Selling with email is important. It’s a good way to drum up business quickly. The only faster way is for you to do cold calls—but if you’re like me you’d really rather stick your hand into a hot skillet than make a cold call!
So let me guide you through the process and show you the basics of email selling.
The main things I’m going to focus on are:
- Cold (or warm!) email prospecting, and
- Building an email newsletter and turning it into a sales tool.
With cold email, you’re reaching out directly to prospects at their email addresses. They usually don’t know you, and you don’t know them. I’m going to go over how to use this kind of email to build relationships with prospects and steadily warm them up to the idea of buying from you.
An email newsletter is more of a long-term selling plan, but as time goes by it should be able to drive even more business to your door. The trick is to get your site’s visitors interested in giving you their contact information and then to keep up a steady stream of useful emails that keep up buying desire.
So now you know what to expect, so let’s go.
Cold Email Prospecting
The first thing you need to do with your cold email prospecting is find your prospects. You’ll have to compile your own list of prospects and get them ready to go. It’s good to use a spreadsheet for this kind of thing.
First, you need to find some way to identify the businesses you want to reach out to. A good way to do this is through searching on LinkedIn, Google, or a local networking site. You can focus on one particular industry if you already know your niche, or you can try a selection of industries if you’re still working on it.
Personally, in my freelance work I trawl LinkedIn for leads. I’ll focus on one industry, and I’ll try to target any business with less than 200 employees. (Businesses that are much bigger than that generally have well-developed marketing departments and won’t be likely to need a freelancer.)
Once you find the business, you should try to hunt down an email address. You want to find an individual’s email address, and it’s best if you can find somebody who can make the decision to buy from you.
Finding a good email address is a major problem in these situations. Fortunately, there are plenty of services (like Hunter or Kompass) to help out with just this problem. Also, InMail is an option for LinkedIn users, and it may justify the cost of a premium LI account.
Now, once you’ve identified your targets and you’ve got your email addresses, the time has come for you to send your actual emails.
Especially if you’re short on business, it’s tempting to think that the best way to do this is to send out a stack of form emails so you can get responses from as many people as possible.
Bad idea. When you’re doing this, you want to put serious work into personalizing each email. Demonstrate that you’ve put some effort into learning about the company. Personalize and tailor your pitch to every individual you contact.
People can tell if you’re faking it. If you can spot a fake, generic email, they can spot a fake, generic email. If you want to get real opportunities, you have to prove you’re willing to invest a little bit of yourself into making a connection with your prospect’s needs. Because ultimately selling isn’t about making the sale. It’s about making a connection.
As a long term strategy, you can market your business over time by building an email list. Creating a newsletter and building relationships over time is a good way to generate business at a pace that the prospect can determine for himself or herself.
The first problem in this process is to encourage the visitors to your site to give you their content information. One way to do this is through gated content.
Gated content is content that the visitor can only access after they’ve given you something in exchange. It can be an eBook that your prospects can access in exchange for an email address. It could be a free sample or trial offer of your service. It could be anything you’re willing to exchange.
After you’ve got your email list set up, you’ll have a steady flow of new prospects adding their contact info to your list. These lists are extremely valuable, especially if you’ve targeted your offer well.
But what do you do with them now?
Now you use a batch email tool like MailChimp to contact your prospects. You want to be sure to contact your email list at least once a month, or else your subscribers might forget they’ve signed up in the first place.
Frequency is up to you, though. Some prefer a weekly update. Some go biweekly. Some brave souls even go with a daily update.
The point isn’t how many emails you send out, though. While that’s an important aspect of email selling, the important thing is that you have a direct connection into your subscribers’ inboxes and you should take advantage of it.
Your goal here is to steadily inform your prospects about your services. You don’t want to be overtly salesy, but you do want to make it clear that you’ve got some valuable services to sell. Content is king, but you always want to remember your goal.
Never forget that the point of the newsletter is to drive sales. You always want to be educating your subscribers about the value of your offer. If you’re wondering what kind of content should go in your email newsletters, here’s your answer: only the content that makes it clear that you’re the one your prospects need to hire.
That could be a link to your blog. It could be market information. It could be a podcast. Whatever form of value you choose to give your subscribers, you should put that into your newsletter.
Over time, you’ll find a strategy that works for you. And once you find a strategy that works for you, you’ll be ready to sell.