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Email Prospecting: How to Get an Appointment

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Recently, I got an email from marketing consultant Daniel McLellan complimenting me on my email prospecting strategy. While Daniel likes my approach, he takes a slightly different approach in the way he ends his emails. I like Daniel’s ending because it makes a recipient feel like he’s talking to a human being, not a salesperson. It reduces the prospect’s defensive response and opens him to actually talking to you, just like you’re talking to him.

But enough of my pontificating. Here’s what Daniel wrote:

 I explain to my sales team that asking people to call you back is a bit obnoxious—even if there is value and reason. When you do that your prospects are left thinking, “Wait, you want me to call you? So you can pitch me? You want me to stop doing my job and search for time in my calendar to give you so that you can sell me? Are you kidding?”

Using your strategy increases response rates for sure, but even great emails will sometimes fail. This is why I take a different approach. I try to put as much of the onus on me as possible to connect.

Here are some ways that I do that:

Example 1: “I have time free on Friday, July 6th at 2:00 pm. I’ll reach out to you then to discuss. I hope you’re able to take my call.”

With this closing statement, you’re:

  • Showing that you are not asking anything from them.
  • Carrying the labor of the continued conversation.
  • Passively trying to connect, not aggressively.

 Example 2: “I’ll reach out to Mary to see if you have some free time next week to discuss this.”

By suggesting that you’ll reach out to their executive assistant, you’re:

  • Showing that you’ve done your homework.
  • Following the correct protocol for the continued conversation.
  • Not asking anything from them and their busy schedule.

Example 3: “I have time free on Friday, July 6th at 2:00 pm. Are you free at that time to talk?”

By closing this way, you’re:

  • Still asking them to do something, although it’s minimal. They just need to check one date/time in their calendar.
  • Giving them enough time (at least a week out) to ensure that they’ll have a spot on their calendar.
  • Sometimes I’ll offer two times a week out for them to choose from and then say, “Which date/time works best?”
  • By taking this approach, I’m applying a successful passive/aggressive strategy. I’m able to send three to five emails and make three calls without annoying the prospect…which isn’t easy.

Here are a few suggestions to increase your email cold calling success rate using this approach:

  • If I don’t reach them, I leave a voice mail and send an email stating, “I guess this didn’t turn out to be a good time. Let’s try again for Wednesday at 3 p.m.”
  • On the morning of my proposed meeting I’ll send an email stating, “As per my message, I’ll be calling you today at… I hope that we’re able to connect. Please let me know if that time doesn’t work.”
  • I’ll continue this for three-times per prospect, then back away. After the third attempt, I usually say, “I guess this time frame is way too busy for us to connect. I’ll try again in the future. In the meantime, feel free to contact me…”
  • I then move on to someone else in the company after the three times.
  • I try to splice the attempts with value. Before the scheduled call attempt, I may forward them an article stating, “This company looks like they are going through the same thing as you…check out their approach.” Or on a VM, stating, “By the way, B2B magazine has a whole section this month of the financial services vertical and I know that’s a big focus for you guys.”

I love the simple elegance of Daniel’s approach. The moment I read/heard it from a customer’s perspective, I knew it was much more effective.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.


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