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5 Deadly Email Prospecting Mistakes You're Probably Making

Forster Perelsztejn author on Overloop the sales engagement, cold email, and LinkedIn automation software blog
Forster Perelsztejn Sep 25, 201710 min read

We love email prospecting. We're even building a company based on it.

And in doing so, we've seen some pretty good work. And also some terrible stuff.

But the good thing is that we managed to get some insight out of it.

Here are the top 5 mistakes you can make while prospecting!

1. Writing too much

They don't know you and they're probably busy.

You need to keep it short: display only necessary information. You'll have all the time you want to discuss details further down the road if you manage to hook them up with the first email.

What you should include (preferably in that order):

  1. Why you're writing to them (1 sentence)
  2. Why you're writing to them (1 or 2 sentences)
  3. What's in it for them (1 sentence)
  4. What your company does and why they should trust you (1 or 2 sentences)
  5. Call to action/hook (1 sentence)

This is about 7 sentences, which you can pack into 5. If you have more than 8, you’re probably doing something wrong.

Salesfolk's Heather Morgan goes into details on how to write attention span efficient emails!

2. Sounding like a salesperson

*BANG* you're dead

If you start off by talking about your product - dead: no one cares about your product -yet.

If you're too formal - dead: you don't sound half as intelligent as you think you do. But you do sound formal and stiff.

People hate being sold to. So drop the cheap suit and the salesperson act and start conversing like a human being. Build a connection like you would in real life: "Hi, I'm X, I really like your blog! I've already worked with companies like yours, how do you guys take care of X…"

SalesScripter CEO and sales expert Michael Halper wrote an article about how not to sound like a salesperson but rather like a business person.

Be human.

3. Failing to personalize

Only including their name as the beginning and mentioning their company somewhere in the email probably won't cut it. Just mentioning some of their customers can have a huge impact because it'll show you've put some effort into researching them. And yes, you can automate that task. Overloop, for example, has custom fields you can fill out than allow you to email a larger number of prospects with precise info like names of their customers, a link to a blog post that you think was worth mentioning or anything else that might be relevant.

Any current relevant cold email tool can help you automate that.

What if you need to email 2000 prospects?

We'll, I'd say… email less prospects and personalize more.

But it's still possible to personalize emails to a very large list.

You might, however, need more than 1 email. But hey, 5 -or even 10- is better than 2000, right?

Segment your prospects following various criteria: country, industry, job title or any custom field that might be related to your audience. For example, if you target car salespeople, you can segment them by brand.

If you can email someone and mention their work within a specific industry, with certain brand, in a certain country, you might have a pretty recent reply rate.

We already talked on this blog about the fact that someone starting in a new position might be more receptive to be pitched.

To quote sales expert Chris Ortolano:

Filtering prospecting activity based on company signals such as new hires, new products, partnerships, expansions and more. Timely response to company signals can lead to more relevant decision-making conversations, especially if both timing and need are present.

Also, be audacious! On the SellingPower blog, Stu Heinecke dives into how audacity and a high level of personalization can bring you a 100% contact rate, check it out!

4. Neglecting to add obvious value

'How we sell is a sample of how we solve, and prospects are sampling our value on each and every encounter.'

Those incredibly wise words come from sales expert James Muir and should guide each and every sales interactions.

It's not always possible to know your prospects' deepest needs. Hell, that's the very reason why you're emailing them!

However, you can still provide value that will, one way or another, help alleviate their pains. Make an educated guess and fffer them free content, a free assessment of their website, free templates… Here's the point: it must be free and highly valuable.

Tamara Schenk, research director at at CSO Insights wrote in an in-depth article that you should resort to "value hypotheses". Those hypotheses are used to address your prospect's current pains and encourage them to make change for the better.

That means they need to learn something new that helps them to understand the real impact of their current problem. Also, they should learn how they could solve the issue and what results they could achieve.

Case studies, success stories, referrals and research are perfect ingredients to deliver these messages, as they show how other customers approached similar situations successfully, ideally with measurable results.

Whenever possible, do it. It's always appreciated and it shows you know your way around that specific subject.

5. Forgetting to include a "hook"

I know, we usually talk about a CTA (Call To Action) but this isn't just about telling them what to do, it's about prompting a reply, which is best done with a short and impactful question. Think of something like "When would you be available to discuss this?" or "Does this make sense to you?"

In other words, make it easy for your prospect to reply to you. Selling and prospecting isn't just a matter of bringing value and selling a product, you also need to make the whole process as smooth as possible.

Come on, be honest: how many of these mistakes have you made? How do you plan on correcting them?