Despite the attention given to social media, most business communication takes place via email. There are three reasons why email dominates and will continue to dominate:
- Everyone in business uses email. Other than the telephone, there is no other business technology that's as universal as email.
- Everyone's email system works with everyone else's while social media is fragmented into numerous incompatible systems.
- Email is equally useful for brief back-and-forth conversations (similar to texting) and for transmitting large documents.
Of all business emails, the most important are sales emails, which begin a sales process by connecting a seller to a potential buyer. With voice mail making cold calling impractical, sales emails are the primary way that most companies develop new business.
Unfortunately, most sales emails fall flat because potential customers don't bother to open, read, or respond to them. However, you can increase the likelihood of getting a response by avoiding the following trite and ineffective phrases:
1. "I hope you are well..."
The idea behind this phrases is to express positive concern for the customers so that they will think kindly on whatever you're about to propose. However, unless you're actually friends with somebody, inquiring about his or her health rings false.
2. "I am writing to you because..."
These are just wasted words. Customers already know that you're writing to them with some purpose in mind. Rather than pointing out that you're writing for a reason, jump immediately to the reason.
3. "In today's business world..."
Sentences that begin this way always end in a platitude, like "managers must be cost-conscious." Telling customers something that's painfully obvious doesn't make you seem like an expert. It makes you seem like you think the customer is stupid.
4. "[Our product] reduces costs and increases revenue."
Every product that's sold business-to-business makes these exact same promises. Unless you can put numbers on them, talking about cost savings and revenue growth is just so much empty noise.
5. "[Our product] enables/empowers users to..."
Either your product does "X" or customers do "X" with your product. The concept of "enabling" or "empowering" customers to do "X" adds extra verbiage and an unnecessary level of abstraction.
6. "[Our product] was designed specifically to..."
The idea behind this phrase is that "if it was designed to do 'X' it must be good at doing 'X.' " However, customers don't care about your design process; they just want to know how things will be better if they buy "X."
7. "I would like to know if you'd be interested..."
As a general rule, customers don't care about what you want. Stating your wants and needs keeps the focus on you rather than on what you can do for the customer. Your credibility suffers accordingly.
8. "I am absolutely certain you will enjoy..."
Really? Absolutely? Either you're exaggerating or you're insane, because you can't predict the future and you certainly can't read the customer's mind before the customer has even had a chance to think about your offering.
9. "Please don't hesitate to call me at..."
In addition to being corny, this phrase is presumptuous. It's like you're claiming that you're so busy that normally you'd resent it if the customer called, but in this case you'd be delighted.
10. "For more information, visit our website..."
First, your customers know that there's information on your website, so pointing that fact out is wasting words. Second, most customer are in a constant state of information overload anyway. Just put the URL after your signature.
11. "How does your calendar look next week?"
Asking for a telephone or face-to-face meeting in a sales email is inappropriate. The most you can expect from a sales email is a reply to your email, which may lead to a back-and-forth that eventually leads to an actual meeting.
12. "If I don't hear from you, I'll call you."
This phrase pops up after the call-to-action as a "hedge" in case the customer doesn't reply or call. However, this phrase negates the call-to-action because why should customers bother to call you if you're going to call them anyway?