Most sellers (and nearly all marketers) believe sending helpful content to prospects is an effective sales email best practice. They think that adding value is essential. They may even believe they must make deposits first, before withdrawing. But even when information sent within your message sequence is useful & relevant, the act of offering (without being asked to do so) will cost you.
Instead, helping the right person feel an urge to request your knowledge will start more conversations.
Because this practice leverages human instinct. It also helps you stand out from the crowd.
The case for adding value
“Here’s the problem with emails today, they lack value,” says Jim Keenan of A Sales Guy Inc.
“If you don’t think email needs to offer value, then you are probably one of the perpetrators of horrific emails. Emails must offer value,” he says.
However, our online Academy members are living proof of the very opposite: Cold emails that don’t offer value do earn response more often, in many cases. And we know why.
You may believe email messages need to be seen as credible by prospects. This isn’t always true either. Trying to add value and be seen as credible too soon can actually sabotage replies.
However, Mr. Keenan argues for this sales email best practice.
Your email, he says, must offer value “because you’re asking for something” (a meeting).
“Why should someone open your email or give you 15 minutes of time if there is no value in it for them? They shouldn’t and they won’t.”
But what if your cold email didn’t strive to prove value—nor ask for a meeting? What if striving to add value and secure meetings, from cold, is the problem?
Why adding value isn’t working anymore
Everyone is adding value, sharing third-party research findings via persuasive emails, or sending helpful articles, advice, and tips.
Everyone is pushing knowledge they believe is valuable at prospects. At what point does all the unsolicited email value-pushing get annoying to prospects and start working against you?
Mr. Keenan makes the argument we hear often.
“To get your buyers and prospects to open your emails you need to craft an email that compels the buyer to open it, (your first ask) read it, (your second ask) then respond (your third ask) and then agree to your request for a meeting or demo or whatever you’re ultimately asking for (your fourth ask).”
In a marketing context, yes. But sales email messaging is different.
Increasingly, clients open emails based on curiosity about what’s inside the email—not because of anticipation of value they’ll receive.
They’re open to a discussion about a possible meeting… not an immediate meeting.
Avoid asking for meetings
We add value in hopes of earning a meeting. Why? Well, it’s a “best practice.” But by the time an outreach practice becomes “best,” it’s so widely adopted it’s become ineffective.
Truth is, compelling a customer to meet without having established a need to is an outdated, ineffective practice too.
Want more meetings with decision-makers? Stop requesting them. Instead, start provoking discussions, piquing curiosity about a possible meeting.
Stop trying to give-give-give, add value, provide advice, and clearly present solutions. Start trying to provoke.
Be unclear. And super short.
“The offer is what you are offering or giving the reader…. If you’re not offering the reader anything, why should they open it, read it, respond, or even agree to what you’re asking for?” asks Mr. Keenan.
Because you’ve caused them to become curious and are not asking for the meeting!
They’ll engage because you stopped pushing value and genuinely provoked them.
Update your outreach psychology
“Give to get” makes sense. It sounds good. But is it the best? Does it work well enough?
Increasingly, our member community reports no.
Here’s why: Human beings value more what we ask for, less what is offered freely.
The more we see people offering (making deposits), the less we want what’s being offered.
It’s human nature.
Consider your personal experience. In dating: The more the man or woman you want wants you (and shows you), the less you tend to want them.
They make deposits, compliment you, say what they think you prefer to hear. But all of it just makes you less interested.
Now flip it.
The less the person (you want) wants you, the more you want them.
It’s a proven, everlasting concept that strong communicators know how to apply.
Help the customer want to be helped—THEN help. They’ll value your offer more and, therefore, want to talk more.
Because it was THEIR idea.
Get more sales email best practice myths
Curious to learn more and take action? 🙂
Join me and Darryl Praill as we expose more best practice myths and discuss the distinction between toxic marketing copywriting and curiosity-sparking sales copywriting practices. I’ll share effective conversation-starting tactics that our Academy community has cooked up over the last few months.
Update your outreach tactics based on our community’s experience. It’s going to be fun! See you there.
⬇️ Register now! ⬇️
About the Author
Jeff Molander is a sales communication coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a way to spark more conversations with customers “from cold”, and fill pipeline with more close-able clients. His company, Communications Edge Inc., crowdsources the latest, most effective conversation-starting tactics — and shares them inside a private community of small business owners, sales reps and marketers. He’s been selling for over two decades and, in 1999 co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc. Jeff was also first to offer a practical book for small businesses to sell using social media. In 2011 he published, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.