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7 things sales reps are doing wrong with email outreach

By Myriah Anderson

7 things sales reps are doing wrong with email outreach

I’m going to get real with you for a moment: Times are tough, especially if you’re in sales. 

It might feel at times that you have the weight of the organization on your shoulders; that it’s up to you to make sure you’re keeping the lights on for the business and that you and your fellow colleagues have a job. 

Each email you send out, each phone call you make impacts the revenue you’re able to help bring to the company, which is why it’s incredibly important to know if the emails you’re sending to prospects are helping you or hurting you. 

Are you confident in your sales email game?

Here are seven things that I’ve seen come through my inbox that sales reps are consistently doing wrong with email.

🔎 IMPACT+ course: Digital communication techniques for 1-to-1 sales emails and conversations

1. Emails are too wordy

We all have pretty short attention spans. In fact, research shows that a person has an average of an eight-second attention span. This makes reading through emails (unless we are genuinely interested) really difficult. 

More times than not, I see sales emails come through that are walls of information. 

Now, I know the sender likely has the best intentions when putting it together. In fact, you might be thinking to yourself, “I do this too to make sure I can get as much information across as possible while I have their attention.” 

You might also be trying to provide extra information to cast a wide enough net and hope something you said will stick. 

But instead of you reeling the person in with your well thought out novel, you’re turning them off. 

You need to be writing emails in a way that can be skimmable. With attention spans so short, people don’t spend time reading through every word, which means you need to find a way to help someone read your content in the most digestible way possible. 

When trying to make your emails more concise, read through and ask yourself: 

  • Does the prospect need this information right now, or is it something I can bring up if the conversation is continued at a later time?
  • Is what I’m saying valuable information to the prospect, or more self-serving?
  • Do I have any filler or fluff words that can be removed? 

If you go through this exercise and you still have a somewhat lengthy email and there is nothing more you can take out, consider bolding the most important pieces, but we’ll go into another tactic shortly that can help you condense your emails down immensely. 

You’ll want to stay tuned. 

2. There is no clear call-to-action (or too many) 

When you’re crafting your email communication, are you planning out the appropriate call-to-action? What is it that you want the prospect to do after the email? 

If your immediate response is, well I don’t clearly spell it out, you aren’t being strategic. 

You need to be clear about exactly what you want the prospect to do next or else what was the point of emailing them in the first place?

Don’t assume they’ll know the next step to take and make sure that whatever that step is, that it is appropriate for where they are in their buyer’s journey.

Is this the first time that you’re communicating with your prospect? Are they unfamiliar with your company/services? Is your email providing educational information to help them with the pain point to begin building trust and credibility? 

Use that opportunity to encourage them to consume the content you’re providing and be very clear about the value they will get from doing so. 

If your prospect is at the stage where they are ready to speak with someone at your company even consider adding a call-to-action where they can book a time directly on your calendar. 

Here is an example of what the call-to-action features looks like in Vidyard

But what about the other end of the spectrum? What if the issue is you have too many things you want them to do?

Providing too many next steps could be one of the reasons your email is too lengthy, but could also lead to lower click-throughs purely because it was incredibly confusing for the prospect to know what to do next. 

I’m sure your thoughts behind including more than one call-to-action is that you want to provide all the steps so they can self select the one they are most comfortable with at the time, but instead, be strategic. 

Break up the messages and be mindful about what emails and actions prospects are getting and when. 

Make sure you are aware where the prospect is in the journey and segment them accordingly so the message match is there. This will make your outreach more effective and more likely to earn more clicks. 

3. Emails are not customer-focused

One of the quickest ways to turn off a prospect is to talk about yourself. 

People are interested in getting value, being educated, and building a relationship before committing to a purchase. In fact, going for the sale right away without building trust can be a turn off for many people and the quickest way to have your email deleted.

In fact, 71% of buyers/readers say they were turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch. 

Instead of trying to sell right away, consider finding a way that you can help educate and then determine from there when the right time is to talk about how you can help them through your product or service.

How can you best educate your prospect? Utilize the content your marketing team has created for you that you know would be helpful for your prospect and their particular pain points. 

4. Subject line isn’t optimized

Subject lines are critically important. In fact, many sales professionals say one of their biggest issues with bringing in sales is getting prospects to even open or engage with their emails in the first place. 

There are two common issues when it comes to sales email subject lines: they are either are a bait and switch and have nothing to do with the content inside the email (which ticks people off) or they’re flat too boring for the recipient to open an email from someone they don’t know. 

So, this should be a starting point of optimizing your email efforts. 

One of the things you can do that is almost guaranteed to help increase your sales email open rate is to use the word “video” in the subject line. 

Doing this has proven to increase open rates from 7% to 13% on average according to SwitchVideo

Try taking your best performing subject lines and adding [video] at the end of it or consider saying “[Contacts name], I created this 60-second video message for you” or “Check out this 60-second video message inside!”

But of course, you can only do this if there’s actually a video in your email, which brings me to point #5.

5. You don’t have a personalized video included 

One of the best ways for you to stand out amongst all the other stale, un-engaging sales emails is to create a personalized video

Personalized video allows the person watching to see, hear, and get to know you on a more human level, even if you have never spoken before. This builds trust and trust is the biggest factor needed to close business

Personalized video also allows you to convey your message in a stronger, more catered way. Think about if you could see a video of the person sending you a sales email versus just getting a text-based message. 

With the video, you know they took the time to make this specifically for you, you’d probably be a bit more willing to listen.

This also makes the emails you’re creating more digestible. Instead of having too much text, you can break it up by taking most of what you want to say in text, and putting it into the video. 

Sales reps are beginning to do more personalized videos in their sales communication since COVID-19 hit, but there are still far and few between who are not doing it which will allow you to stand out amongst your competition. 

6. Not including questions

How do you feel when you go to a party (during non-COVID times, of course), are having a conversation with a new person, and that person goes on and on about themselves and at no point asks you any questions about yourself? 

Probably pretty annoyed. 

Well, this is how your sales emails are coming across if you aren’t taking the time to open a dialogue by asking open-ended questions. 

Open-ended questions leave room for sharing and deeper discussion and, most importantly, encourage a response. 

If you want to get a prospect to open up to you and begin to trust you, you’re going to have a much easier time by asking this type of question than speaking AT them..

And don’t feel that you need to complicate it. 

Keep things short and sweet and get right to the point with a question that can help you get to know them and their needs better. 

Are there questions you ask on sales calls that typically gets you into a deep discussion? 

Try asking a question that is tied to an interest of theirs or a pain point like.

Some questions I might ask specific to a prospect I’d reach out to would be: 

Where is your sales team struggling with video in the sales process?

How are you adapting your in-person sales process to virtual?

7. You’re not taking advantage of your thumbnail real estate

For those who are using personalized video in your sales emails (and those who are now interested in jumping on the bandwagon), it’s critical that you think through how your video thumbnail can work for you and not against you. 

You want to avoid having your video thumbnail just be an animated GIF of you waving hello. First off, it’s self serving and the person on the other end if this is early on in the sales process doesn’t know who you are. Secondly, there are many other ways you can be strategic and take advantage of your thumbnail real estate.

Instead, consider using a whiteboard or a piece of paper and writing out a question that is tied to your prospect’s pain point, and include their name. 

Just make sure that what you put on the whiteboard is connected to what you are talking about in your video. You can also consider having the prospect’s website or LinkedIn page pulled up, which is a feature many personalized video tools have. 

Here are some examples: 

Notice how I am not the focus of these, but the customer or the message to them is. 

In addition to avoiding a bland thumbnail, you also want to avoid showing your own website or product. Your thumbnail should put the focus on the prospect. This will help them know you took the time to create the video specifically for them; It isn’t just some wide net you’re casting. 

Now that you know what not to do...

Being in sales isn’t easy, especially right now, which is why I’m hoping these seven things will help you strengthen your sales communication game. 

They are small things that, if changed, can make a large impact when it comes to helping you get more sales email build trust, and ultimately, stand out in a competitive environment. 

If you’re interested in diving deeper into how you can begin using personalized video in your sales process, make sure to check out my two courses: 

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Inbound Sales
Published on August 13, 2020

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