Email is a very effective tool in outbound prospecting. Sending an email to a prospect before making a phone call can double the response rate, but only if it is done right.
An outbound prospecting email has a “shelf life” of only one business day, so using email as the first contact in a lead-generation program is effective only if the prospect is called the same day the email is delivered. Because most prospecting emails are unrequested, they tend to be viewed and then either tossed or buried in the prospect’s cluttered email box.
Our metrics show that appointments don’t typically result from email; they come from the follow-up call. However, using an email before calling has several advantages.
An email warms up the conversation, making it easier for callers to refer to the email rather than diving into a complicated script. An email also gives prospects information to refer to while on the call. Finally, callers are more likely to get past gatekeepers if they mention that they are calling to follow up on information sent earlier that day.
If using introductory emails, make sure you follow a few rules:
- Make emails look like they are individualized. Text-based, not HTML, emails accomplish this.
- Start the email with a line that will get the prospect to read it, such as “For your reference.” This opening line works because it appears the email is something the recipient requested, but it is not deceiving.
- Make email content credible by including links to information the prospect can click on, such as a case study, white paper, analyst report, or a short video or demo.
Finally, an email can be used to follow up with a prospect after callers have left several voice mail messages, providing another channel to which the prospect can respond. However, outbound prospectors need to be careful not to spam contacts.
Jenny Vance is president of LeadJen (www.leadjen.com), a b2b lead generation company.