Time to read: 2.5 minutes. I was stunned. Happy and stunned. Because I had figured out how to make a sales appointment via email. Yet it happened in a really weird way. I avoided asking for the appointment. Seriously. You should too. Instead, help the prospect self-qualify the appointment.
Through a quick exchange of short emails, prospects will become curious about your solution to their problem or goal. Curious enough to ultimately ask YOU for the appointment.
The more my clients and I practice this, the more appointments set. Can’t argue with that!
Success at making sales appointments via email is mostly about:
Here’s the gist of what works: Reply to the prospect’s invitation (to talk about your “scratch to their itch”) by resisting the urge to talk about your product. Instead, help the buyer reveal “the conversation already going on” in their head.
Their real concern.
Here is a real life example and a proven cold email template.
(Bye the way, I give a handful of my best cold email templates to my coaching clients. I provide a few free to blog readers here.)
Ok. One reader of this blog named Connor took advice from me and turned it into a response. I love when that happens.
Connor emailed me saying, “Your technique for getting permission to have a longer conversation is working great. What I would like to know is what angle I should take once permission is given… or the curiosity has sparked a response.”
Here is the exact first touch / cold email template Connor used to earn the first response.
Subject Line: Is this a fit for you, ___ [first name]?
Savings accounts, bonds, and CD’s are currently earning less then 1% while the cost of living rises at 1.7%. There are other places to allocate your resources that offer a competitive rate while retaining a low risk mindset for your savings and also provide tax advantages.
In the interest of time would a short email conversation makes sense? Let me know what you decide, _____ [first name]?
Thanks for considering,
The prospect responded with,
“Yes that is something I would be interested in discussing. What type of investment options do you offer?”
Connor is a financial adviser who offers different investment options. He says, “The products don’t sell themselves. The (sales) process we use conveys the value of our products.”
Thus, it’s critical for him to get into the flow of a buyer-focused conversation. This is what works best for most of my clients who are making appointments via email.
After his successful cold email, Connor asked me, “Do you have a proven approach to moving this situation forward and getting the appointment or should I explain what the product I was referring to in my response?”
Great question. So, what comes next? How do you follow-up effectively when the buyer invites you to reply? How can you work to make a sales appointment via email?
Spark their curiosity. Again. Just like you did in your cold email template. However, now is also the time to over-focus on your prospect’s pain, fear or goal.
This often means resisting the urge to pitch even when invited to!
The idea is to help the potential buyer to guide you … so you can make the best response. Here’s how it’s done. In your first reply, ask them to talk about their situation a bit more. Also, if needed, reveal “just enough” about what you have in mind to keep them curious about what (exactly) you’re thinking about recommending.
This helps build a conversation about what is most important to them—not what you’re selling. Show the prospect you only want to talk about them (for now). Write in a way that helps the other side feel safe. Help them to vent frustration, fear or excitement about what’s important to them—at this exact moment.
This helps the buyer become more open to being curious about your solution. Even if they may not (yet) realize they need what you’re offering.
In Connor’s case, the prospect responded by asking about investment options. That’s what Connor sells. He used a “near-term buying first-touch” approach. And the buyer is curios about his solution to the problem. Success!
However, this can be a dangerous situation.
The best way forward in the “second touch” email is over-focusing on the prospect. Here’s what I mean.
In Connor’s case, the buyer is opening the door to talk about his solution, the product. However, it’s best to resist this temptation. And never ask for the meeting via email.
Instead, attract the appointment to you. This is how to make email work for you. (not the other way around!)
To earn another reply, ask one brief but purposeful question. Two max. This will prompt your reader to reply in a way that qualifies the lead. It also helps you know how, exactly, to respond and move the discussion forward.
For example, Connor should reply,
“I will be glad to talk options, ___ [first name]. But I need to know more about you, please, to help. Are you invested in CD’s, bonds (low rate options) now? Are you doing everything possible to protect yourself from outliving your retirement savings?”
Also, notice above how Connor plants a seed of doubt in the mind of the prospect in the final sentence. This helps the prospect want to hit reply without delay—telling Connor what is on their mind right now about protecting themselves.
That’s Step 1 of how to make a sales appointment via email.
New customer prospects will actually tell you what will (eventually) trigger them to buy. Sometimes in the second email you receive from them. Choosing your words carefully will trigger what I call an avalanche response. You’ll get a bunch of information back, fast.
The goal of your second email message is not to pitch your wares nor set an appointment. Instead, it is to:
By identifying what matters most to the buyer you’ll know exactly how to reply. You’ll do so in a way that builds credibility and curiosity in your solution. Remember: An emotional reply from a prospect validates how important a given issue may be to them. Additional curiosity (more questions) indicates the lead is a good one.
Bottom line: Your second email message should yield a response that qualifies the lead. Try to trigger an avalanche by tapping into the emotional element. Each reply a prospect sends you should be telling you exactly what to talk about in your next email message. That’s how to make a sales appointment via email!
In your replies, always answer questions the prospect asks—but do so in ways that create more questions in their minds. Hold a little back. This helps create more curiosity. This helps you attract the appointment to you. The buyer will see the appointment as a way to short-circuit all of this emailing. He or she will want to get right to the point with you!
Structure the way you reply. Be deliberate about it.
Don’t be coy. This isn’t about trickery or dangling a carrot in a way that will annoy the prospect. Be direct and specific. Yet hold back on the details. This will help your prospect feel an urge to ask you about them.
Photo credit: Drew Leavy
Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you're selling. He's a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe. Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.