How to Sell via Email

 

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:

  1. Cold (or warm!) email prospecting, and
  2. 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

Who doesn’t love 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.

 

Email Lists

Not that kind of list…

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.

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How to Engage Prospects With Social Media

I know, I know, you’ve heard everywhere that you need to be on social media. But if you’re on social media you’re probably not trying hard enough. And if you are trying hard enough you’re probably not catching your mistakes. And if you are catching your mistakes… well, if you’ve reached that point I’m the one who should be asking you for advice!

 

The thing about social media is that there are a million ways to do it all wrong. So I hope you won’t take offense if I say you’re probably doing about nine hundred thousand things wrong right about now.

 

(It’s nothing personal, it’s just that there’s a learning curve at work here.)

 

There’s an upside to that statistic I just made up though: if you can get your act together and do social media right, you can master it. And since you’re doing nine hundred thousand things wrong, there’s plenty of space for improvement.

 

So let’s cut through the misconceptions about social media and figure out how you can really use social media to get real results.

 

Build Individual Relationships

So many brands and so many freelancers get into the (frankly awful) habit of thinking their whole social media effort is about racking up followers. The thought process here seems to be, “Well, if I have ninety billion followers, some of them are bound to trickle down and buy eventually.”

 

Now, maybe if you’re Wal Mart that kind of thinking can work. If you’re Wal Mart, you can afford to throw a few million bucks at the problem and see if it does anything. And if it doesn’t, it’s no big deal.

 

But here’s the facts, bub: you ain’t Wal Mart.

 

Prospecting and selling on social media means actually getting out there and actually engaging with people. Make friends. Crack jokes. Ask questions. Everybody’s out there trying to do the same thing you are. Find the people you belong with and get to know them.

 

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “That’s good and well for a freelancer, but my small business can’t do that kind of thing.” And to an extent you’re right. People aren’t generally eager to have brands jump in on their conversations (especially not in any overtly salesy way).

 

But even if you’re a small or medium-sized business, you have options for building relationships. You can host a Twitter chat. You can ask questions and follow up with the people who answer them. You can steadily use social media as a tool to dial in on who your prospects are, how to find them, and what they need to hear from you.

 

Speak to Your Prospects’ Needs

Here’s the thing: it’s much easier to produce content that speaks to your prospects’ concerns after you’ve built a relationship with a few of them. And I’m not talking about all that malarkey people like to spew about big data and how it’s supposedly so useful. This is about getting to know your prospects.

 

I’m talking real, human knowledge. I’m talking the kind of knowledge that you feel in your fingers and in your tongue. It’s that little glow in the heart you feel when you meet somebody you can really respect and admire.

 

It’s not something you can manufacture with data. It’s not something you can find an algorithm for. It’s a matter of real human connection. People can tell the difference between somebody who’s going through the motions for the sake of making a sale or doing what the data says and somebody who’s really speaking to them.

 

I don’t want to get all mushy here, but I think that’s what words like “spirit” mean. It’s something people share when they’re really and genuinely speaking and listening to one another. And it’s exactly that which you need to bring into your social media use.

 

If you hear the concerns of people you’ve gotten to know and genuinely care about, you’ll gain insights into your prospects’ needs that you can’t access any other way. And that is how you create a social media presence that stands out from the pack.

 

Experiment Constantly

Among other things, this means being consistent with your social media use. From now on, there are no days off social media. You’re here for a reason, and you’re not leaving until you figure out how to satisfy that reason.

 

Listen: every industry is different, and you’re going to have to figure out what works best for you. I’m a freelance writer and I do a lot of my marketing on social media. That means I’m interested in finding brands that need a skilled writer. And that means I’m constantly calibrating my approach to figure out what these brands need and how best to serve them with my social media presence and my blog.

 

Sure, experimenting with social media takes a lot of effort. But the more effort you put into the process, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more you’ll eventually come to love social media.

 

Believe me. When I first started working on Twitter and LinkedIn, I hated social media. I thought it was a vapid waste of time and that anybody who wasted their time with it was an idiot who deserved to have his or her head smashed in. (That probably accounts for a lot of the mistakes I made at the beginning!)

 

But if you stick with it, you’ll realize there’s more to social media than angry people spouting their awful political opinions all over the place. There’s a wealth of information out there. There are brilliant people doing brilliant work. With a little time and a little cleverness, a network like Twitter can allow you to connect to almost anyone you can even dream of contacting.

 

Think about that for a minute.

 

Make a list of five people you’d like to get in touch with someday.

 

Go see how many of those people have a Twitter account just like yours.

 

Remember: if you get good enough at social media, you can take your account (or your brand’s account) and connect to anybody. The possibilities are literally only limited by your imagination.

 

So keep at it. Maybe you’re fumbling through the social media these days. But with time and practice you can turn it into something amazing.

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