Three Tips For Personalized Sales Outreach

Three Tips For Personalized Sales Outreach

Dave Shaby is chief operating officer of RAIN Group, a Top Sales Training Company, and author of “Virtual Selling”

I hesitated to write the headline of this article because the last thing I want to do is slight my friends in marketing. Mass emails certainly have their purpose and place, don’t get me wrong. Think newsletters, content or email blasts announcing new products to an entire customer base. Mass emails can create value and help you stay top of mind.

But when it comes to a seller’s use of email, I’ve found mass mailings are generally a waste of time. Why? Because few business decision-makers will buy from a robot. In fact, that’s rule No. 2 of my company’s 13 golden rules of email prospecting: Don’t be a robot. For sales outreach, especially, it pays to personalize.

The data doesn’t lie.

When standing on my soapbox, touting the need to personalize sales emails, I find it helpful to share research from Gong, based on its analysis of more than 300,000 follow-up prospecting emails. In the spirit of “not being a robot,” there are a few data points from Gong’s findings I believe are important to keep in mind:

• First impressions matter. Response rates steadily decrease after the first interaction.

• Buyers make yes or no decisions in seconds.

While plenty of salespeople will simply copy and paste email templates to send to their prospects, I recommend taking a more personalized approach: copy, paste and customize.

Here’s how:

Three Tips For Personalizing Emails

By following the tips below, you’ll show your recipient that you’re not a robot and that you didn’t just copy, paste and send a generic template.

1. Show your true colors.

I certainly don’t have the charisma of a Denzel Washington, for example, but you might have noticed my personality coming through in my writing style. A little personality and emotion can make things interesting. Here are some words that I’ve found help evoke that kind of emotion:

• Annoyed.

• Upset.

• Doubtful.

• Glad.

• Powerful.

• Inspired.

Aside from the language you use, try infusing your appeal, pitch or offer with some personal details, stories for anecdotes. If you’ve got the chops, a little humor can go a long way as well (but use this with care).

2. Make your prospect the protagonist in your story.

I’ve read far too many prospecting emails that start with “I” or “we.” At a fundamental level, you’re contacting someone to bring value to their professional life, right? Therefore, it’s a strange strategy to lead with stuff about you.

Instead, lead with the real protagonist in the story: your buyer. The word “you” is a simple place to start. The best salespeople among us will find engaging ways to make it about the buyer, not themselves. For example:

• “Your post on LinkedIn about XYZ got me thinking … “

• “Congratulations on your new position! As you transition to this new role, have you thought about XYZ?”

• “Your company is making serious headlines today. Congratulations, Martin!”

To make your prospect the protagonist, you need to have seen their post on LinkedIn, heard about their promotion or read the headlines about their company. This requires upfront research and trigger events you can leverage in your outreach. Make sure that whatever you use as the hook is relevant to why you’re reaching out. Make the connection for them.

The best salespeople also follow another core best practice: Show benefits rather than telling features. One of my previous CEOs used to say, “Don’t give them directions to the Sistine Chapel. Put them inside the thing.”

3. Address your prospect by name.

I had a close friend who once wanted to try her hand in sales. She had all the attributes of a good salesperson, except one: She couldn’t remember names to save her life. This is why so many prospects couldn’t remember to call her back.

Did you know that including your recipient’s name in the subject line or body can improve open rates by 26%? I like to mix it up in terms of how I include my recipient’s name, but it’s usually in one (or all) of three places:

• In the subject line: For example, you might say, “Martin: Your MarTech Stack Is Missing Something.”

• In the email body: A simple, “Hi, Martin,” should suffice to kick things off.

• Near the end of the email: For example, you could mention, “I’ll be at your company’s conference next week, Martin. Is there a day we can connect for 15 minutes before one of the sessions?”

When salespeople take time to personalize, it shows.

The effort you put toward personalizing your email outreach efforts shows, and I’ve found doing so can increase your chances of landing a meeting. Now, I understand that time is limited, and writing every single outreach email from scratch may not be sustainable.

So, here’s what to do: Create templates for common scenarios, journey stages, different sequences, job titles and verticals. Then, personalize each one against the three tips I shared above. Let’s call it a hybrid approach, in which you pull a template off the shelf and tailor it to your recipient before clicking send.

Whatever you want to call it, do your prospect a favor: Take time to personalize. It’s a much more professional, customer-centric modus operandi that tends to pay off in the long run.

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