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Prospecting by email can be challenging — and unrewarding. After sending thousands of emails and receiving only a handful of responses, many salespeople give up entirely. But instead of resigning yourself to getting sent to spam, it’s time to take a hard look at your ineffective prospecting emails and figure out what they’re missing.

High-level prospects are bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. It’s no surprise that your sales emails need to be crafted with care if you want your recipients to open, read, and respond to them.

The following nine strategies are used in prospecting emails with the highest response rates. If you want your prospecting emails to convert to real business, implement these powerful secrets to dominate your competition in sales.

1) Present your email’s value up front.

Most email platforms display the subject line and first sentence of every new email. As your prospects scroll through the day’s new messages, will they recognize the value of your email right away? If not, you’ve got a problem. Present your email’s value up front by crafting a compelling subject line and first sentence that directly state the value your email brings. For example, if your email tells prospects about a new marketing tool your company offers, then tell them so. Or if you’re emailing them a free ebook with tips to help them reach their business goals this year, make sure that’s explicit.

For more on this email strategy and others like it, check out this video:

2) Never use a salesy subject line.

Writing salesy subject lines is a common prospecting email mistake. It’s also one of the easiest ways to sabotage the success of your sales emails. When your emails have promotional subject lines, their chances of being opened plummet dramatically. Instead of resorting to hype and showmanship to get your prospects to click on your emails, remember to simply present your email’s value in clear, powerful way. Be truthful, genuine, and compelling — not salesy.

3) Write like a friend — not a salesperson.

If you want to write sales emails that prospects actually read, they don’t need to be shining examples of industry jargon, selling tactics, and “formal” business writing. In fact, they shouldn’t be. No need for “sirs” and “madams” — write to your prospects as if you’re a friend. Focus on coming across as a genuine person who has something valuable to share, and you’ll immediately increase your odds of getting a response. One of the best ways to master this strategy is to practice writing the way you talk. While you certainly don’t want egregious spelling errors in your prospecting emails, don’t edit yourself too much. Try to sound like yourself.

4) Don’t write more than five sentences.

Not only do short, concise messages convey confidence, professionalism, and authority, but they also ensure that your prospects will read your entire email from start to finish. As a general rule of thumb, never write a prospecting email that’s more than five sentences long. If your prospects can read your entire email and respond to you within one minute or less, you’ll enjoy higher response rates than ever before — and close more sales as a result.

5) Keep every email personal.

This might sound simple, but surprisingly few salespeople take the time to personalize their sales emails. If you use boilerplate copy to email all your ideal prospects, they’ll notice. Instead of beginning with “Hello,” say, “Hi, [prospect name].” Personal touches like greeting prospects by their first name make your emails far more effective. Just think about your own reactions to emails that address you by your first name as opposed to completely un-personalized ones that lump you in with a crowd of potential customers.

6) Do your research before hitting send.

Show your prospects you know more than just their first name. Find their company name, current job title, and any recent promotions, accomplishments, or work events. Social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook can provide all the information you need. Reference at least two tidbits of personal information in each email you send. You can also demonstrate you’re an expert in their field by researching top trends in your prospects’ market. This approach connects you more deeply to your prospects and increases the likelihood that they’ll respond to your message.

7) Understand the ultimate goal of prospecting emails.

Every prospecting email has the same primary goal: Receive a reply from the prospect. That’s it. If you’re clear about this goal, your prospecting emails will immediately improve. Before you press “Send,” ask yourself: “If I was the buyer, would I respond?”

If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.

8) Always end with a compelling hook.

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is failing to ask a question at the end of sales emails. When you close an email with something vague such as, “Looking forward to hearing from you!” or “Let me know if you want to connect,” prospects have no compelling reason to respond. A specific question, on the other hand, acts as a hook to compel prospects to answer you. Some powerful closing questions include: “Which of these challenges rings true for you?” and “What’s the best address to mail you this free assessment?” Make sure there’s immediate value in giving you a response.

9) Never send emails “just because.”

There’s little your prospects hate more than receiving pointless emails. Far too many salespeople think it’s a good approach to send sales emails “just because.” But would you make a sales phone call if you had nothing to sell? Of course not. Prospecting emails that just “say hi” or “check in” annoy busy prospects with full plates. The last thing you ever want your emails to do is waste your prospects’ time. When you send an email, there should be a valid reason: A new product or service offering, a free assessment or book, a request for mailing address so you can send a sample, or helpful industry insights.

Which of these nine secrets to effective prospecting emails will you start implementing right away? Share below in the comments. And check out this free ebook on 25 Tips to Crush Your Sales Goal for even more powerful sales advice.

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