In the maze of corporate America, it’s sometimes difficult to get a decision-maker on the phone. If a gatekeeper or assistant tells you that the best way to reach a particular prospect is by email, by all means send one. Here are some strategies to maximize your chance of a response:

1. Create an attention-grabbing subject line

If your prospect doesn’t open your email or (worse) deletes it, you’re nowhere. Make sure you have an attention-grabbing subject line. Go to the newsstand and look at some magazine headlines. Use them as a model for your own.

2. Choose subject lines that ask questions or include the prospect’s name

If you have a referral, put the referrer’s name in the subject line (i.e., “Jane Jones recommended I contact you”).

3. Keep it short and to the point

Your email should not be more than one screen in length. Remember that your prospect may be reading it on her desktop or BlackBerry.

4. Make it about them

Make sure your email focuses on the benefits you and your product or service can achieve for customers.

5. Include a call to action

Make sure your message includes this important element. What action do you want your prospect to take? If you want a phone call, say so. Don’t expect your prospect to guess. It’s your job to ask.

6. Do not include attachments

Again, your prospect may be reading your email on his desktop or BlackBerry. In addition, attachments may get caught in spam filters and prevent your email from being delivered.

7. Do not use HTML or fancy graphics. See above.

Email can be a very effective prospecting tool. With these strategies, you can increase the chances that your email will be the beginning of a long and happy client relationship.

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