by Brittany Ferrera, Customer Success & Marketing Manager at Communications Edge Inc

Persuasive email templates are prospecting poison. Beware. I'll explain.

Two popular writing strategies in B2B sales email messages fail to provoke response.

These are:

  1. asking questions and/or
  2. using a persuasive message

... in your sales email template.

Both tactics under-perform or just plain fail. Because both result in tipping off customers to your motive: selling them something ... probably before they're ready to consider. 

When your customer reads these persuasive words it puts them in a vulnerable position. Not good.

  1. Asking questions biased to an outcome you seek (e.g. them inviting you into a sales or problem-solving discussion) threatens customers.
  2. Persuading customers to speak with you won't work much either.

While marketers think using persuasive sales email templates are good, they're not. Beware: Don't allow marketers to write sales email templates!

Wait, don't persuade?

Correct. Do not. Avoid persuasive tone altogether.

Persuading prospects in a cold---or any sales email---context is too dangerous. 

Instead, write copy allowing customers to persuade themselves---if, and when, they're ready for it. This strategy consistently delivers more value to both sides.

Let's consider your situation. Are you asking customers to become vulnerable to your (eventual) pitch?

You are if you are asking prospects to:

  • Answer questions which lead to an answer you want
  • Be persuaded by third-party research to form a conclusion you want

Nobody likes feeling vulnerable. Hence, your persuasive sales email template (or even website) copy may be under-performing or not performing at all.

Because your persuasive tone screams, "I'm trying to persuade you, so answering (at all) will entrap you!"

How persuasive sales email backfires

There is no shortage of sales gurus saying, “You must be Clear, Concise and Compelling … these are the 3 elements of effective outreach emails. Your value must be clear. You must be concise enough to earn attention. And you must be compelling enough to inspire them to take action. This is where your message convinces the other side ... and a clear call to action drives them to hit reply.”

But they’re wrong when it comes to the sales context. The above advice may work in a marketing context. But not in sales.

Being clear, concise and compelling (in persuasive sales email templates) is not what most prospects are responding to. Because it’s a spammy, MARKETING pattern.

Also, in many cases your being clear, concise and compelling is coming too soon. Your clients’ problem has yet to fully emerge and be fully appreciated.

The truth is, 90% (plus or minus) of your market is not aware the status quo is a problem. So they don't yet understand that meeting with you is needed—let alone relevant. Because their problem or need has yet to materialize.

So instead, messages need to be UNclear and spark curiosity… curiosity about a possible conversation with you… about a meeting. Where the client decides on their own. 

Instead, provoke thought neutrally

Today's most productive sellers use email to hint at problem solving ability. They also tend to be thought provokers and Challengers of the status quo.

That’s how they’re successfully engaging clients. They're helping customers feel an urge to reply and begin persuading themselves via a non-sales discussion.

This kind of writing does take a little work. Reprogramming yourself to not think, write and speak on the phone like a marketer does take effort. The other way is easier for sure. Because we see marketing coming at us all day long, we tend to follow that pattern and way of writing and speaking.

We all know what marketing looks like, so we inadvertently write sales emails that feel like marketing gimmicks. 

Be unclear. Break the pattern.

Instead make your words UNclear. Not persuasive. This does two things:

  1. It helps you STAND OUT by breaking the pattern clients see all the time. You don’t look like everyone else.
  2. It helps customers want to ask for conversation... ask for more clarity on the thought you just provoked.

You accomplish this because you were so incomplete, non-persuasive, unclear and unbiased to achieving your goal in the message.

Bottom line: NOT trying to appear credible, nor persuasive, nor compelling… and NOT presenting a call to action provokes better response.

For example: A call to action is a marketing construct. It has no business in a cold email outreach from a sales person… in most cases. The tone is inherently pushy.

This isn’t my experience alone nor my opinion. I’m sharing our Spark Selling students' collective experience, which might give you reason to respect and consider adopting this radically different approach. 

Good luck!


About the Author

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

Brittany Ferrara

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