Awful Outbound Emails – ‘An Industry Plague’

“An industry plague”. Those were the words used by someone I spoke to yesterday who is a fairly senior figure in the sales enablement research arena. They were talking about the backwards approach to sales coaching, and specifically around a topic I had personally been exposed to quite substantially the week before. When I say ‘exposed’, what I really mean is angered and frustrated by! The topic in question was in relation to email outreach – and how different companies are measuring the quality of outbound emails their reps are sending.


One example of a conversation I had regarding this was with a Sales VP in an Enterprise SaaS company. When I asked them how they measured the success and quality of outbound emails their sales reps sent out to prospects, the response I received was the same as 95% of the other times I ask this question.


“We track and measure how many emails they each send out per day/week. Our highest performers are generally the ones who send out the most”.


This answer had in no way really answered my question.The VP’s response to measuring ‘success’ and ‘quality’ was purely around quantity. That’s it. That the most successful reps are generally the ones who send out the most may well be true. But the old adage of ‘throw enough mud at the wall and eventually it will stick’ could well be in play in this regard. This conversation was replicated many times over at a SaaS conference I attended in Dublin last week. I had plentiful discussions with CEO’s and Sales VPs – all of which gave very similar answers to my question about measuring ‘success and quality’.


And this is one of the fundamental reasons why sales coaching is so broken today. As managers – we have been sucked into a culture of living via KPI’s, and dashboards of quantity metrics, that we limit the time we have to invest in coaching skills.


To help bring this issue to life even more, I have copied below a cold outreach email I received recently. This example is one of HUNDREDS I could have used, further highlighting the widespread plague I relate to in this article. Its worth me noting here that I hadn’t actually opened this email until I decided to write this blog post – I just dug it out from my Trash folder which is where I sent it without even opening it given the subject line.


Subject Line : Meeting Request



Where do I even start with this absolutely dreadful excuse of an outbound email?


Subject Line

Before even providing me with any sort of value or reason for contacting me, I’m being told that the purpose of this email is to get a meeting. Not only is this massively assumptive, but also completely devalues the email before I’ve even started reading it. The only people I want to receive emails from with the subject line ‘meeting request’ are from my own prospects!

‘Dear (blank)’

Need I say anything here? Quite clearly this is a mail merge gone wrong, but I do wonder how many leads this sender has burned due to this monumental error.


Opening Gambit


So this person wants to ‘partner’ (i.e. SELL TO ME) elearning/mobile learning development services. WHY?! Why as a Head of Sales of a sales coaching platform would I be interested in that? Instantly this sender has demonstrated they have done absolutely zero research on either myself or my company. Even if this was relevant to my company – surely this would be better off going to my CTO?


Value Proposition


This sender’s value proposition is nigh on non-existent. Why? Simply because they haven’t told me anything about how they can help ME specifically. All they have done is talk about themselves for the best part of 8 lines. Completely non-personalized, self-centred rubbish. The fact they think I want to spend further time linking out to see all of their beautiful work in a portfolio just angers me even more. They have offered absolutely nothing of relevance or value to me. How much effort would it have taken for this rep to bring even a SMALL amount of personalization to their outreach to me? Theres ample content available online to give ideas on how to do this in some intelligent ways.


Sign Off


They ask me if I have a free slot available to talk. Whilst its clear by this point I would never offer up a free slot for what would be a pointless call, perhaps they could have suggested a specific time or even specified the length of time I would be giving up?


I do wonder how many blanket emails this sender actually sent out that day. 50?100?1000? Whatever the number – I wonder if when their sales manager looks at that all impressive figure, that they get a big pat on the back for having such high activity levels? Does the manager start to wonder after a period of time WHY this rep gets so few responses (if any) to the hundreds of outreach emails they send? Do they start to get concerned at the amount of time the rep wastes putting together and sending emails which return such limited results? Do the senior executives get anxious that their company’s reputation is being damaged by their sales team sending such unsolicited and spam-ful outreach?

The above example is one of the more extreme examples of bad emails I receive admittedly, but hopefully you get the point. Those reading this blog may start to ask yourselves how often you look beyond the ‘send statistics’ and ‘open rates’ and actually spend time reviewing the content of your rep’s emails? Are you confident that every email your rep’s are sending is on message, giving value to the prospect, and justifying the time spent by the rep crafting it in the first place? What ACTUAL return in positive responses would you get by investing regular time reviewing, coaching, and providing feedback to your reps on their email outreach? How can you start curing the sales coaching plague?


Refract helps sales managers identify common mistakes being made in rep interactions with prospects including emails, and drive outbound excellence through focused coaching and feedback. Contact us for a demo.

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