I got this email from a sales professional last week:
My initial response was, YES, definitely do this.
I’ve been marketing myself, as a job seeker, and then my business, for 9+ years. What I’ve learned is that if you do not put yourself in front of people, they forget about you. You are responsible for getting and staying in front of your audience.
I’ve also learned that the initial contact is just barely breaking the ice. They key is to get in front of them regularly, as appropriate. That is one reason why you have CRM systems. If your company doesn’t provide a CRM system to you, then use JibberJobber. If your company does provide a CRM to you, but you are making great friendships and professional contacts that you want to take to your next job, then use JibberJobber 🙂
Here are my specific thoughts and reactions to this person’s questions:
Is this going to be okay with your company/boss? I can’t imagine a sales professional getting into trouble for sending this type of email, but you might want to check with your boss. They might know something about a customer they fired (that you shouldn’t get in touch with), or they might point you to some tools or queries to make what you want to do easier.
Should it be one bulk email (BCC, of course!) or multiple individual emails? Pros and cons of both. I would say it depends on a few things… where are you sending it from? If you send from a Gmail or Verizon or a personal account (which I wouldn’t recommend), they have daily sending limits. Going over those limits might get you in trouble (ie, getting locked out of sending email for 24 hours). If you bulk send from your work account, and your email server is on blacklists, count on maybe 5% of your emails getting through (I don’t know the percentage, but just assume hardly any get through). The idea of doing one bulk email is nice because it’s faster, but I’m not convinced it’s that reliable.
Sending individual emails is more reliable, I think, and you might do 20 – 50 each day. This will even help you manage the responses, over days, instead of all in the first day or two. But it will obviously take more time. The real question is how many emails are you sending? If it’s 10,000, do bulk and go from there. If it’s just a few hundred, send a few dozen each day until you finish.
About the “personal touch,” you can easily do that with individual emails… but you can also do it in bulk. There are programs you can use (like mailchimp, and even outlook) that can merge names with a general body of text…
What information should the email have? The number one purpose of this email is to introduce yourself. In doing that, you’ll reinforce the branding of your company (in other words, remind the customer that your company exists and has stuff for them). You should give them contact information… work and cell # (that’s how salespeople roll, right?). Keep the email short… don’t go into new products, etc. I would let them know I’m the new rep, I’m excited to be there, and I’m easy to reach (and I’m responsive). I want them to know that I’m their partner and want to help their projects be successful. I will include a one-liner about my company, like “we manufacture the best widgets for the _______.” so people can remember where I fit into their life. And, as overwhelming as this might sound, I invite them to call me in the next week (or two) and tell me what projects they are working on, what they have coming up, any issues from past projects with our stuff, etc.
I want this email to start the relationship, and invite them to let us take it to the next level. That might be a emails, it might be a phone call, it might be a face-to-face… but let me introduce you to me and let’s start a relationship.
How often should I follow-up? What should the follow-up have? Make sure this first email is not the last email. As a customer I know I need multiple communications before I trust you, and I need you to hit me at or around the right time (or, when I’m in the market to buy your stuff). I suggest doing a blast, en bulk, each month. This can be short, it can talk about new products, or it can talk about case studies where your products/services helped other customers. The last thing would be the most interesting read for me. It keeps me engaged (because it’s fun to read), and shows me that you understand that my success is important to me, and it’s also important to you. I’m not just a customer to help you meet your quota, but you really care. The key? MONTHLY.
How do I justify future follow-ups? What if I have nothing new to say or report? Then create something. Talk to your customers and ask them if they could share some of their wins with your list. If you don’t get those stories, then create information that will help others… suggestions, tips, best practices, industry news, etc. Don’t write too much – we all suffer from information overload, and you don’t want to be that email that I’m sure to delete.
Is that it? Will I be successful with this strategy? I don’t think so. I think you need to have an integrated sales/marketing approach… that is, pick up the phone. Meet customers in person. Don’t just rely on email. But you already knew that.
Now, get your email constructed, proof it for type-os and grammar, and make sure the messaging is exactly what your customers should understand, and then send it.