Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Sales criminals are attacking innocent inboxes again, and this time, they’re annoying prospects in a whole new way. Instead of sending rude and aggressive cold emails, some sales reps spam prospects with overly polite and annoyingly apologetic messages. This misguided sales rep is so afraid of offending anyone that she’ll never get a response, let alone close a deal.

What you’re about to see is an actual sales email that we’ve received in our own inbox, with names and pertinent details redacted. Prepare yourself – these sales crimes are real, and so are the clueless sales reps who hit send. We hope that by analyzing the worst of the worst sales emails, you will never make these terrible sales mistakes yourself.

Some sales reps have no idea how to write a sales email. These are their stories.

A Timid Proposition

Language is one of the most powerful sales tools in your arsenal, but it’s also the most misused. With every artfully-crafted sales email you write, you should think carefully about the words you choose and how you use them. Unfortunately, this sales criminal wasn’t thinking at all about which words would get a positive response from prospects while drafting this terrible email.

From the start, the email’s subject line sets a terrible tone – it couldn’t be more weak and unsure if the sales rep tried. Consider the words the rep chose to use here: “I am hoping you may help” Hoping is already a weak verb, and then adding “may” weakens the sentence even further. Even worse is the use of ellipses (…) which makes it seem like the rep is trailing off quietly, without finishing the sentence. There is nothing compelling in the subject line that would entice a prospect to want to click this email.

If a prospect opens the email at all (which is unlikely), the body of the email continues the same trend of apologetic and weak-sounding words. The rep starts off the email by apologizing to the prospect, saying “sorry to trouble you.” This is an awful way to begin a mutually beneficial sales relationship. An apology makes the rep seem powerless and puts her at a disadvantage. The rep continues to use the same weak language throughout the email, saying “would you mind” instead of just asking for help directly and powerfully.

The email also talks about a “previous inquiry.” However, there was no inquiry made by the person who received this email. This is a lie — adding insult to annoying injury. Even worse, the rep has the nerve to ask for a referral to a decision-maker on the team, without ever earning the right to ask for a favor. Why would a prospect ever refer this unsure and uninteresting rep to their boss? From start to finish, this sales email is an utter disaster.

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Improving the Pitch

This email is a tough one to save because it’s so weak and wishy-washy. There’s barely a call to action, hardly any value proposition, and it spends more time apologizing than offering value. A better email would use more powerful words and more direct sentences without any weak modifiers.

For example:

Re: Get Better CRM and Data Management Now

Hi Prospect,

As an employee at a quickly growing company, you’re all too familiar with the struggle to maintain a high level of data accuracy in your CRM. My company offers powerful tools to improve data quality and CRM adoption across the board.

Interested? Let’s set up a time to discuss this in more detail.

Best,
Confident Sales Rep

This email is direct, powerful, and completely confident. It states facts clearly, explains an interesting value proposition, and offers a strong CTA at the end. Instead of apologizing for the interruption, this cold sales email assumes that you have the right to talk to a prospect and are offering them something worth their time and money.

 

Hopefully, now you will never even consider sending a cold email with this type of terrible sales tactic in the future. Keep an eye out for the next edition of True Crimes: Cold Sales Emails for more lessons in perfecting your pitch.

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Adam Honig

    Hi Cara,

    Great post. Totally agree that being overly apologetic is not only bad for the sales process, but truly annoying to prospects and everyone involved in the sales cycle.

    At the same time, I think sales professionals need to watch their tone and not come across sounding like sales guys. (I wrote a recent post on how to avoid this.) The confident sales rep in the example above is no doubt sending an email pitch. I think softening the tone a bit and being more conversational would help with engagement.

    It is a tricky balance!

    Adam

  • Cara Hogan

    Thanks Adam! I completely agree. I think sales reps should definitely work on writing more conversational and less aggressive pitches. I was just trying to make a strong contrast to enforce my point. Writing great sales emails is always a challenge, and something every sales professional should work on daily.

    Glad you enjoyed the post!

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