Are your sales emails “customized”​ or “personalized”​?

There’s an ongoing epidemic in sales which can be summed up in three words: bad cold email. We all hate getting it, yet we continue to send it.

I can’t tell you how many cold emails I’ve gotten pitching products from direct competitors. A simple Google search of “RepIQ” could prevent awkward situations like this.

But I really can’t blame salespeople for resorting to these tactics. Extremely demanding quotas, daily activity-based goals, and call-back rates of less than 1% make cold email an appealing sales tactic. Plus, sales reps are constantly bombarded with content promoting cold email strategies:

The three things your cold email needs!

Ten cold email templates guaranteed to get a 60% response rate!

Five tips for sending the best cold emails!

The four biggest cold email mistakes you need to avoid!

What these headlines omit is that cold email really isn’t all that effective. Open rates are poor and response rates are even worse. Not to mention “opens” and “clicks” fail to measure how many of those leads will actually convert to a paid customer. Odds are, nearly 99.5% of leads you cold email will never convert to a paid customer.

Many salespeople realize cold email is not helping them hit their sales goals. In order to combat this, new technologies have emerged which help reps send “personalized” emails. These “personalized emails” promise higher response rates and better sales conversations.

These tech tools use tags to insert a prospect’s {name} and {company name} into cold email blasts. The problem is, auto-generating a mass email using custom tags does not make it personalized.

There’s a big difference between customized and personalized sales emails.

Customized vs. Personalized

Here at RepIQ, we like to emphasize the difference between “customized” and “personalized” sales emails. Customized emails include tidbits of information which are unique to a prospect. This includes things like a prospect’s name, job title, and company name.

Personalized emails include contextual, timely information which creates a compelling sales case for the prospect.

Here’s an example:

Customized Email Excerpt: I noted your annual revenues this past year totaled $1,325,000. Are you looking to grow this figure in the coming year? We have helped our clients achieve up to a 6% increase in ARR in the first year of use alone.

Personalized Email Expert: I noticed this past year your ARR increased by 2%, compared to a 5% the previous year and 4% the year before that. Given this trend, I thought you might be interested in our sales solution. We have helped our clients achieve up to a 6% boost in ARR in the first year of use alone.

Which email do you find more compelling?

I’d guess most would agree the personalized email makes a more compelling sales case. So why is that most salespeople continue to send custom email in place of more well-researched personalized emails?

The Cold Email Illusion

One of the main reasons salespeople continue to rely on cold email is because it creates the illusion of results. It’s not uncommon to hear a sales rep brag: “I sent 1,000 emails last week and got a 40% open rate and 8% click rate.”

Reps have begun to see “opens” and “clicks” as indicators of sales success. Most fail to recognize that these stats have little impact on their real odds of generating high-quality prospects and ultimately closing new business.

In reality, an average buyer gets 100+ emails a day, opens just 23%, and clicks on just 2% of them. This lends itself to an average response rate of less than 1% for any given cold email campaign.

Some might argue that for the small time investment it takes to automate 1,000 emails, ten prospects is a worthwhile payoff.

But I would counter: how qualified are those ten prospects? What are the real odds of converting those ten prospects into paid customers? And even more importantly, what are the odds that if you do convert them that they will churn in less than a year?

I would argue the more realistic scenario is that your sales team wastes precious sales time chasing ten relatively unqualified leads. It’s no wonder 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting!

The Bad Cold Email Plague

Salespeople aren’t doing themselves any favors by sending custom emails in place of truly personalized email outreach. Here are just some of the problems associated with “customized” cold emails:

  • Prospects see right through them. It’s easy to spot an automated email, even if it includes custom information. This approach comes off as insincere and doesn’t help establish trust with a prospect.
  • They won’t set you apart. Today’s sales scape is more competitive than ever before. With a rise in SaaS-based technology the barrier to enter markets is lower. And with more open communication streams, buyers are being bombarded with sales messages left and right (the average buyer receives +100 emails a day). It’s crucial to find a way to set yourself apart by having more meaningful conversations with prospects. Being another lifeless cold email cluttering a prospect’s inbox isn’t going to give you a competitive edge.
  • They don’t help you zone in on high-quality leads. Cold email campaigns can have you monitoring irrelevant metrics and chasing leads who will never buy.

If salespeople dedicated less resources to mass email campaigns and focused their time on a personalized sales approach instead, it would have wide-ranging positive effects. Here are just some of the benefits of personalizing your sales outreach:

  • Better response rates. Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.
  • Establish a better relationship with prospects. A personalized email can help establish a positive rapport with prospects, leading to more productive sales conversations.
  • Stop wasting time on prospects who will never buy. Hone in on qualified leads.

Putting an End to Bad Cold Email: It Starts at the Top

By now you might agree that cold email really isn’t all that great. You might also agree that the “results” from cold email are more of an illusion than any indication of sales success. But this leaves the question remaining, how do you put an end to bad cold email? How do you start using a personalized sales approach to maximize your sales team’s impact?

The truth is, replacing ineffective cold emails with personalized sales outreach starts at the top of the funnel, with more purposeful prospecting. It all starts with knowing and deeply understanding who you’re selling to. And here at RepIQ we believe the best way to understand your customers is by creating an ideal customer profiles (ICP).

An ideal customer what?

An ideal customer profile is a set of predetermined demographic, technographic, and sales trigger characteristics which determine the leads you target. In essence, creating an ICP helps you hone in on only customers who have a predetermined fit and need for your product. These customers are least likely to churn and most likely to become brand advocates by providing testimonials, referrals, and more. Teams that focus their sales efforts on a ICP can achieve benefits like:

  • Shorter sales cycle
  • Higher average contract value
  • Increased MRR
  • Lower churn rate
  • Happier customers

An ICP is made up of three main key criteria:

  • Demographic characteristics: location, industry, company size, annual revenues, etc.
  • Technographic characteristics: Salesforce, Marketo, G-Suite, etc. (What technology does the customer use to power their operations?)
  • Sales triggers: company expansion, new product announcement, hiring, good or bad financial quarter, additional funding, acquisition, press coverage, increase in costs/expenses, etc. (Time-sensitive events which indicate it’s the right time to buy.)

A complete ICP looks something like this:

Image Source: Hyde Park Angels Blog

I provide a more in-depth approach to creating an ICP in this post.

Timely Selling is the Future of Sales

At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. That means 56% are not ready to buy and 40% are poised to begin. Imagine if your sales team focused 100% of their time on that 43% who are ready or poised to be ready to buy?

This is why the “sales triggers” component of an ICP is so critical to the success of your personalized sales strategy. Understanding not only why prospects buy but also why they’ll buy now is important. There’s a big difference between customers who are a good fit and those who will actually buy. Sales triggers can help you efficiently identify the later.

Most sales emails touch on why a prospect should buy, but how many provide a personalized contextual case for why now is the time to buy?

Understanding the key factors which lead to the decision to buy can help you identify and leverage sales triggers in your sales process. While many salespeople understand who their target customers are in terms of job title, company size, revenues, industry, etc., most fail to understand the single most compelling factor that leads to a purchase decision.

The easiest way to discover this? Talk to your current customers.

Schedule discovery calls with a few of your best customers. Not sure who your best customers are? Look for those who:

  • Have been with you the longest
  • Have had a clear success-case with the product
  • Have had low customer support needs
  • Have a high contract value
  • Have increased their LTV through upsells/expansions
  • Are brand advocates

During your discovery call ask:

  • What triggered your initial interest in the product?
  • What was the single most compelling factor in your decision to buy?
  • Why was it the right time for you to make a purchase?

Use insights from these conversations to identify sales triggers you can hone in on to create a timely sales approach.

Using Timely Selling for Personal Sales Outreach: Putting it All Together

So far I’ve made a case for why cold email stinks, specified the difference between customized and personalized sales email, and discussed how an ICP and timely selling can help ramp up your sales efforts. Now it’s time to put all the pieces together. Here’s a seven-step process to put an end to your bad cold email and implement a personalized sales approach:

  1. Set a sales goals

It’s important to have a goal in place to measure the success of your new sales strategy. Some good goal ideas include increase revenue by X%, reduce churn by X%, increase the size of your pipeline by X%, or generate X number of quality leads.

2. Revise your activity goals/desired metrics to achieve goal

Many sales teams have activity goals like X number of emails sent/week or X number of dials/day. While implementing a personalized sales approach it may be necessary to revise these activity goals. The point of personalizing selling is to focus on quality over quantity. Volume or activity-based metrics may not be helpful in achieving your new personal sales approach.

3. Developed a clearly defined ICP (including sales triggers)

Using the steps outlined in this post (or more detailed steps in this guide), create an ICP. Make sure to hone in on at least one sales trigger which will help you create a timely sales approach.

4. Do thorough research before reaching out to prospects

Research and discover leads who match your ICP. I recommend using RepIQ’s lead generation tool to do this. Before reaching out to prospects, do your research and discover timely, relevant insights to leverage during the sales conversation.

5. Write personalized emails with a clear value prop/use case

Using the research you completed in step #4, write personalized outreach emails with timely value propositions and clear use-cases.

6. Track progress & revise as needed

Monitor the goal and metrics you set in steps 1 and 2 and revise your strategy as needed over time.

The process of steering your sales team away from cold email and towards a personalized sales approach can be challenging but rewarding.

Smart Sales Technology Powers Personalized Sales

I believe sales is going through a transformative time. Buyers are expecting more from salespeople. They don’t want to be sold to. They want to be helped. Sellers need to step up to the plate and discover ways they can provide real value to potential customers.

A personalized sales approach can help reps do just this. With personalized selling, I see the market as a place where buyers and sellers mutually benefit. Sellers hone in on and sell to higher value customers and waste less time on leads who aren’t a good fit. Buyers get connected with products and services they have a clear and present need for.

Here at RepIQ we believe that smart sales technology can help empower sales reps to personalize their sales process. Just as emerging technology once allowed for the “cold email” era to begin, we believe that new technologies can help put a stop to bad cold email.

At RepIQ we create technology which helps salespeople create an ideal customer profile and discover leads who are a perfect match. We also provide data enrichment and intelligent real-time insights to help reps create a compelling, personalized sales strategy for every lead.

There’s no doubt in our minds: salespeople need timely, intelligent insights on companies to create a compelling sales case. In today’s ultra-competitive market, it’s essential. And we believe smart sales technology can empower reps to do just that.

I’m curious: what do you wish your sales tech stack could help you do? Let me know in the comments below.

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