10 deadly email prospecting mistakes you might be making

In today’s world, email is the most important and often most successful method for selling and marketing your product, even more so than PPC campaigns and social media. And, it makes sense that when it comes to sales prospecting, email continues to be the method of choice.

This is because, unlike other channels, sending an email provides you with a direct connection with your prospect. You have so many more opportunities to personalize your message and initiate a meaningful conversation.

However, the explosion in the sheer number of prospecting emails sent each day means that writing has become a very important skill in sales – and a skill we’re all going to need to harness.

That’s easier said than done, though. But, don’t worry; below, we’ll walk you through the top ten mistakes sales reps make when sending prospecting emails and what you can do to make sure your email is perfect every time you press ‘Send’.

1. Sending the right message to the wrong person

It really does not matter how well an email is composed nor how persuasive its content is if it goes to the wrong person. Ensure the contact you’re emailing is someone that can influence the buying process, or, even better, make the purchase.  Remember, a little research into the company you’re contacting can go a long way.

Pro-Tip: Check that you have spelled the recipient’s name correctly in the body of the email. It’s an easy mistake to make, and turn your prospect off before they even start reading!

2. Using hefty subject lines

There is no doubt that prospecting emails need catchy, eye-grabbing subject lines. It doesn’t, however, need a subject line that goes on and on and on! In fact, the longer your the subject line, the more likely it ends up in the trash.

Not to mention, if you put ‘all your eggs in one basket,’ what will you have left to say in the rest of the email? Think of it this way: The subject line of your email is like the headline of an article. If the headline isn’t captivating or engaging enough, there’s no way your prospect will read the rest of the content.

“If you’re unsure of whether your subject line encaptures the rest of your email, ask a colleague to help,” explains Jennifer Hernandez, an Email Newsletter Manager at Bestaustralianwriters. “Firstly, ask if they would open the email if you sent it to them. Secondly, have them read the email to ensure that your subject line optimally describes the content of the rest of your email.”

3. Not being personal in an impersonal world

As we mentioned above, most business communications that are sent out (especially in bulk) have no personal feel to them at all. And fixing this is not as simple as just addressing a person or business by name in the body of your sales prospecting email.

If you really want to personalize your emails, you should be doing a variety of the following:

  • Mention their name more than once at the beginning of the email.
  • Use their company in a way that shows you know who they are.
  • Reference some of their customers in a way that shows you know what they do.
  • Attach blog posts, articles, or other content that are relevant to your email.

personalized sales prospecting email

With all this mind, it might be worth ditching bulk emails altogether. Think about it: If you’re sending out 100 bulk emails and only getting a few replies, wouldn’t it be far more beneficial to work on personalized prospecting emails that are far more likely to generate a response?

4. Sounding too much like you are trying to sell something

Have you ever noticed that, when salespeople approach you on the street or cold call you, they start off on a personal note? “Hi, how are you?”, “My names Joe Bloggs” and “Hello, I hope you’re having a good day?” are all familiar lines. This is because they know that jumping straight into a sales pitch will turn off their potential customers.

The ‘rules’ for a successful sales prospecting email are no different. Jump in sounding like a salesperson and more than likely you’ll never receive a reply. On the other hand, back off a little with the sales pitch and build a relationship like you would with someone in real life and your chances of success increase.

Lorri Casper, a Sales Team Leader at Assignment help, says, “Talk about their business a little, ask questions about what they need and come across as a human. This will help you gain a much greater understanding of the individual’s and business’s needs, giving you all the information you need to make a far more effective pitch.”

5. Making it all about you, not them

The goal of any good sales prospecting email is always going to be to gain more business for your company. However, to do that, you need to make your prospects feel you have contacted them for their benefit by making the email all about them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about how you and your business can help with your prospective customer’s needs or how you can help alleviate any problems they’re experiencing. But, it does mean that you shouldn’t make the email a biography of your company.

Prospecting the account's objectives
Pro-Tip: Thoroughly research the company you are approaching! This should help you build up a comprehensive image of your prospect and how they go about their business. A smart salesperson should be able to analyze their prospect’s business model and identify any potential areas where his or her own company can provide a beneficial service or product.

6. Using long sentences and never-ending paragraphs

The majority of people who receive and open unsolicited email will only scan it for the bits that interest them. This is very hard to do, though, when the sentences are lengthy, and the text is in big blocks.

Keep your sentences short and concise, and do not be afraid to hit the ‘return’ key and create more paragraphs. The easier it is to scan, the more likely your prospect is to read it.

Consider this post as an example. Chances are that you haven’t read all the content of this article. More likely than not, you’ve simply scanned the headlines to find the bits that you’re interested in reading. Can you imagine if this article was just one big block of continuous text? I bet you’d see the overwhelming amount of content and move onto a different page.

The same concept applies to your emails.

Pro-Tip: If you often write long sentences or paragraphs, there are applications to help. Some will count the number of words in your sentences and others will edit them. If you need them, use them! As we have above, you can use bold text in your content to highlight certain key points that you want your reader to see.

7. Adding more information when it’s all just too much

By sending your email, you are hoping to gain more business for your company. By reading your email, your prospective client is hoping to get all the information they need and quickly. More detailed discussion can be left for once you have sparked an interest.

The only business information you should include in this first email is:

  • The reason you are contacting them
  • What you can do for them
  • A hook line (more on this to  follow)

Pro- Tip: Seven sentences will cover all the above and maybe just five, if you’re clever and concise. If it ends up being over eight, you’re going to need to revise your content. Remember that many people reading their emails will be browsing through their inbox trying to find the content that’s relevant and important to them. They’re not going to want to stop and read emails that are thousands of words long.

8. Not investing in a hook, line, and sinker

The hook line is all about garnering a reply to your initial communication. Very simply, they tell your potential client what to do next if they are interested in finding out more about you.

Keep your hook lines simple to make it easy for your client to understand their next move. Try saying something like “Let me know if you’d like to discuss this further” or “Do you have 15 minutes to chat next week? ”

hook line sales prospecting

9. Becoming an annoyance

This consideration should go without saying, but it’s essential that you don’t fall into this trap. Annoying the recipient of your email is never a good idea.

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to annoy someone without even knowing we are doing it. To avoid this, make sure your email is valuable to the recipient by being clear and concise.

Pro-Tip: If you are worried that your emails may not be received well or are ineffective, you can always use an app that will tell you whether or not:

10. Making these unforgivable errors

Last, but certainly not least, on this list of sins committed when writing sales prospective emails is not using all the tools available to ensure that your content is perfect. There is, after all, no excuse for bad grammar or formatting not proofreading and editing and failing to do these things will only result in a lost sale.

After all, would you invest in the services of a company who have emailed you with content that is riddled with mistakes, typos, poor grammar, and misplaced punctuation?

Luckily, there are tools out there that can help. My favorites include:

In conclusion

As you can see, there are many elements of a sales prospecting email that you need to consider to maximize your opportunities for generating a sale.

By creating personalized emails that are superior in their accuracy and puts the customer first in every sentence, you’ll create a reading experience that your prospects won’t be able to resist, and, of course, generate a far more effective channel of revenue for your business.

Beyond these tips, it’s critical to make sure you and your sales team are organizing all collateral in a way that sets you up for success. With DocSend, you’ll be able to share sales collateral with prospects and clients while getting real-time, actionable, feedback on document engagement, so you can be in full control of your business outcome. Say goodbye to email attachments once and for all, and click here to get started with a free trial of DocSend!

About the author

Freddie Tubbs is a sales strategist at Bigassignments. He works as a business writer at Paperfellows and is a contributing author at The Atlantic and Australian help online blog.