Email as sales: prospecting with email

The entire function of sales prospecting is closely related to its gemological roots: find the gems from your raw ores and otherwise uninteresting rocks. Sales prospects, loosely defined, are those individuals who are qualified to buy and have expressed at least a minor amount of engagement with you.

For example, someone who searches for email marketing in Google and arrives at the WhatCounts web site via that search would be a prospect. Someone who signs up for a newsletter might even be a prospect, depending on your sales process.

What sort of information would be useful to a salesperson specifically interested in prospecting an email list? Here are three key areas to look at:

1. User-submitted information. If you have the ability to collect job title and company name, you’ll get far more mileage out of your email list than a list that is email address only. User-submitted information fulfills two important indicators for sales prospecting: first, the person is interested enough to fill out a form that’s longer than just an address, and second, the job title and company help assess authority to buy.

2. Users who have opened your emails more than once. Ideally, if you can separate out people by the number of different messages they’ve opened, you’ll see clearly who is the most interested in reading what you have to say. In turn, these folks may likely be more receptive to selling efforts.

3. Users who have shared your emails with their networks. Sharing takes engagement to an entirely new level for your prospects because sharing is a public endorsement that the prospect thinks what you have is of value.

Finding each of these metrics in your email service provider is fairly simple. To amplify their power (particularly on large lists), take the time to blend them together. Instead of just looking for people who have opened your messages, look for people who have opened your messages AND who have provided a job title or company in their registration. Instead of just looking at share with your network data alone, look at people who have opened and shared the most.


Once you’ve identified the specific micro-segments in your list – and out of 10,000 people, they may only be a few dozen – send them highly targeted, highly focused messages that acknowledge their level of engagement and invite them to speak with you, perhaps offering special incentives that normal prospects don’t receive.

Most importantly, look for changes in your data. If your open rates and data completion rates start to rise, take a look at your previous year’s data and see if the increase in rates correlates to an increased number of sales in however many days your sales cycle is.

For example, if you notice a sudden spike in open rates on the first of April and you have a 30 day sales cycle, see if, in other years, the spike occurred and if sales 30 days later increased. If so, you can get a head start on prospecting your database prior to April to hasten that cycle and present buying opportunities to people in your email list before your competition does. If you are exceptional at email marketing, you may even get your qualified prospects to complete the sale before the peak of the cycle occurs, effectively shutting out any competitors.

Try prospecting your email list with the suggestions above and sending very focused messages to see if you can hasten your sales cycle with effective email!

Christopher S. Penn

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