If you’re using e-mail as a prospecting tool, be aware that in three seconds your prospects make a choice between reading it and trashing it. Your objective is to get them to not only read it but to respond so you can set an appointment and begin the sales process.
Two things you can do to ensure your e-mail prospecting is effective are to limit the number of messages you send and make sure you have the right e-mail addresses.
Don’t send more e-mail than you can respond to. You might get an onslaught of replies and people today expect you to respond to their e-mail within 24 hours. In the back of their minds, though, they’re expecting a reply within a couple of hours.
Best practices suggest limiting the number of e-mail you send to no more than 125 contacts at a time. Some prospects will respond immediately and others may take several days. If you’re very busy, limit it to between 20 and 25. If you’re looking for a big response quickly, send as many as 125, but be sure you schedule time in advance to follow up on all the replies.
Gathering the right e-mail addresses to send to is always the biggest issue sellers have. They secure a list of names for their target market but don’t know where to get the e-mail addresses. While you can send an e-mail to a company’s general information address, the odds are against the message ever reaching your intended recipient.
Here are several excellent sources to help you gather e-mail addresses:
- Look within your own files first: Newsletter, marketing, or trade show lists; vendor lists you may have received; old prospecting lists that were never called and fall within your target market
- Leverage free lists: Jigsaw.com; Netprospex.com
- Use outside list builders: ZoomInfo.com; Insideview.com; Hoovers.com; Dun & Bradstreet; local chamber of commerce lists
- Check with alliance partners and associations: Joint campaign lists; lists you can purchase; association member lists with e-mail addresses
- Search your social networks: LinkedIn; Facebook
- Employ a bit of research: Web-based news sources; blogs; job postings with e-mail addresses; search engines (enter the person’s name and company’s domain name, e.g., @John Smith ABCwidgets.com)
If there’s a hot prospect you’re trying to reach via e-mail but none of these techniques works, you may be able to deduce the address by searching other contacts at the same company in your social network. If you can find one or two contacts’ e-mail addresses, you can probably use that information to figure out what your prospect’s address would be.
And, of course, you can always call the company to ask.
Kendra Lee is the author of Selling Against the Goal and president of KLA Group, which provides sales services, specializing in the information technology industry.