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Remember the days of cold calling? Well, a prospecting email is the same concept, in writing. And remember how much everyone hated a cold call? So the trick to writing a good prospecting email is to dress your cold call up warmly.

These emails are a really important part of your sales process. They can also be rather a challenge. You need to get in a lot of information, in an engaging and concise way. But you don’t want to bore your reader. Nor do you want to overwhelm them.

Here’s my guide to writing the perfect prospecting email:

Know who you’re talking to.

The chances are you’ve never met this person or even been in contact with them before. But you need to sell them the benefits of working with you and these benefits will be different for different organisations and people. What’s their job title and role? What are their current challenges, issues, goals, pains, needs? This will help to guide you with what to say that will grab their attention. And, importantly, what not to say which will switch them off.

Nail your subject line.

This is the first thing they’ll see so you need it to be compelling. But also keep it short. You want the line to be fully visible on every type of device. A few words will do the trick, but make each word matter. You could even personalise it, which can be an effective motivator to open. Remember the rule about how to kickstart a conversation at parties by listening? Keep that in mind with your subject line, too. It’s about them, not you. A statistic relating to their industry or organisation, a line about a recent project, an offer to help.

Look to your email address.

Who wants to read something from thesalesteam@ or even admin@ or info@? It all feels too generic and impersonal. Send it from a personalised email address which includes your name.

Get your first line right.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Some people call me the space cowboy. I wandered lonely as a cloud. How different these books, songs, poems would be if the writers hadn’t paid attention to their opening gambit. And how you do this depends on your style, tone and offering. You could use humour (but tread carefully, this can spill into cheesy or even offensive). You could tease into the body copy with a question. Or a really succinct hit of the benefits of working together. The key is to be intriguing so they want to read on.

Tell them what’s in it for them.

This isn’t the time or place to give them a ton of information about how brilliant you are. It goes back to the ‘them not you’ notion. Your prospect will be most interested in what’s in it for them, what are the benefits, offers, hard facts about how you can add value to what they do.

Be persuasive.

But not OTT. The days of the slick patter of the used car salesperson are far behind us. Rather, stick to evidence and data to back up your points. Social proof is a strong ally here. Essentially, people are more likely to do something if others are. So references, testimonials, recommendations and case studies all back up your points. You could add these as links or keep them bite size if they’re in danger of making your message over-long. Which brings me on to…  

Keep it short and sweet.

Yes there’s a lot to get in. And there’s a temptation to throw everything you’ve got at them and hope something will land. But nobody’s going to read a long, waffly email from someone they don’t know. Make your copy work hard and it will speak volumes.  

Remember your call to action.

This is what you want them to do as a result of reading the email. Do you want them to get in touch with you? Book a demo or request a free trial? Download your brochure? Make sure you include your contact details and add buttons or links. Again, keep it clear. Don’t crowd them with multiple calls to action. One is fine.

Writing a prospecting email is hard work that pays off. Get it right, and your cold call will soon turn into hot prospects…

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