The Future of Sales Email Is Conversations

Sales emails today feel a lot like a used car salesman’s pitch from the 90’s: aggressive, impersonal, and in most cases, annoying.

Instead of starting a conversation, emails like these usually open with a dump of product features, and close with a hard ask to chat about how said product is going to change your life.

If you’re in sales like me, you know these emails are often met with one of three reactions: no reply, unsubscribe, or the incredibly frustrated, I already asked you to unsubscribe me!, message. It’s safe to say that prospects almost never respond well to this kind of spray-and-pray email tactic.

And I can’t blame them. Just like a pitch from a used car salesman, sales emails like this feel impersonal and fake. It’s just a bad experience for anyone you’re hoping to convert into a customer.

So why do we keep sending them? Why do we think it’s ok to hit ‘send’ on the kind of outreach that just creates more of a gulf between you and a would-be customer?

At Drift, we struggled with these questions as a sales team, and more broadly, as a company. But with over 260 billion emails sent every day, we knew it was a problem that wasn’t going to go away.

So we decided to fix it.

In January, we released Drift Sequences to finally end the days of spray-and-pray. Now, all of our emails drive towards one thing: conversations. Sure, we show you data about email opens, click-through rates, and more, but with Sequences, the focus is on how many conversations your team is having. And that’s because conversations drive meetings, meetings drive opportunities, and opportunities drive the most important metric of them all: revenue.

That’s awesome. But what makes Sequences really unique? Glad you asked.

Drift Sequences recognizes the different actions that a recipient might have in response to your email. For example, let’s say you send an awesome email, but a prospect doesn’t respond to you right away. Instead, he or she might visit your website looking for more information. When they do, we’ve got your back. Once they land on your website, Drift greets your prospect with a personalized message, and sends you a notification that your prospect is on the site.

If your prospect starts to chat with you while visiting your site, Drift is smart enough to recognize the conversation as engagement, and automatically un-enrolls the prospect from your email sequence. Drift can also do the same if a prospect schedules time to meet with you via the Drift Meeting link in your email signature.

If for some reason one of your emails gets the dreaded “unsubscribe” or “stop emailing me” response, we’ve got you covered there, too: Drift detects their request, and automatically un-enrolls the prospect from the sequence.

Let me repeat: You no longer have to manually un-enroll prospects who opt-out of emails. Instead, Drift recognizes and understands phrases like these, and takes action for you. This frees you from unnecessary manual labor, and liberates prospects from bad experiences with your brand.

Now that we’ve covered Drift Sequences, let’s tackle some tips on improving your email skills.

How to Write Emails That Feel Like Conversations

When you “spray-and-pray” or “batch and blast” sales emails to prospects, it feels efficient. And listing out every single feature of your product isn’t a mistake–you’re just giving your would-be customers the information they need, right?


In reality, all this does is show your prospect that you have no idea who they are, what they do, or what interests them. Reply rates for these tactics hover around about 1%. So the only way to go is up, and it’s not going to be that hard to get there if you keep this advice in mind.

Know your audience.

Have a message that speaks to your prospect’s goals or pain points. This doesn’t mean you need to have completely customized emails for every single prospect–that’s just not scalable or efficient.

But you can have different emails based on target verticals, personas, or profiles. If you’re reaching out to a CFO, talk about how your product delivers positive business ROI, not how much time it saves users everyday. Tailor your message to what your targets care about the most.

Be relevant: Value > Features.

You have features. Your competitors have features. Every product has features.

So why talk about them in an email? Nobody cares.

Instead, talk about what really makes your product different from the competition. In other words, talk about the value features provide.

Case in point: I’m not going to tell a marketer, “Drift lets you run revenue reports.”

Instead, I’m going to lead with the value of a feature like this: “Drift gives marketers the power to connect conversations driven to actual revenue closed.” This makes it real for your reader, and that’s what you want to do.

Ask for permission.

This one was brand new to me when I came to Drift, and it blew my mind. I wrote a Drift email sequence that I was really proud of, and asked Dave Gerhardt, our VP of Marketing, to look it over. The feedback he shared with me changed every email I wrote after that.

I’d written an email showing value, targeting the right person, and ended it with something along the lines of:

“Check out the case study of how we accomplished that here: MongoDB Case Study. Can we connect for 15 minutes to discuss?”

DG came back with one piece of feedback: Ask for permission.

He then changed my closing line to:

“…Do you mind if I show you how we accomplished that?”

This is huge for two reasons: First, it keeps you focused on the customer. Not every prospect is going to want to see how you can increase their lead generation capabilities, so don’t assume they want what you’re offering. And second, it forces you to change the call to action (CTA) in the email. Instead of asking a prospect to commit to speaking with you, the CTA is to engage around the value, which starts a preliminary conversation. With this softer approach, we’ve seen a huge increase in email engagement.

Be aware of where and how people work.

Today, over 65% of emails are read on mobile devices. That stat is insane for a number of reasons, but in this context, it’s a meaningful reminder to understand how someone will physically read your message.

You don’t have much room to capture attention via tiny smartphone screens. You need to be relevant in the first few lines. As soon as they open up the email, without having to scroll down, they have to see why this is relevant to them and what value you’re providing.

Sales Reps Need to Recognize the Power of Conversation

We know sales email is broken. It’s broken for you, and it’s broken for your customers.

If you can be relevant, ask for permission, and be aware of how people work with your email outreach, then you’ll go a long way towards fixing bad sales emails. And, best of all, you’ll be delivering a massively improved experience for your prospects and customers.

Better experience = happier customers, and more conversations = more revenue. Who would say no to that?

Change starts now with Drift Sequences. If you want to write a sales sequence together, let me know. Everyone will be a little bit happier not receiving just another sales email.

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