6 Easy Steps To Landing Clients with Email
There is no golden key to acquiring clients and generating sales. All marketing methods convert at a very low rate, generally less than 1%. Content marketing is a great long-term approach. Each post will generate leads, but it takes time to build an inventory. Advertisements have never worked so poorly. They are expensive, often hard to measure and considered passive. Open source AdBlock software is popular among consumers and thwarting advertising budgets.
The best method to generate sales at the early stage of your business is with outreach. Send emails get on the phone and directly approach people. A decade-long career as a technical sales professional taught me you cannot wait aggressively by the phone and expect results. It taught me that if you put product or service in front of people that easily stand to gain from it, then the sales will come.
Here are 6 easy steps to setting up an effective and realistic direct approach campaign with email.
1. Know your SPAM laws.
There are two main laws to know when it comes to sending many emails:
Take the time to review both acts and the act of the country you are from. I am from Canada and this is why I included it in the list. Both these Acts are considered the gold standard. I cannot provide legal advice, but I can provide you with best industry practices:
- Honesty is key so don’t mislead anyone with the subject or body of the email
- Transparency is a must so include your full name, position, company, and address
- Give the recipient a way to opt out of the email. A common technique is to ask for a reply of contact correction
- Avoid long URL’s or URL minimizers. It is best to put a URL behind text
- Canada requires consent to use the email address, but that consent is implied if the address is available to the public. So be careful when emailing Canadians
If you are not receiving replies that include statements like “thanks for reaching out” then you are likely pushing the limits too far. Again this is not legal advice but I’m sharing common industry practices.
2. Craft a simple email
Don’t go too far into detail on this step. The gurus will lead you to believe there’s a secret recipe to follow. The only magic to a direct approach is to keep it simple. The Reply application has many templates and resources available to guide you. Here is what I use:
3. Craft a second simple email
You may not think you need to approach people a second time. I encourage you to test all assumptions that will make a difference, but I can save you time. Roughly 50% of your replies will come from your second email.
Again, keep it simple and assume they haven’t read the first email. Here is what I use:
I cannot comment on the best delay from the first to the second email, as I have not tested it. I currently use 3-7 days. The response rates of more than two emails are poor and in the order of 5%. Some apply a third email to the sequence, but I prefer to deal with clients that are more responsive. Realize that you are somewhat crafting your client interactions from the first contact.
4. Automation is the key to the emotional toll
A dark and little-discussed factor of the direct approach is the emotional toll. Crafting an email to each potential client, replying back to those who haven’t responded all requires effort. For each bit of effort, you will have an emotional investment. This investment adds up quickly. You will only hear back from roughly 15% of those you approach. This includes the “no thanks” which will be roughly 12% of your approaches. The remaining 3% will express some sort of interest. No closes at this point, only a sign of interest.
A big emotional investment coupled with a low success rate equal burn out. Most cannot keep this process going and will quit within two weeks. The key to managing this emotional toll is automation. The Reply application automates the email sending process and the follow-up process, on top of your existing Gmail account. Removing this emotional burden through automation is the only way to sustain your efforts. And your efforts will pay off.
5. Without leads, you will fail
Many will lead you to define your ideal client. In some cases this is easy to define. For example, the start-up Zenefits approached people from LinkedIn with human resources titles. In other cases, this is more difficult and requires iteration. There are examples of UX designers approaching start-ups that have received recent funding. You will have to define this for your business type and each is unique.
But I can pass along some advice based on practice. There is an emotional investment to gathering leads as well. It is far easier to hire a lead generation service or assistant to gather leads for you. Thereby removing the emotional burden. You will start to see the direct approach process as a sales funnel. In the top of the funnel are the direct approaches and out the bottom are the leads you’ve converted. The top of the funnel can be a lot of work to keep full.
6. Benchmark and compare
The gurus will lead you to believe the magic is split testing and optimizing your emails. As long as you have a decent email sequence you will do well. What you want to split test is the source of your leads. This will help you refine your ideal client and the people who stand to gain from your product or service.
Continually approach new sources of clients that will gain from your product or service. And don’t even think of starting to compare until you’ve approached 500 companies from each source. In the meantime here are actual numbers from one of my campaigns. This will give you a benchmark to see how you are doing.
I approach two contacts within each company. So how I compare results is a little different from the diagram above. Regardless a 74% open rate is high when compared to some others. But you should expect roughly 60% to 70%. The reply rate is average at 11%. Recall the reply rate includes the “no thanks” and the “I’m interested” replies.
Reply has many articles that will guide you through improving these numbers:
This led to 31 companies expressing interest (~40% of the replies). We have been able to secure a call with 5 of those clients so far and land 3 of them (60% close rate). I consider the close rate a little low and would like to be around 80%. But a lesson you will only learn from practice is that this is a process and it takes time. Even though the emails are mostly sent the process is still active. There are still 26 potential clients that are in various stages of the funnel. That funnel will likely take us to the 80% close rate we are expecting.
by Mike Grossman