By Lucy Literado

Do you enjoy approaching complete strangers? As a bit of an introvert, the idea of walking up to someone I’ve never met and starting a conversation is enough to send my heart rate through the skylight. Yet, if you’re looking to build a successful business, you’re going to have to talk to a lot of people.

Sending emails may seem easier, but it also comes with its own unique challenges. Although you may be glad your prospective clients can’t see you, you also can’t see them to gauge their reaction. You can’t tell when your pitch is falling flat or when it’s succeeding, when to change tact or double down.

In this post, I’ll share how to approach potential clients and get the results you want.

Start with a High-Quality List

The first step to successful email prospecting is having a high-quality list of leads. You may very well be reaching out to complete strangers, but they should never be random strangers. It’s possible to buy a high-quality list, but you have to be careful; there are plenty of sites who’ll happily sell you a list of outdated and incorrect contacts. These can wreck your results and likely damage your sender domain, making future campaigns much harder.

Look for reputable, well-established sites. Check how often they verify their database, and whether they guarantee a certain delivery rate. Then, look for a targeted list of people who match your ideal customer profile. Any decent company will offer you lists that only match your specified criteria, such as industry, job title, location, company revenue and more. Alternatively, you can build your own list from scratch.

Personalize and Segment

Many approach email prospecting as purely a numbers game. Low reply rates don’t matter, just send out more and more emails until you get the numbers you’re looking for. It’s a ‘spray-and-pray’ methodology, and to a degree it works, thanks to the cheap costs of sending emails and the ease of automated prospecting.

However, you can get much better results, attract higher quality leads, and avoid being flagged as spam, all by sending personalized emails. This means more than dropping a {First.Name} merge tag in your email though. It requires knowing your prospects better than they know themselves and sending an email that speaks directly to them.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to write each email from scratch. However, to your recipient, they should feel like the email was written purely for them. A great way to do this is segmenting your audience, breaking them down into groups based on such things as their industry, their location, and their behavior (e.g. reply rate, previous interactions, etc.). You can then send different emails to each segment that are tailored to their specific traits and requirements, and most importantly, provide value.

Provide Value

Offering value starts with having a high-quality list and segmenting your audience. However, it’s vital to carry this over into your actual messaging. Forget going on about how your company was established in 1066 and how you make a million dollars a minute; your email should be all about them, about how you can help them solve their problems.

How do you know if you’re providing sufficient value or not? Check your responses. If you’ve done this correctly, people will be sending you positive replies, eager to learn more. If not, you’ll have low reply rates, and any replies you do receive will be negative.

If you are getting poor results, check that your the value you offer is clear and matches the needs of your prospects.

Follow Up

One of the drawbacks of emails is how they can be easily ignored or forgotten, languishing in your prospect’s inbox until they’re eventually deleted. To avoid your emails meeting this fate, it’s essential you follow up on your initial email.

Some may shy away from following up, worried about appearing needy or annoying the prospect. The truth is, with all the emails your prospect is undoubtedly receiving, following up is the best way of standing out. If you are truly providing clear value to your prospect, you’re doing them a favor by following up and they’ll appreciate it.

Don’t leave it to memory either; set up a system to make sure it’s done. At the very least set up a calendar reminder to follow up. Ideally, have a complete sequence written up ahead of time. Any decent automated prospecting system will allow you to create a sequence of emails, complete with follow-ups in the event the prospect hasn’t replied in a specified amount of time.

Contacting complete strangers can be daunting, even when it’s over email. However, if you start with a high-quality list, personalize and segment your messaging, provide clear value, and follow up, you’ll be able to effectively approach your potential clients with confidence.