If you’ve never had someone go dark on you over email, don’t bother reading this blog article.
But if you’re like everyone else, at least every now and again, you probably struggle to get people to respond to your sales emails.
Is it wrong for us to say that sounds closer to what you are experiencing in the real world? If in fact it is closer, don’t sweat it. Use these three negotiation tactics in your emails to increase the chances of your leads hitting “reply”—bringing you closer to the business outcomes you’re aiming for.
1. Open with a no-oriented question
First things first: You won’t get a reply if your recipient never opens your message. The easiest way to increase the chances that you get a click is by writing a subject line with a no-oriented question (more on that in a little bit).
According to Mailchimp, the average business has a 20.81 percent open rate (check out its benchmark data for more industry-specific information). So, right off the bat, nearly four out of five people aren’t engaging with your messages in the first place.
However, it’s likely not because your clients and prospects are actively ignoring you. There’s a more innocent reason: We all get a ton of email. A recent study, for example, found that the average office worker receives 121 emails every day (and also sends out 40).
When we have more emails than we immediately have time for, we’re forced to prioritize. We open our inboxes, scroll through subject lines, and—based on which emails feel most enticing—make a decision on which ones we’re going to click on, the order we’re going to click on them in, and what we’re going to ignore or delete.
Simply put, using a no-oriented question will make your subject lines rise to the top of this pile.
Why? No-oriented questions give readers the illusion of control—something that is critical to gaining the upper hand in any negotiation. Additionally, by leading with a no-oriented question—and by not aiming for a “yes” when dealing with people, which in fact is different than how they are accustomed to being dealt with—you come across as more trustworthy.
We are all inclined to avoid provoking no for the sake of agreeableness, when in fact you improve the chances that you pique each recipient’s curiosity and at the very least, get them to click on your message to see what it says.
Not sure what a no-oriented question might look like? Try using one of these subject lines:
- “Have you decided to give up on x?"
- “Are you walking away from x?”
- “Did you decide to go away from x?”
The terms “giving up” and “quitting” are especially effective, because human nature dictates people absolutely hate being quitters. If this strategy feels too bold or slightly uncomfortable for you initially, you’ll get over it a few minutes later when your prospects quickly get back to you—something we see happen all the time.
2. End your email on a positive note
No-oriented questions are integral to ensuring someone who’s gone dark on you engages with your next message. But that’s only one element to sales email magic.
Remember, the last impression is the lasting impression. To this end, you need to make sure that the end of your email provides a clear call to action or leaves readers with some positive thoughts to dwell on.
Consider ending your message by asking a simple question: “How does this sound?”
But choose your words carefully. Note the differences between two similar questions: “How does this sound?” and, “Does this sound good?” It is likely obvious which of these is a better question, if it’s not obvious, refer to the previous segment of this article.
Finally, instead of using the same closing as everyone else—e.g., “Best” or “Sincerely”—try a new approach. Something like “Humbly” or “The very best regards,” will be better received simply because it stands out in a refreshing way from the hundreds of other email signatures your readers see every day.
3. Use email softeners
Here’s another little trick that should drive responses. When you’re done writing out an email, read it out loud to yourself and add in phrases like “I’m sorry” and “I’m afraid” in every place they fit. Email softeners are one example of how you can use tactical empathy to get a better response out of your counterpart.
Here’s what this might look like:
- “I’m afraid that if this issue doesn’t get resolved, it could lead to additional problems.”
It sounds better than the alternative, doesn’t it?
- “If this issue doesn’t get resolved, it could lead to additional problems.”
By leading with no-oriented questions, ending on a positive note, and using email softeners wherever they fit, you’re bound to get more replies.
But that’s only half the battle. The biggest mistake we see is that, after finally earning a reply thanks to all of that hard work, most people don’t have a follow-up plan. If you’re not prepared with your next question, such as, “How should we proceed?” or, “What would you like us to do next?” then this golden opportunity might slip through your hands. And then you’re back to where you started. Following up with an aim at implementable next steps where they move into the problem solver position is paramount.
Once you have these three techniques under your belt, check this out to learn how to be even more persuasive over email.