Here are 5 tips to get you started. This assumes you've already read the parts of Predictable Revenue which go over why I've always liked the “referral” approach rather than cold calling.
(If you haven't read the book, there's a sample of the right chapters at the bottom of this article: “Why Sales People shouldn’t Prospect – An interview with Aaron Ross“)
1) Keep it SHORT & SWEET
Make it easy to read on a smartphone. Short. Sweet. To The Point. Ruthlessly cut out any words that are jargonish, confusing. Examples: words meaningless words like “leading”, “leverage”,”platform” or any TLA (three letter acronym). Cut out anything that's not useful or polite.
Tip: reading your emails out loud helps you hear where you've written bullshit. Your email should sound like a natural conversation.
Say “please”, “thank you” or whatever your version of being polite is. You can be to the point, but with a friendly feel. Manners are important.
Tip: You can't say or write 'please' too many times.
3) One simple call-to-action / no more than one question
This is similar to the short-and-sweet rule, which is make it easy for people to understand why you're emailing, and make it easy for them to take action. Ask no more than one SIMPLE question per email. “What are your top ___ pains?” is not a simple question to answer. “Who's in charge of ___” or “Are you free on Wed at ___?” are examples of simple.
Tip: You can ask questions in friendly, non-salesy ways: “what's the best way to get 10 minutes on your calendar” is friendlier & less salesy than “when can we talk for 10 minutes?”
4) Don't “sell”
Educate. Inform. Intrigue. If you're salesy at all, your emails will bomb. If you include anything about your company, one sentence may be enough, or a a short paragraph at the most. Less is more – don't go on and on about how great you and your products are. Remember, if you're using a referral approach, the people you're often emailing won't care about what you do, they're just trying to decide if and to whom they will send you on to.
Tip: People care about what the results you create, not about how you create them. “We're sales consultants” (so what?) vs. “We help companies double or triple new sales growth” (hmm that's interesting, how?)
5) Don't send too many emails
Per full-time prospecting rep, 1000-2000 emails per month should be PLENTY. If you are sending many more than that, it most likely means that a) your email templates aren't getting the response rate you want (at least 5%), or b) you too many responses falling through the cracks, and your organization system needs improving.
Tip: Writing emails that get responses is just the first step of a multi-step prospecting process. Don't lose sight of the fact that to make this predictable and scalable, you need systems in place. The most common mistake: executives too focused on demanding lots of activity & results, and ignoring the quality of them.
6) Find a great app for emailing
There are a million emailing apps for salespeople and marketers today, because the functionality built into Salesforce.com, gmail or other sales systems is usually pretty simple. For example, emails sent from Salesforce.com are rumored to be more likely to be caught in spam filters and their tracking is rudimentary (or non-existent).
Tip: My favorite for prospectors and salespeople, and what I recommend to all our consulting clients is ToutApp. They've just designed it to do exactly the kinds of prospecting and emailing we teach. Setting up an auto-series of prospecting emails, innovative tracking features, the best integration to Salesforce.com that I've seen (though you don't need Salesforce.com to use it), and neat reporting features are a few reasons I love it and why I'm excited to create some neat stuff with them, like a forthcoming Predictable Revenue Edition of Tout.
More on all of this:
Tip from the ToutApp team: We highly recommend reading Predictable Revenue to anyone from an entrepreneur, a fresh sales rep or a VP of sales. The book reads as if Aaron Ross is having a direct conversation with you. He gets to the point quickly leaving you with actionable steps and kickass takeaways.
Aaron Ross is the #1 best-selling author of Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com. His consulting company, Predictable Revenue Inc., helps companies with sales teams double or triple their growth. Before Predictable Revenue, Aaron worked at Salesforce.com, where he created a revolutionary Cold Calling 2.0 inside sales process and team that helped increase Salesforce.com’s revenues by $100 million. Aaron graduated from Stanford University. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children (with two more coming the way via adoption), loves motorcycles, and he keeps his work to 25 hours a week.