Sales Netiquette Pays Off
The Internet and e-mail have become a primary means for communicating with customers and prospects. Yet how effective are we as salespeople in selling over the Internet to get the results we need? Can email be just as effective as in-person or telephone contact?
Before communicating with customers, salespeople should understand each customer’s preferred method of contact (e.g. email, phone calls, visits). While some want personal contact and look forward to chatting with you, others prefer quick and to-the-point e-mail messages.
But beware. Without having had prior personal contact or a referral, emails you initiate may not yield significant sales or appointments. Having worked with hundreds of sales teams, we’ve found that prospecting success rates are usually lower using email vs. proven tele-prospecting techniques
Below are some tips for ensuring your efforts to sell via e-mail and over the Internet are effective:
1). USE CLEAR, CONCISE SUBJECT LINES that convey the key point of your email message.
2). KEEP IT BRIEF. Just as good business letters should be kept to a page or less, emails need to be short and concise (25-line maximum, but less is better). Be sure to read and edit emails to cut out unneeded words. Likewise, using shorter sentences makes the email quicker and easier to read.
3). KEEP IT SIMPLE. Address only one topic per email and be clear as to what action is expected (or what action you will take).
4). PAY ATTENTION TO FORMAT. Breaking up the email into short paragraphs (rather than one or two long ones) makes it easier to read. Avoid using either all caps or all lower case letters. And be sure to use proper punctuation for a business email.
5). DON’T USE IT TO REPLACE PERSONAL NOTES. While selling over the Internet via email is quick, recipients rarely get the “warm feeling” of a handwritten thank you note or birthday card. So, when the relationship is important and you want the impact to be high, use other means to communicate (e.g. carefully selected cards or a personal phone call).
6). COUNT TO TEN IF YOU’RE EMOTIONAL. Once sent, an email cannot be retrieved. Worse yet, it can be forwarded to many other people without your permission or knowledge. So, if you’re upset or tempted to send a very negative email, think twice befone selling on the Internet and consider the impact if others were to be copied.
7). ALWAYS PROOF AND SPELL CHECK. Your professional reputation is key to your success. Misspelled words, improper punctuation or poor use of the English language can hurt your chances for generating sales, particularly if you sell premium-priced products or services.
8). CREATE TEMPLATES TO SAVE TIME. When you write a good email (e.g. a thank you, appointment follow up or proposal submittal letter), save it as a form or template. With just a small up-front investment of time, you’ll save lots of time on the mechanics of selling over the Internet.
While email can be an effective sales tool, it is not usually a good substitute for things like telephone prospecting, negotiations or personalized notes. Since others can easily be copied on emails, selling over the Internet can be fraught with danger. Remember, emails that are poorly written, misrepresentative or emotional are permanently irrecoverable!
Since the benefits of email are substantial, all salespeople would be wise to adhere to these “netiquette” tips when selling over the Internet.
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