This week a client told me about their tremendous 80% take up rate. This was for an email they’d designed to get meetings with top executives.
What’s the secret behind this success? My clients did four simple things extremely well:
Knowing exactly what’s keeping the target executives awake at night. Those issues were positioned front and centre.
Selecting a small number of quality prospects to approach. Instead of blasting an email out to their entire prospect database a subset were selected, filtered by potential to invest and previous positive connections.
Curiosity not credibility
Eliciting an emotional state. Rather than go on and on about views on the issue, or credibility and proposed solution, the email gave away just enough to make the executive … curious.
Simple call to action
It was clear what action was needed. A brief meeting was asked for. It was made very easy for the executive to respond and say yes.
So, what lessons can we take forward from this?
- Decide who you want to serve. The world isn’t your oyster when you sell consultancy. Target only a tight group of potential clients you want to meet. You might start with a list of 250 organisations you can potentially work with. Whittle that down to a maximum of 25 organisations and create a list of executive names in those organisations. They are your primary targets.
- Know the people who’ll buy from you. Immerse yourself in their world. Develop views about the issues they face and the opportunities they want to pursue. Work out how you might overcome the barriers and risks they perceive. Be the type of consultant who challenges clients and says ‘this is typically what keeps my clients awake at night … I think there is something that can be done about it … if that resonates with your experiences then I’d like to meet you.’
- Write sales letters that highlight the issues and hint that you might just have something a bit different that will be valuable to the prospect. That doesn’t mean you need to splurge your point of view all over the email. You want to sell just enough to get the prospect to take a meeting with you.
- Arouse the prospects curiosity. Then offer a meeting with you so they can satisfy that curiosity. Don’t write in generalities. Prospects get dozens of emails a week from consultants offering leadership development, supply chain reviews and all the other gubbins.
- Make it easy for the prospect to say yes to your offer. So many sales emails are about the seller. They are also long, boring and convoluted. Keep your emails short. Get to the point. Ask for what you want. In most cases that’s a meeting. In which case ask for 30 – 45 minutes somewhere that’s convenient for them, not you. Better still an initial 15-minute phone call to test the water.
An 80% success rate is rare. So perhaps it’s worth taking the lessons from this and applying them to your next campaign. You might even try a split-test against less responsive emails you’ve sent in the past. Rework them using this approach and see how take up rates improve.
Good luck. And do let me know how it works out for you.
The bottom line
Get real: Your prospects are crazy busy. Unless your email hits the mark straight away it will be deleted.
Get prepared: Practice eliciting curiosity in people. Start with friends and colleagues. Bring a bit of mystery into your fact-based world.
Get savvy: If selling isn’t your thing you need to view your outreach emails through a critical lens. Use the lessons above to guide you.
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