Monday, June 23, 2014

How Modular Home Sales Reps Can Write a Successful Sales E-mail

When modular home sales reps send first time e-mails to potential “new to modular” builders, they must be short and make it easy to move to the next step.

Sales e-mails--the kind you send to builder to see if they're interesting in talking about your factory--are quite different. Because you don't have a relationship with the recipients, you don't have the right to put much demand on their attention.

Most sales e-mails are way too complicated.

What Doesn't Work and Why

Almost every sales e-mail reads as follows: (Note: I've numbered each section to make it easier to critique; the numbers wouldn't be in the actually e-mail, of course.)
  1. Subject: ACES Modular Home
  2. Hi [prospect name]! Hope you are well.
  3. ACES is the industry leader...[a paragraph about how wonderful ACES is.]
  4. Acme has the following products and services... [a bulleted "spray and pray" list.]
  5. Acme has served the following customers... [some big builders.]
  6. I would like to set up a 20 minute phone call to discuss how we can help you.
  7. If you need any further information, don't hesitate to call me at [number] or browse our website [website.]
  8. Sincerely, [sender's name and contact info]

To understand why this type of letter doesn't get a response, let's look at it from the perspective of the potential customer:

  1. The subject line means nothing to me, so I probably won't open it.
  2. I don't know you, so the greeting rings false and the concern for my health is bogus.
  3. Why should I care about your company?
  4. What does any of this have to do with me?
  5. I'm an small home builder; if you work with large enterprises then you're probably going to treat me like small potatoes.
  6. Are you effin’ kidding me? Like I have 20 minutes in my crazy schedule to hear some dumb-*ss sales pitch.
  7. Apparently, you think I'm so stupid that I can't find your phone number and website under your signature. Also, you apparently live in some cloud cuckoo land where I'm desperate to have a conversation with somebody who has already wasted three minutes of my time with this confusing e-mail.
  8. A final lie, since there's nothing sincere about anything in this e-mail.
It's amazing that salespeople get any response at all from this kind of dreadful communiqué. It's practically begging to be deleted.


A Method that Actually Works

Here's the structure for a sales e-mail that's more likely to get a response:

  1. Subject: [something relevant to the prospect]
  2. Dear [Mr.|Ms. prospect's last name]:
  3. I'm contacting you because I may be able to [potential benefit to the builder.]
  4. Companies like yours ([list]) build their modular homes [something quantifiable that leads to that potential benefit.]
  5. Reply to this e-mail and I'll e-mail you some details so that you can quickly evaluate whether it's worth your time to pursue this.
  6. [sender's name and contact info]

Here's why this structure works.
  1. The subject line engages the recipient to open the e-mail. Examples of "something relevant" would be a mutual contact, a recent change in the prospect's business, a factoid about a prospect's competitor, etc.
  2. While many industries and companies are informal, when you're contacting somebody for the first time, it's best to err on the side of formality. Nobody is ever insulted by formality.
  3. People always appreciate it when you get to the point quickly. From the builder's perspective the "point" is "what's in it for me." So tell them.
  4. This is your sales message, but stated from the builder's perspective. The customers in the list should be of similar size and shape to the prospect. If you don't have this list, just use "Our builders rely on us to."
  5. It's unrealistic to expect an initial e-mail to convince a prospect to commit time to meeting to you. Instead, you make the "next step" something trivial that indicates the prospect's receptiveness.
  6. The prospect is smart enough to figure out how to call you or access your website if required.

Attention Sales Managers: Don’t assume that your sales reps are sending out good first time emails to new builders. They simply have never been shown the right way and guess what? Your factory may never get another chance with this site builder if he deletes the message.


Today and I mean today, send this article to every single sales rep you have and let the professionalism of your company begin to show. If they need help composing this first time email, sit down with them and work together on it. Just do it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It takes more than an initial email it takes a nurturing and educational effort to understand the site builder psyche. Local markets, appraisals, codes, and regulations all impact the site builder and many sales reps or managers are unwilling or unable to relate. Sales reps and managers need to stand in the builder's shoes and relate a value relative to their market which is more than our factory uses 2x4 mate walls versus 2x3 finger joints it is how can you help me make $$ and deliver a quality product with a warranty and service that matters.

The email may open the door but the follow up keeps it open.