It’s that time of year: the fourth quarter. For many of us, this is when budgets get set, deals get drafted, and your commission gets solidified.
And for many salespeople desperate to fill a pipeline in the fading months of the year, that means turning to email.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of downsides that come with the convenience of email. You don’t get the benefit of reading body language, and you miss out on the responsiveness of other mediums, like a phone call.
You’re flying blind.
And that can lead to many salespeople making even bigger mistakes.
Don’t let the desperation of Q4 get to you. Here are some sales email tips for Q4 and beyond to help you close out your year strong.
We’ve all heard the Q4 war stories.
“They picked up the phone and told me they had ‘this much’ to spend — we got the deal signed that day.”
These stories rarely happen in real life.
They’re glorified to help sales reps make excuses for not having pipeline ready. Here’s the thing, though, even if the pipeline isn’t there…
Q4 brings a lot of emotions, and the worst of them all is desperation. Your prospects can smell its stench from a mile away. And If you show the prospect that you want the deal more than they do, the balance of power shifts.
When that happens, the first thing to move is price (AKA, your commission).
Desperation shows in how quickly you want to move the deal along, how flexible you are on the price, and, most of all, it shows in your tone.
Your prospect can sniff out your tone in all the obvious places — phone calls, presentations, or that awkward pause at the end of the call. What you may not know is how intensely it shows somewhere else — your emails.
Desperation isn’t the only tone that can show up in your email and ruin your deal, though. Looking at our own data at Lavender, we see that ~70% of the emails put into our system feature an uncertain tone.
Do you think your buyer is looking for someone who isn’t sure?
When they see you’re standing on shaky footing, and they really need your product or service, you’ll be a prime target for negotiations.
If they don’t feel they need your goods, you’re in even worse shape. You’ll lose them altogether.
Be confident in your product, and be confident in the deal you’re offering.
Deals Don’t Close in the Inbox
Deals don’t close in the inbox. The inbox is just a tool to get to a conversation where you can close.
So, don’t try to do too much too fast.
Going into your email with a closing mentality often leads to three critical mistakes.
- Giving away too much information
- Mismatched communication style
- Making assumptions
Too much info
Many salespeople tend to give the individual on the other end too much information. We want them to make an informed decision, so we launch into telling them all about us.
They don’t reply because you’ve sent them too much information. They glance at it on their phone. They even tell themselves they’ll get to it, but then the next thing comes up.
Sales is about uncovering the needs and motivations of the prospective buyer. And you don’t uncover anything by showing up and throwing up everything you know about your product.
Instead, focus on asking good questions.
Show them that you’ve done your research and ask a thoughtful question based on your research and prior experience.
This changes the tone of the conversation from a sales pitch to a dialogue where you can build a relationship. It might feel like you’re slowing down the process, but you’re building trust.
Mismatched communication style
This mistake often happens later in the deal cycle. We get sloppy with our emails. We get too comfortable. And it can make your deal much more difficult than it needs to be.
Once there’s a dialogue, you want to try to match their communication style. Don’t pitch a startup about how you helped a bank.
If they’re formal, meet them where they are. Don’t try to make it chummy if that’s not who they are or how they do business.
In sales, it’s easy to start making assumptions when there’s no information. And over email, there is often a lack of information. As we mentioned above, you can’t read body language, judge responsiveness, or pick up on any other context clues.
We often start to place feedback from others into an entirely different conversation to fill that information void.
Did they mention price? No? Then why are you following up about cutting the price.
Instead of trying to guess what’s on their mind, ask them.
If you need more information or want to share something you think will push them over the edge, set up another call. Email isn’t the place to close.
Simplicity Is King
People hate complexity. It means they have to spend more mental calories trying to get through your task. The deal turns into a chore for them.
And in the inbox, tolerance for complexity is basically nonexistent.
At Lavender, we’ve found the best emails are written at a 5th-grade reading level. Unfortunately, most emails we see are written beyond a 9th-grade reading level.
This means a majority of emails feature difficult words, but even more feature extremely lengthy, complex sentences.
Write like you’re explaining something to a 5th grader. That means, speak in the simplest terms possible. Use simple sentence structures. And break up your paragraphs.
Explain one idea per sentence and one idea per paragraph.
Breaking up your paragraphs is especially critical for mobile optimization. A long paragraph can look like a wall of text on someone’s phone.
Your prospects will appreciate how quick and easy it is to scan and understand your messages.
Q4 is stressful and busy for everyone, and buying your product likely isn’t the top priority of your prospect. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and be considerate of their needs and their position.
By using the writing practices I mentioned above, you’re already beginning to be considerate of your prospect’s time and mental energy. That said, there’s more to it than asking questions, matching their tone, and writing simply.
Remember, your prospect’s timeline isn’t the same as your timeline. So, while you’re measured on your performance in Q4, understand that your prospect isn’t measured by the tools they buy this month.
You need to find the balance between pushing the deal forward and no being too pushy.
Your prospect may not be moving as fast as you’d like, but they likely have their own Q4 numbers they’re trying to hit. If you’re patient, checking in only to stay top-of-mind and make sure they have what they need to make their decision, you’re far more likely to close the deal.
The other thing to be considerate about is your tone. One misinterpreted line (or correctly interpreted line that you didn’t take the time to reflect on) can set a deal and relationship back (or even destroy it altogether).
It takes a lot of work to build trust, but it’s really easy to ruin it.
As you write emails this quarter, mind your tone. Don’t be overly aggressive.
There’s a fine line between confident swagger and being a jerk.
The key here is to start from a place of seeking understanding.
Asking more questions and making fewer assumptions will take your email EQ (Emotional Intelligence) to the next level.
Find the Balance
Treat email for what it is. Email isn’t where you’ll close the deal. It’s where the deal progresses between meetings to get it closed.
Don’t try to do too much too fast.
It’s a difficult balance. We have to be empathetic yet confident. We have to know our stuff and still actively listen when you hear something for the 1200th time.
Hold your own. Know your worth. Focus on your immediate goal — getting that next meeting. And if you truly believe in the value of what you sell, these psychological principles will emanate through your writing and propel you to a deal.