How to write prospecting emails

Posted on: November 16, 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Category: Email content

How to write prospecting emails

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If you want to write prospecting emails that convert you need to quickly get to the point. Be brief, cut to the chase, keep it simple and get down to brass tacks. Don’t pull any punches, just put your cards on the table right away. In short, I’d advise you not to open like I have.
A huge number of factors go into a successful email outreach campaign but there is none more important than the ability to create great emails.
Over the last five years, we’ve sent around 14 million emails. That’s a lot of lessons learned by our expert writers.
A previous analysis of our data revealed:

  • Prospecting emails should be short: 100-250 words is the perfect length.
  • ​Words should be short and easy to understand: 4.7 letters per word on average
  • Paragraphs should be short: 16-40 words make perfectly-sized paragraphs
  • ​Don’t have too many paragraphs: 2-4 paragraphs is ideal

Why prospecting emails should be brief

So why the focus on brevity when writing prospecting emails? While the psychology behind all this is pretty interesting, in the interests of simplicity (and brevity!) we’re going to outline three simple points that illustrate why simplicity works.

It’s not daunting

Have you ever turned to your bookshelf and once again picked up the slim, 300-page book rather than the 900-page epic? A quick glance is enough to reveal the level of commitment you need to invest in the book. Sometimes, reading a tome that is heavy enough to be used as a doorstop just feels too much.
When sorting through your inbox, anyone can quickly identify a prospecting email. It’s from someone they don’t know and they aren’t expecting it.
They have less reason to commit to this email than you do the novels on your bookshelf. So why would your email be any different? Make it brief and they may spend their time on reading it.

Decision-makers are busy

If you are a budget-holding, decision-making, high-flyer people constantly fight for your attention. Time becomes one of your key resources; how much time can you give to different people and activities.
When that email contains thick paragraphs of information, you have little incentive to commit your valuable time to reading it.
If that email is a few quick lines, the cost-benefit analysis tips in your favour; you risk wasting less than 30 seconds, but the benefit could help drive more sales. 

It’s better on mobile

We’ve established decision-makers are busy people. This means they are often on the go, laptop stored in a bag while one hand cradles a takeaway coffee and the other continues working via their mobile.
35% of business professionals check their email on mobile. This will skew heavily as we move up the ranks, as less senior employees may not even have a mobile. 46% of all emails are opened on a mobile.
Shorter emails are easier to read. Short enough, and the reader may not even need to scroll, increasing the likelihood of connecting.

How to write brief prospecting emails

So how do you keep it brief and not give into the temptation to add just a few more words? Here are three simple techniques.

I’m running out of battery

Have you ever desperately tried to type out a message on your mobile before the battery dies? While you shouldn’t feel similar stress when writing prospecting emails, there are some similarities in the type of message you send.
Stick to the facts and cut out the waffle. It’s tempting to add in more detail, thinking that the more facets of your service or product you can cram in the more persuasive your email will be.
The reality is adding all that detail means your message is less likely to be read at all. If it is, the full sales pitch isn’t needed at this stage; nobody signs contracts based on an email alone.
Write your email as if you have 5 % battery left and need to fire off a quick message before hunting down a charger.

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“Let’s talk” not “please buy”

Think about what you are trying to achieve with this email? As we’ve already covered, going in with the full pitch in the email is not going to convince someone to sign. You will need to speak to the prospect at some point, so make that your call to action.
A hard sell is a turn off for most people. One of the reasons is feeling like the sales rep is thinking about their commission more than your challenges. Position yourself as helping, rather than selling, and you’ll connect on a more human level.
We know that brief emails are more likely to connect with busy people, as they weigh up the cost-benefit of reading your email. The prospect will do a similar value exchange analysis regarding your CTA.
If you’ve listed every way your product is perfect for their business, the fear is any follow up call would be an in-depth hard sell, involving PowerPoint slides and – more importantly – a lot of their time.
Identify how you can help them, and ask for a 15-minute call. The value exchange suddenly becomes a lot easier. “Do I spend 15 minutes finding out a bit more about this proposition? Upside: a potential fix for one of my major challenges. Downside: I may lose 15 minutes of the day.”

It’s not rocket science

Outlining how your business can help their business in a brief email may feel like a challenge. In many sectors, technical language and acronyms may be unavoidable.
By not including these terms, you may feel you are painting yourself as someone who lacks the credentials to help them.
But by including jargon you not only make the email harder to scan, but you can also come across as unconfident in your approach; trying to baffle them with science. 
Written in the right way, a simplified prospecting email can show confidence and connect using everyday language:

‘As |name of job title| at |name of company| I’m sure you’ve found |insert shorthand for problem| to be an issue. My team have recently discovered a way you can use |insert shorthand for solution| to fix this. It’s all pretty complicated stuff but the long and short is it works and it’s really producing results for companies like |name of customers|.
I think it could really help out at |name of company| too. Can I put in a call to talk you through the technical ins and outs and share some examples of how I see you benefitting from it?’

Struggling to write prospecting emails that get results? To speak to the experts, give us a quick call and we’ll tell you what we do in just 15 minutes.

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