnecessary business and product jargon.
- End with one single call to action. Give them a simple and easy instruction.
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. Research shows the best prospecting emails are generally 100-250 words. So we really do mean short.
Make it personal
A personal approach is so important in making your client feel valued, seen and appreciated. No one wants to be contacted by a mass email, and this approach is probably the main reason why B2B communications go largely ignored.
With some clever personalisation variables (see here for a list of the default Outbase variables) you can write emails that feel as if you sat down and hand wrote to this exact person.
- Use their name – and mix your use of full name or first name only
- Use informal greetings – like “morning”
- Mention the day of the week “Hope you’re having a great Thursday!”
- Mention their industry – this can show what you can do for companies like them “We’ve worked with others in the media space to…”
Do your research or use great data
This leads on pretty nicely from the previous tip. If you are prospecting manually, on a small scale, you can research each and every prospect and write them a handwritten note menitoning specific details about their business (delivered by carrier pigeon, to really stand out).
If you are doing something bigger than selling homemade jam from your garage, you may need to think buigger. And this is where the data comes in.
With accurate B2B data, you can laser target the companies that you know fit your ideal customer profile. Using a choice of different filters, you can make sure you only contact companies who you can help, and who are more likely to want your help.
Find the best time
Remember that 15% open rate? One of the ways you can improve it is to find the best time to send your emails.
Do your research (there are plenty of studies online on this subject), and monitor your own results to see when you get the best open rates.
Different industries see better open rates at different times, so don’t assume that a blanket “Mondays at 11 am” stat found online is right for you.
As with a lot of aspects of prospecting, you should aim for a test and learn midset.
Don’t push it
There are many stages to prospecting, which we’re about to cover in the next section, but this tip is one to keep in mind throughout each stage.
It’s important to not be that pushy salesman everyone knows and hates.
Don’t overload with information, listing out every feature of your amazing product.
Don’t use forceful language, don’t present any pressure for them to make a decision immediately, and definitely do not pester.
Remember our first tip – keep it simple. Tell them who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.
Stages of prospecting
As the name suggests, this is the first email you send.
Following on from our previous point, don’t be pushy. Give the prospect enough information to get them interested, and have a call to action.
Ask for a call, a meeting, offer a demo – something to take their interest fufurther – whatever works for you. Again, you might want to test what gets the best results here.
So it’s been a few 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.
Our years of experience have shown us that six working days works best for us. First contact on a Monday? Sned a chaser email on the following Tuesday.
This gives them enough time to consider things, and possibly even forget you. When you appear in their inbox again, it’s just a friendly reminder of your offer to help – you know they are busy, after all.
By making it six working days, you aren’t always emailing on the same day. This avoids two problems – looking automated, and missing those people who don’t work Monday – Friday.
You’ve sent your intial intro, and a couple of follow ups.
Nothing is happening, despite your best efforts and following all the above advice.
The final email can be a time to try somethign different. Add some humour, acknowledge you might be barking up the wrong tree, and let them know this is your break up email – you won’t bother the anymore.
Hopefully, a different approach, and a note to say this is the final email, may nudge them into responding.
So, taking into account everything we’ve said, let’s map out an effective structure:
We’ve mentioned that industry standard of 15% open rates a coulpe of times now, but the Outbase global average is almost double that, at 29%.
As well as the timings of an email send, the subject line is crucial in getting more people to open those emails. Test different lines to see if you can drive better results.
Here are a few nuggets we’ve discoverd that should help you start:
- Aim for five to 10 words (although a super short two word subject line can work sometimes)
- Use you or yours, or mention the name of your own company!
- Use questions
- Include an air of mystery – something that makes them want to know more
Introduce yourself and what you do.
This doesn’t need to be a paragraph, maybe a sentence or two. But in order to not overwhelm the reader, and to make the email scannable, split your email up into short lines.
How can you help this prospect? What are you offering? Why do you think this would be beneficial for them and 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.
Remember, simple and brief.
Here’s where your call-to-action comes in. Let them know how to progress the conversation – call, meeting, demo – and give them clear, simple instructions. Make the process as easy as possible.
That’s it for our prospecting email tips. If you’re still struggling to see results, you’re in the right place.
Outbase has a team of expert writers who specialise in prospecting temapltes. They harness our expertise to provide templates that get results. With years of experience between our friendly team, we have a wealth of knowledge to connect you with businesses and individuals that want to speak to you.
Outbase is powerful B2B sales prospecting you control.
Fancy a free month? Here’s the link: https://outbase.com
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