If you’re like me, you still get at least three sales pitches a day in your email inbox. Spam filters have forced actual sales people (as opposed to spambots, which seem to be getting blocked in my email these days – Yay!) to construct a clear and targeted message. But getting into your inbox is just the first step – when you actually read these sales communications, you have to wonder whether they’re even trying anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: cold sales communications through email can be very effective – I’ve got a better-than 50 percent hit rate for cold emails. Unfortunately, many (I would guess, most) sales professionals today are missing the key components of for successful sales communication.

One sales email I got last week was so terrible, I felt compelled to respond – not to buy what they were selling, but to help them do their job better! They obviously used a template they hadn’t adapted very well, with names in different fonts inserted to fill in the blanks. Spelling and grammar were off (one typo might be excusable on a good day – multiple errors, not so much). They also wanted me to reply to a Gmail address, indicating they didn’t even have a proper business website and email set up – not really an indication of a business on which I could rely.

Cold sales communications that actually might work

Here’s a quick roundup of what to do when sending out a cold sales communication that might actually get customers to respond.

1. Be Concise. Emails, like just about anything you read on the Internet, are made for quick bursts of attention. Say what your company does and how it’s going to help the customer in as few words as possible. A good rule of thumb: no more than three paragraphs per cold sales email. Get it down to two, even better!

2. Be specific. The recipient doesn’t have time to translate corporate speak, so say what you mean. Your accounting software is not an “innovative business management tool for managing the complexities of finance and business administration blah blah blah…” A simple – The accounting software will reduce year and month end closure by x percent.

3. Do your research – not just on the potential customer’s website. If you can, refer to recent articles. (e.g. I noticed from your article in the______________, that staff retention was one of your greatest challenges).

4. Be relevant. What’s the challenge I’m faced with? How can your product make a difference? How do I know it’s going to work for me?

5. Target the right person. I’ve highlighted the importance of reaching the decision maker before, but that advice never gets old. Aim for the top and they will refer you if what you say resonates.

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