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Startups Sales Prospecting

4 Etiquette Rules of Email Prospecting

By Rebecca Hinds

Email communication consumes almost one-third of our days, according to research. We send and receive approximately 110 work-related emails each day. With so much time dedicated to email, why don't we devote more effort to proper email etiquette?

Poor email etiquette can wreak havoc on your customer relationships. Adobe’s most recent Email Consumer Survey found that 34% of respondents are annoyed by brand emails that are irrelevant to them. With email now being one of our most common methods of communication, it's important to take the time to adhere to proper email etiquette. Here are four do's and don'ts of email etiquette. 

1. Don’t spray and pray

With advancements in email technology, it is easier than ever to bombard our customers’ inboxes by sending emails in bulk. It is a luxury, not a right, to have access to someone’s email address and inbox. We shouldn’t abuse the privilege.

When salespeople oversaturate their customers’ inboxes, it drives customers to unsubscribe from their campaigns. The potential benefits realized from the small percentage of prospects that do respond to one-size-fits-all drip campaigns do not offset the costs of annoying the majority of prospects with a flood of boilerplate drip campaign emails.

We need to strategically fight for attention in our customers’ inboxes. Email campaigns should be personalized and highly targeted. Your first impression is especially important. In your first email to a prospect, your aim should be to communicate why your product or solution is uniquely positioned to help the prospect achieve his/her business objectives.

2. Plan your follow-ups strategically  

80% of non-routine sales require five follow-ups. Unfortunately, 44% of sales reps give up after only 1 follow-up. When sales reps do follow up with unresponsive prospects, they typically do it too often, in turn increasing the chances of annoyance and radio silence.

After an initial email is sent, be sure to follow up with contacts, but do so at a cadence that is not irritating. We recommend following a Fibonacci-like sequence:

  • Follow-up #2: 2 days after first follow-up
  • Follow-up #3: 3 days after previous follow-up
  • Follow-up #4 days after previous follow-up
  • Follow-up #5: 8 days after previous follow-up
  • Follow-up #6: 13 days after previous follow-up
  • And every month thereafter.

Tools such as Outreach and Yesware that allow sales reps to send drip campaigns at strategic intervals can be very helpful in reducing the manual effort involved in follow-up efforts.

When sending follow-ups, it’s also best practice to use the same email chain. This ensures that when prospects open a campaign email, they’re able to easily access the first email sent, which often includes the primary sales pitch and is most effective at communicating the value of the offering.

3. Use the BCC feature when orchestrating introductions

We’re fortunate to receive a lot of warm intros from our customers at Affinity. When responding to introductions, it’s good practice to use the BCC feature--with acknowledgment. Moving your original contact to BCC and overtly acknowledging it (for example, "Thanks, John. Moving you to BCC”), will preclude you from flooding your contacts’ inboxes. If one of your contacts kindly facilitates an introduction on your behalf, it’s poor etiquette to repay the favor by spamming them as you coordinate a meeting time with the other party.

The BCC feature has the added benefit of keeping the orchestrator of the introduction in the loop, letting them know that you've acted on the introduction. It avoids leaving them guessing as to whether you’ve followed up on the introduction. Perhaps your original contact wants to say on the thread. Using BCC affords the introduction facilitator full transparency, the option to remain on the thread if desired, and ensures that the ball is not dropped. 

4. Use the double opt-in before facilitating an introduction.

Our team at Affinity loves facilitating introductions and connecting people who can mutually benefit from meeting. We encourage each other to make intros to help our network expand. At the same time, we value our connections’ privacy.

While our impetuses behind facilitating warm introductions are usually well-intentioned, it's best practice to ask both parties you intend to introduce whether they'd in fact want to be connected. This is called the double opt-in, and it involves sending two separate emails to each party asking them to "opt-in" to the introduction.

Although the double opt-in approach requires additional work on your part, it’s well worth the effort. Perhaps one of your connections doesn’t want to be introduced to an individual due to conflict of interest. Perhaps they’ve already been introduced to the individual. Perhaps they’ve batted heads with the individual in the past and there’s a pre-existing sour relationship. Perhaps they simply do not wish to be introduced because they don’t see an opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship. It can be enormously disgruntling to be introduced to a stranger who you have no desire to connect with, who you cannot provide any benefit to, or who you cannot reap any benefit from.

It's easy to become lazy and haphazardly thumb out emails. The importance of email etiquette cannot be understated. Adhering to proper email manners and using Affinity to supercharge your email efficiency will help you convey a professional image and improve your communication with others.

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Startups Sales Prospecting