I don’t mean one of those emails. And, yes, as a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t send those to customers either.
A naked email is an email without a value-added element to it. It is an email that provides no information to your customer that helps them move at least one step closer to making a decision. It contains neither valuable content, an answer to one of their pressing questions nor does it provide a unique business insight that can provide a meaningful context for the decision the customer has to make.
A naked email is the digital equivalent of the dreaded “check-in” call that salespeople have been inflicting on their customers since Alexander Graham Bell first invented the telephone. Compare the two:
Check-in Call: “Hi, Mr. Prospect? Yes, this is Dave Smith from SLO Inc.…Yes, Dave…from SLO Inc. Well, it’s been a couple weeks since we last talked and I just wanted to, sort of, you know, check-in and see how things were going.”
Naked email: “Hi, Mr. Prospect, How are things going? It’s been a couple of weeks since we last talked and I want to check-in and see how things are going on your end. Do you have time to talk this week? Regards, Dave”
A primary goal of selling should be to train your customers that you are a source of value for them.
This extends from your in-person interactions, to phone calls and emails. The customer should know from experience that when you engage with them, via whatever medium, that they will receive something of value from that communication.
This means that you have to eliminate the trivial sales interactions, like check-in emails, that consume time that your customer can’t afford to waste. And you can ill-afford to waste your limited selling time preparing and sending emails that deliver no value relative to moving your customer ahead in their buying process.
Instead of sending naked emails to customers, which in their own way are really NSFW, you need to create and send what I call “value-mails.” A value-mail usually contains third-party information or business insights that are beyond the scope of the in-house content produced by your marketing department.
Why third party information?
Because the customer has already poured through your website and vacuumed up all the information it contained about your company, your technology and your product and services. As a good salesperson should, you have also bombarded them with the super-special content that is held in reserve and not posted on your website and that is only given to qualified prospects, such as case studies and so on. But at some point the customer will have exhausted that information and still require something more to help them make that decision.
Now what? Well, you’ve heard of that thing called the Internet, right? It’s a treasure chest full of relevant and important information that can assist your customers in their decision-making. Most importantly the information is incredibly easy to find. In fact, it will find you.
Here’s a simple step everyone can take to create value-mails.
When you get a newly qualified prospect, set up a series of Google Alerts about them. It takes just a minute to create an alert. At a minimum create separate alerts that will be sent to you daily for a) the customer’s company; b) their industry; c) their competitors; and, d) the combination of their industry and your product or service.
As you create the alert Google provides some real-time search returns on the keyword. It’s a good way to fine-tune the keywords to optimize the value of the alert.
Once your alerts are set up you will receive emails from Google, full of content that you can use in value-mails to your customers. Perhaps they will contain links to relevant news articles or links to market research, white papers or other industry content that the customer will find to be valuable. You have the opportunity to provide the customer some insights that they didn’t have the time to search out on their own. This delivers value to the customer. It also builds trust and starts to elevate you from being just a salesperson to being an advisor.
Imagine that instead of a naked email you can send a value-mail:
Value-mail: “Hi, Mr. Prospect, I was thinking of you this morning as I was reading a great article about how companies in your field increasingly are using technology such as we have proposed to you, to speed product development and shorten time-to-market. Here is a link to the article. It does an excellent job of addressing the concerns you raised during our last call. Would you be available on Tuesday at 9am for a call to review this?”
To avoid sending naked emails, you have to do some planning. You have to be certain you can answer the following questions about every email you plan to send to the customer who is evaluating your product or service.
- What is the sales purpose of this email?
- What is the value of the linked or attached content to the customer?
- Why should the customer invest their time to open this email and read it?