Last week, I provided the 7 secret rules for powerful sales emails. As I expected, that post has already proven useful. One reader tweeted she'd gotten a 24 percent response rate using those rules. For perspective, the typical sales email gets about a 1 percent response rate.

Consider that. A well-crafted sales email (as I teach it) can put 24 times (i.e., 2,400 percent) more customers into your pipeline. And since your pipeline is the beating heart of your company's profit, pay attention! This is important stuff!

In this post, I'll go through the process of critiquing a so-so sales email in order to turn it into an email that will generate plenty of hot sales leads.  If you're interested in hearing more details, here's a recorded webinar I did with ExecuNet.

Here's a real-life email I received earlier today. It's not a horrible email by any means; in fact, I'd say it was much better than average. However, it needs a significant rewrite if it's going to get a good response rate.

Here's the original:

Hi [customer's first name],
My name is Heather, I head up business development efforts with BrainMarket. I want to introduce you to BrainMarket PowerPort, the leading platform for distributive marketing. Our [customer's industry] clients have been taking advantage of:

  • Brand control and management
  • Enabling their sales team at the local level with corporate approved content
  • Creating and executing multi-channel campaigns

Understanding your business model, I am certain BrainMarket can provide a successful solution for [name of customer's company]. If you are not the most appropriate contact please point me in the right direction. I appreciate your time and look forward to helping where I can.

As I said, this is an above average email. Here's why:

  1. It is short enough so that the entire message fits on a single email page as displayed on a screen. I have seen sales mails that go on for several pages!
  2. Its purpose is to open a conversation with the customer rather than to provide information to the customer. That's the right idea, for sure.

However, despite these two strengths, the email has five serious problems that will reduce its response rate.

1. No opening hook.

A "hook" is something that intrigues the customer enough so that he or she reads the whole email. In an unsolicited email, the hook must come in the first 20 words or so, since that's as much as most people will read before moving on.

Furthermore, only about the first 10 words will appear on the Inbox list in the customer's mobile device. Since 60 percent of all emails are read (or ignored) on mobile devices, an early hook becomes even more important.

With that in mind, here's the beginning of the email with a word count:

Hi Geoffrey, My name is Heather, I head up business [10] development efforts with BrainMarket. I want to introduce you to [20]

There's nothing there that's interesting to the reader, so chances are this email will either be deleted or ignored.

2. Too self-centered.

Perhaps it's because they use Facebook too much, but writers of sales emails often seem weirdly obsessed with themselves and their own emotions. In this case, for example, the email contains the following:

  • My name...
  • I head up...
  • I want to...
  • I am certain...
  • I appreciate...
  • (I) look forward...

The first rule in selling (by email or otherwise) is that "It's not about you." Customers don't care about you, your company, what you want, or how you feel. Yes, you do have to identify yourself, but leave your emotions and opinions out of it.

3. Biz-blab and jargon.

The email contains too much marketing and industry jargon that is either irrelevant, confusing, or both:

  • business development efforts--This fancy verbiage for "sales" is supposed to sound impressive but actually it just sounds pompous.
  • leading platform--The word "leading" is personal opinion unless backed by an objective source. Even then it's confusing; leading in what way? In any case, "leading platform" sounds like something you'd find in a warehouse.
  • distributive marketing--What the heck does this mean? I'll bet it's a term that somebody in marketing coined to create a new product category of which the company can claim to have the "leading platform."
  • corporate approved content--This is marketing jargon. Even if the recipient knows what the term means, why is it important?
  • multi-channel campaigns--More marketing jargon. What "campaigns" are they talking about? Marketing campaigns? Sales campaigns? Political campaigns? And what does "multi-channel" mean? Different sales channels (direct, resellers, distributors)? Or different television channels? It's confusing as heck.
  • successful solution--I could live with the word "solution" but if you read the email carefully, there's no identified problem. So why is a "solution" needed?

4. No compelling reason.

Even if the recipient unpacks and decodes all the jargon, the email contains no problem statement, no articulation of why the recipient should spend time and energy thinking about any of this.

5. Unclear call-to-action.

In the unlikely event that the recipient is intrigued enough to respond to this email, exactly what does the seller want the recipient to do? The only explicit call-to-action is a referral request ("please point me in the right direction").

Is that really the desired outcome of the email? I think not.

My Rewrite.

Using the 7 secrets in my previous post and some of my other posts about sales emails, here's an email that will get a much higher response rate:

Hi [customer's first name],
Heather from BrainMarket here. Companies make more sales with consistent marketing. PowerPort can put proven sales tools into the hands of everyone who sells your product. If that sound useful, I can explain how it works.

As you can see, the first 10 and 20 words now contain a hook (two actually, both underlined):

Hi Geoffrey, Heather from BrainMarket here. Companies make more sales [10] with consistent marketing. PowerPort can put proven sales tools into [20]

I've also eliminated the biz-blab, removed the list of functions, explained why the product is worthy of attention (using only common words), and provided a crystal-clear call-to-action.

While there are other issues in the original email that I didn't address (such as the Subject: line), the email, as rewritten, will get opened far more frequently and get plenty of responses.