Selling By Email – 5 Mistakes Most Salespeople Make

When I working with sales teams all over the world, Sales Managers and Directors often tell me that they believe all salespeople are inherently lazy. I’m not sure I agree with that hugely sweeping statement, but I do think salespeople often look for the quickest way to do something.

I think this is partly down to the fact that a lot of salespeople only start earning real money when their commission kicks in, so any task that isn’t directly related to bringing in new customers, orders or money, they tend to try and find the quickest way to do. Hence why the managers think they’re lazy.

As salespeople though, this quickest route habit can often cause us problems. Particularly as technology has advanced and email is a popular communication method for many. However, this often results in salespeople resorting to email communication – at the expense of their own sales figures! Have a look at the examples of common email sales mistakes below, and see if any ring true for you.

Email Sales Mistake Number 1 – Using It To Follow Up

Let’s look at this from a new business perspective. You’ve spoken with or met with a client previously, you’ve started to develop rapport, but they’ve probably got an existing supplier, or existing way of doing things. So you didn’t pick up their business from your initial call or appointment.

Your boss has probably been putting pressure on you about your sales figures or your sales pipeline. So you decide you need to follow up with a few people, this particular prospect included. So what do you do next? Pick up the phone and call them, establish their current situation and needs and potentially see how you may be able to add value to what they’re trying to achieve over the next few months? Close for another appointment, attempt to dislodge the existing supplier or existing process and pick up their business? Or send an email?

If you’re in the email category, stop it! Right now!

Email Sales Mistake Number 2 – Just Adding People To A Mailing List

Another great idea from the marketing department. Sending an email newsletter or similar to keep people informed of your products and services. The funny thing is, how many newsletters do you get that you don’t read, or you don’t read in full? I bet it’s quite a few. If you don’t know the sender well, you probably don’t read it at all. Sometimes even when you know the sender well you still don’t read it.

Don’t sit back and think that just because someone is on your generic email list that that’s helping you ‘sell’ to that person. In most cases it isn’t. The responsibility to move that person through your sales pipeline is still yours.

Email Sales Mistake Number 3 – Sending Mainly Flyers By Email

Please tell me you don’t do this? Even worse if the email is titled ‘offer of the month’ or similar. If the person hasn’t used you before, you’re relying on luck for the person to buy from you. And the more competitive your marketplace and the higher the price of what you sell, the less likely people are to buy.

Plus as mentioned in my last point above, it’s hardly personal communication to that prospect, is it? Is this really the professional sales job you were employed to do? If this is the best you can do in terms of sales persuasion, you’re in trouble!

Email Sales Mistake Number 4 – Responding To New Sales Enquiries Via Email

Let’s think about this one. You or your company has expended time, money and effort in producing the incoming sales lead. Whether it’s come from a previous phone call by you or a colleague, networking, advertising or over the internet, you’ve managed to get a precious incoming sales lead.

The next question is, what are you going to do about it? Pick up the phone and find an excuse to start a dialogue to understand their needs in more detail, position a next step in the sales process and look for some commitment from that person. Or just send a quick email giving some information and leaving them to wander on their own, with no idea how motivated they are to purchase, their timescales, or what other options they’re considering?

Looks like you’ve missed your chance again, doesn’t it? In most cases if they come back to you, it’s because when they enquired with your competition, they did a worse job than you did. Is this really the best way of dealing with that precious incoming sales lead do you think?

Email Sales Mistake Number 5 – Sending Proposals Or Quotes By Email

Now it’s time for my personal favourite! Sending proposals or quotes by email. You’re in field sales and you’ve had the meeting with a potential client, the prospect then asks you to send a proposal and you put it in an email. Now you’re in trouble.

Why on earth didn’t you position your offering when you were face to face with the client? When you could read their body language and reactions to your offering and your price best, when you could judge whether you had got the proposal right or not, when you had the best chance of getting them to say ‘yes’?

Even if you needed time to put the details together, why on earth didn’t you organise a second meeting to discuss it in more detail? You’re giving other salespeople a better chance to win that business over you.

Note – if you’re in internal sales or do most of your selling over the phone, it may not be practical to go out and see the prospect face-to-face, and if you can’t get them to come and see you, you’re almost forced to send the proposal via email – however, you know when you do this it’s less persuasive.

So Why Do Field Salespeople Send Quotes Or Proposals Via Email?

Normally field salespeople send quotes or proposals by email for a few reasons. The first reason is fear of rejection. It hurts less to send it by email as at worst, they just send an email back saying ‘no thanks’ – much easier to deal with than them saying it to your face, isn’t it?

Or if they don’t reply to you or send an email back saying they’re thinking about it they haven’t really rejected you at all, have they? Can you see how that kind of thinking is holding you back from making more sales?

The second reason is laziness. You probably would say it’s because you’re busy, but it’s laziness. This is one of the most important parts of the sales process, and you’ve decided to email it because it’s easier.

The third reason is because is normally do it that way. Does that mean it’s the best way? Let’s think about this – it could be the most important part of the sales process, and you’re just sending it off into the ether and hoping they’ll give you a positive response. Again – the more competitive the marketplace, the higher the price of your product/service and the longer the time elapsed from your initial conversation/meeting the less likely you are to get the business.

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on!


Andy Preston

Andy Preston is the UK’s leading authority in sales training and business sales techniques. Not only has Andy worked with some top brands in the UK helping them to negotiate better deals and even close on a higher price, his impressive client portfolio encompasses brands such as HSBC, Nissan, Siemens, McAfee and FedEx – to name just a few!

Andy Preston is the UK’s leading authority in sales training and business sales techniques. Not only has Andy worked with some top brands in the UK helping them to negotiate better deals and even close on a higher price, his impressive client portfolio encompasses brands such as HSBC, Nissan, Siemens, McAfee and FedEx – to name just a few!