It seems everyone in sales is talking about prospecting for sales leads using email these days. One question we should add to that discussion is why email marketing fails?
Does Email Prospecting for Sales Leads Always Fail
I too think sending prospecting emails when done properly can be a great way to generate new leads.
First of all, you have to write good emails. For some ideas on how to write better prospecting emails, check out these 7 Tips For Writing The Perfect Follow-Up Sales Email (According To Science).
Secondly, email marketing needs to be a part of a diversified lead generation program. Afterall, like most things in life, when you put all your eggs in one basket, you are setting yourself up to fail.
An Example of Email Marketing Fails
Let me give you an example of why email marketing fails. A couple of weeks ago I received a prospecting email from a sales rep about search engine optimization for our website. It was clear to me from the start it was a prospecting email as I had had no previous contact from the sender and I hadn’t recently requested any information from anyone on subject. Even still, the subject line was interesting enough to catch my eye in my over-crowed inbox and I opened it.
Reading the email intrigued me even further. The content was excellent. It followed most of the rules on how to write an effective prospecting email as per the articles I have read online, and by the time I got to the end, I said to myself, “I want to know more.” So much so, in fact, I hit the “Reply” button and consented to accept the free information in exchange for a phone meeting with the sales rep. In other words, I was officially a sales lead and agreed to start the sales process.
A week went by without any response from the sales rep. I still wanted the information promised to me, as well as the meeting with the sales rep to discuss it, so I sent another email to follow up. It’s been more than a week since sending my second email inquiry and, believe it or not, there is still no word from the sale rep.
Why Your Outbound Lead Generation via Email is Failing and How to Fix It
You are probably thinking, as a sales professional, you would never do this. You would never ignore an email from a potential customer, right? Well, think again.
You may not be intentionally ignoring sales leads, but you may be doing so none the less. For example, it is quite possible that both my emails ended up in the sales rep’s spam folder. This is still not a valid excuse for ignoring my inquiries mind you, but very possible.
The Biggest Reason Email Marketing Fails? Spam Filters!
Let’s face it. Spam filters are a fact of life for everyone these days. Therefore, if you are going to send prospecting emails, you need to check your spam folders regularly.
In fact, I check mine daily. And on more than one occasion when I have done so, I have found legitimate information inquiries hiding there. Some of these inquiries were from prospects whom I eventually won as clients partly because my competitors never responded to their email inquires and I did.
Now when I say check your spam filters regularly, I am not talking about reading each piece of spam. None of us have time for that. I am talking about skimming the messages’ subject line to look for any emails that have the same subject line as your prospecting emails with the “RE:” in front. These are the emails that you know are real replies initiated by your prospecting emails and need to be answered very quickly.
While you’re there, you should also take the time to mark the email as “not spam” in your email program. This wa, the chances are they will not be flagged by your spam filter in the future. Having said that, I have some associates whom I work with regularly and their emails always go into my spam folder, no matter how many times I whitelist them. I don’t know why; it just happens. So, I keep checking my spam folders regularly so that I don’t miss anything important.
Email Prospecting Needs to Be to Actual Prospects!
The second reason why email marketing fails is that sales reps are not sending their email to qualified prospects.
Many salespeople use automated email systems that exist within their CRMs. They set up a series of emails referred to as a cadence to be sent to prospects. They send you the first email and then the automation takes over from there. If you click on a link, it is tracked and that is used as a measure of engagement for sales rep follow up and to open up the sales conversation.
Why Email Marketing Fails? You Forgot to Qualify Your Prospects!
When the email is sent to a validated and qualified prospect, this method of lead generation works very well. I have helped set it up with a clients myself. We also offer the option in our Lead Generation Services. In some industries, when the pre-qualifying is done with a telemarketing call first, or when the cadence of emails is combined with phone calls as follow up, the results are excellent.
The key is how to pre-qualify your prospects beforehand. The prospecting emails I receive where I am definitely not a prospect, I mark them as spam and just delete them.
You Still Need to Use the Phone
Email prospecting should be part of a diversified lead generation program. In other words, you are still going to need to use the phone.
If you send an email to someone from whom you expect a reply and you have not received it, phone to follow up. If you go to their voice mail, just reference you sent the email and when you sent it in your voice message. I do this regularly and it’s amazing how quickly I get a response afterwards. It’s another good reason why sales reps should always leave a voice mail and why email prospecting should always be part of a diversified lead generation program.
There is No Excuse for Lack of Follow-up
Another possible explanation as to why the sales rep did not answer my emails is the sale rep could be away from the office and forgot to set their automatic email response. Again, no excuse, but possible.
It is also possible the sales rep who sent me the prospecting email is no longer with the company and no one is checking her emails now that she is gone. Again, no excuse. There are certain tasks every manager should do immediately when an employee leaves a company. So, if the sales rep has left, then shame on her manager for not checking for leads in her email.
Whatever the reason, prospects often don’t give second chances to sales reps who don’t respond to their sales inquiries. I know in my case, I won’t.
Don’t take chances. If you prospect by email, check your spam. After all, a knock is only an opportunity if you answer the door.
The Bottom Line on Email
Email is one of the most important and commonly used business correspondence tools, however few people use it to communicate effectively. Here are some business email etiquette tips to improve communication & help you write better internal & external emails. Tips for business, salespeople, job seekers & more.
Do you have a question about sales? You’re not alone. Most salespeople have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.