Recently, I've had a few run-ins with bad email etiquette. Not just in a quick email thread from a co-worker (I'll admit, my email etiquette gets sloppy in this arena), but I've received emails from salespeople attempting to get me (the marketing manager) to subscribe to their software, utilize their platform, or allocate some of my budget to their product, and all had major email etiquette issues, misspelled my name, or included verbiage that clearly showed me we aren't on the same wavelength. I also received an email from a potential candidate for a freelance writer that included major grammatical mistakes... WHAT!?
With our inboxes these days resembling a massive flood, email etiquette could be the 'make or break' to getting your foot in the door through this communication channel.
First of all, email is not dead. It is alive and well and thriving... when used the right way. Last year, I attended a conference and that was the title of a session, and it stuck with me. Before I dive into some business email etiquette tips, I want to share some stats on the effectiveness of email for sales:
- Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders.
- 86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.
- CTRs are 47% higher for B2B email campaigns than B2C email campaigns.
How Does Email Etiquette Affect Sales?
So, if email is an effective communication channel for salespeople, then why is email etiquette so important? I mean, everyone makes mistakes, right? Well... yes. But in this case, are they acceptable? No. They can be avoided.
Psychology-backed research shows that making errors affects the way people see you. Participants in a study were asked to read an email with grammatical errors and outcomes showed that the recipients thought the writer was less conscientious, intelligent, and trustworthy. If sales is built on trust and relationships with people, these simple mistakes can turn someone away from your amazing product or service in the first sentence! It did for me as I was reviewing potential software and services via sales emails I received!
This really isn't surprising. When you read an email with mistakes (whether these be grammar or spelling your name wrong - this happens to me all the time), we probably think a few things:
- This person doesn't have time to review their emails, therefor, do they have time to commit to solving my business' needs?
- This person doesn't care enough to put the effort into sending great information to me (or doing some research to make sure they spelled my name right), therefor, do they really care about helping me or do they only care about the sale?
Email Etiquette Tips for Salespeople
Since good salespeople build their foundation on trust and relationships, taking the extra time to avoid sloppy emails can help you establish trust and begin to build that relationship because you will show that you care, that you are precise, and that you are sharp and ready to help reach their business goals!
1. Use Your Real Name
68% of Americans say they base their decision to open an email on the ‘From’ name. Ensure your emails clearly state your name rather than sending from an alias or just the business name.
2. Use Proper Punctuation
When used correctly, punctuation can be subtle. When used incorrectly, it can be obvious. Don't make readers cringe or have to put in extra time to re-read your email 5 times because it's one long run-on sentence that makes an entire paragraph. That's confusing, and no one has time for that.
3. Use Correct Capitalization
According to Boomerang’s analysis of 300,000 emails, an all caps subject line hurts response rates by approximately 30%. I'm sure you're super excited about how your product can solve all of your prospect's problems, but yelling at them won't get you closer to the sale. Technically all caps doesn't mean you're yelling, but in today's world, a lot of people could interpret it that way. Don't lose the interest of a prospect because they think you are yelling at them.
4. Use Great Grammar
Alright, I know everyone isn't a stickler for their/they're/there usage, but many people notice it when it's wrong! How about your/you're? Oh man, that one gets me. Actually, they all do, and when I receive a sales email with improper grammar, it's an immediate turnoff. There are free tools that can be utilized to check your emails before you send! I personally like Grammarly. And it's free! Only thing it takes is your time. Isn't a quick grammar check worth your time if it means not immediately turning away a prospect? Yes.
5. Show Interest
Don’t just provide awesome information, request some too. Emails that contain one to three questions are 50% likelier to get replies than emails without any questions. This shows that you are genuinely interested in how you can help their business to reach their goals.
6. Email Formatting
There's a lot I can say about this one. But think about your company's branding. Think about your personal brand. Ensure the formatting is a wonderful representation of those things and the message you are trying to relay. This includes email signature, images, attachments, etc. When using attachments, it's a good practice to use sales enablement tools, like a documents tool that allows you to send links to documents that are trackable vs. sending a large attachment and never knowing if they even opened it. Email formatting is a big topic as it relates to email etiquette, but if you keep your branding and the message at the focus of your email when formatting it, that will help.
7. Use Hyperlinks that are Helpful
I hate nothing more than an email flooded with multiple long URLs. It looks messy and my eyes get confused. Do I click the URLs when this happens? No. What's worse is when there's a URL that's not actually linked. Do I have time to copy and paste the URL into my browser? Yes. Do I do it? No. Find a tool that either shortens long URLs (ex. Bitly) or just hyperlink the words in the text. For example, "I wrote a blog on social media best practices for salespeople and you might enjoy that also!"
There's so much that can go into email etiquette for salespeople, but these are just some major things to focus on first. Hubspot has a great blog that really breaks down a lot of the email etiquette elements that I shared, and I recommend you check it out when you have time to dive deeper.
Don't lose the sale from the start by careless mistakes or simple errors. Show your expertise and start to build a relationship based on trust by investing a small amount of time and going above and beyond with your email etiquette. Email is not dead, and email etiquette is "a thing." Let's all vow to create great emails that our prospects want to read!