One often overlooked fact is that success online is often predicated by who you know. This isn’t all that different from offline business, either. With the rise of email, its not always practical to pick up a phone and make a call, either. That doesn’t mean that you should forego these networking opportunities.
Instead, you should sharpen your email pitching skills.
When making sales pitches, you want to make sure that you keep things simple. Get to the point. No one wants to sit through two paragraphs of updates on your life and ass-kissing. They want to know what you are emailing about. Make sure you don’t ramble.
Address them by name. Let them know who you are, and establish the connection and your reason for emailing. Conveying confidence through your message is equally as important as it is in a face to face conversation.
Here I will cover how to effectively pitch yourself, your service, or your idea through emails.
In order to understand what makes a pitch great, you first have to have a good idea of why many pitches fail.
Why Email Pitches Miss the Mark
- Too much fluff. Successful business owners don’t have time to sift through your life story. If you’re pitching them an idea, you shouldn’t be trying to make them empathetic to your situation. You should be selling them on why it will be of a benefit to them.
- Length issues. It’s either too short, too long, or not detailed enough. Finding the right length depends on the industry and the individual you are emailing and must be played by ear.
- Not pitching the right person. You have to make sure that you are making the pitch to the right individual.
- It’s just not an enticing pitch. Sometimes your “good idea” seems run of the mill to others. Live and learn.
Of course, these are basic hurdles that can be easily overcome with some dedication and practice.
Understand that Most Pitch Responses and Wins Don’t Happen as You’d Expect
Also understand that most pitches are not going to happen the way that you would expect. Sometimes, people won’t even respond to you – they’ll just hit the delete button. Other times you’ll receive a negative response.
But every now and then – it will work out the way that you had been hoping. This is what we are working toward.
Your goal should be to increase your success rate when pitching.
Try not to get bent out of shape when things don’t go your way. That’s just the way the ball rolls.
Instead look at it like a case study. Try different strategies. Gain an understanding of what approaches work, and tailor your pitches to the individuals.
Research the Individuals You Pitch To
Its important to remember that there is actually an individual on the other end of every email that you send. It is important to make sure that you tailor your email to the individual.
Some of the different ways that you can go about researching someone before sending your pitch over;
- Read their website – thoroughly. It’s amazing how often people overlook this simple task. You can learn a lot about a person by reading their company page/personal blog and applying certain aspects to your pitch.
- Check their LinkedIn and other social media. Familiarize yourself with their background. Know what they have done in the past and find ways to integrate that into your email pitch where it applies.
- Know the company they work for. This is the brand that they represent. It’s best to be familiar with their goals.
- Use Bullet points. Just like a good blog post, you want to separate your important information from the blocks of text so that they can be easily identified. Think of these as an opportunity for additional headlines.
- Offer something for free. Think about what you could potentially offer for free. It could be a consultation, a beta test for your service, or anything else. Offering something for free shows goodwill.
Most are much more responsive when they are treated as an actual person, and not as some commodity to be bargained for or bargained with. Don’t talk to them like you would your football buddies – but don’t be afraid to be straightforward and honest with them
The subject of your email is the most important aspect of any pitch.
There are several ways to approach a subject line. The first thing to remember is to avoid being generic in any way possible. If these individuals are pitched by people like you on a regular basis they are likely tired of seeing the same old pitches. You want to stand out.
A few of the things that you can do to ensure that your subject lines stand out from the rest include;
Don’t Make It About You
You never want to come across as callous or self-centered. It isn’t about you – it’s about them.
When they first receive the email the first thing they are going to ask themselves (internally, subconciously) is “Why should I open this?”
“Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.” – Jonah Sachs
The answer to that needs to be made apparent from the subject line, and making the subject line about yourself isn’t going to convince them to open it.
Instead try posting your pitch in an interesting, unique way. Consider these three pitches and ask yourself how likely you would be to open them;
- Dave, What If I Told you I Could Save You $50 a Day on Advertising Expenses?
- Why Are You Still Using ____, when _____ Costs Less and Provides More?
- How Our New Meeting Technique Saved Our Business
These are intriguing headlines, and give the user a good idea of what the pitch could potentially be about.
Emailing a personal pitch doesn’t have to be much different than putting together an email marketing campaign. You want to make sure that you have a catchy headline.
Asking questions naturally asks the reader to answer the question in their head. By asking them straightforward (borderline daring) questions about their business, they might be more intrigued to see what you are talking about.
The second example, in particular, is one that catches eyes. You are mentioning a service that they currently use, and are suggesting an alternative might be better for their situations.
Don’t be afraid to appeal to their subconcious, or use emotions in your pitches. The goal is to elicit a response. Whether it is negative, positive, or neutral – receiving a response gives you additional opportunities to present tailored pitches to these indviduals.
Promote a Benefit
Why should they open your email. Then, why should they buy into what you are selling? Because it benefits them in some way.
This isn’t a charity case. They aren’t going to purchase your product just because they feel you deserve it. Instead, they are going to purchase your product because they feel in provides them with something in return. It’s to a mutual benefit, not a singular benefit.
In the earlier examples you can see direct examples of promising benefits.
In the first example, you are stating that you could save them money (and a great deal of it at that, for small businesses). In the second you are offering to save them money and extend their functionality in some way. In the third, you are offering to teach them a new technique that has shown success in other companies.
“My favorite pitching tip, and one that works quite well, is to seek out journalists who talk about my client’s competitors, find out what they like about them, and then find ways that our product/service trumps our competitor.” – Breana Loury, Owner of Loury PR
Inside the Email
Past the subject line, which is what gets them to initially open the email – you then need to figure out how to go about pitching them.
The first thing that you need to do is to determine why you are emailing and use that as a jumping off point.
Maybe you are emailing them to schedule an appointment. Or asking them to beta test your new product. Or simply touching basis with them and asking if they would like to grab a beer at the next conference.
All of these are different problems, require different solutions, and need to be approached in a different way.
You have to decide what kind of pitch you are going to be sending them.
Types of Email Pitches
There are several different types of email pitches that you can use to your advantage.
At their most basic, all pitches can be divided down into two categories; warm, and cold. Warm pitches refer to emailing individuals that you already have an established relationship with. Cold pitches refer to pitches to individuals that you have no previous relationship with.
Warm pitches are often the easiest to write. Start your email with a personal greeting and a reminder of where they know you from if one is required. You can also mention what the two of you have in common.
When writing warm pitches it is fine to take on a more personal tone, especially if you have already met on several occasions and they have a good idea of who you are. If you remember something that they have told you about themselves, include that in the beginning of your pitch.
Finally, close your pitch with some mention of understanding that they might not be interested, and that it is okay. It’s business, but you don’t want people to feel like you feel upset that they have turned down your request.
Cold pitches are a bit trickier. They are the cold call of the email world. For these pitches, start with a healthy amount of research before emailing them. The more you know about them – the better you can tailor your pitch to the individual. You want to make sure that you are able to build trust with them to the best of your ability. Personalize your email to them, their company, and their interests.
After a quick introduction get to the point quickly. Pose them a question in the same way that you might in the subject line and then tell them how they should be answering that question in their mind (with your service, product, or proposal).
Be short, and simplify your pitch. These people don’t know you. They don’t want to read five paragraphs from you, and aren’t likely to be willing to dedicate a significant amount of time to your email. Make it quick.
Appeal to emotional triggers. Tell them what the benefits of your service or proposal might be, then move on.
Generating leads through an email are often times cold pitches. Your goal is to introduce yourself, your company/service/product, and then gather their information.
Don’t let them know that you are generating leads. You don’t want them to feel like they are being sold to. Let them know that you are emailing them to start a discussion and let them know why you thought they might be the perfect person for this purpose.
You want to make sure that you are appealing to emotional triggers as you would with any other type of pitch, but you also want to keep things conversational. They don’t need to physically fill out an email form to be considered a ‘lead.’
Sometimes proposals are best delivered in a face to face conversation, or through other means like Skype, Google+ Hangouts or other meetings software. Setting an appointment can be a cold pitch or a warm pitch.
For those that you have an established relationship with it can be as sample as telling them that you’d like to speak with them further about a certain subject and then suggesting an appointment time, or asking them for their own.
For setting appointments through a cold pitch, you have to include some of the principles we talked about earlier. Appeal to their emotions. By definition, you’ll have to be a bit more “salesy” in your approach.
Let them know what benefits you are offering, and suggest a time for the appointment while being sure to let them know that they can reschedule at any time.
Ending Your Pitch
At the end of any pitch there are some common courtesies that need to be included at the end of any sales pitch. To start, make sure that you are providing as much detail as possible to ensure that they can make the decision that best benefits you.
Include a signature, and provide numerous different ways to reach you. Even if they turn down your proposal – they might still choose to follow you on Twitter or connect with you on LinkedIn just based on the fact that you took the time out of your day to email them.
A sales pitch can be a difficult thing to craft. Like any type of marketing material – a healthy knowledge of copywriting can go a long way toward helping you to do so in a straightforward way that yields results.
No matter what you are pitching, understanding what you are pitching, who you are pitching to, and how you might be of use to them can help you to be more successful overall.