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Top 5 Email Prospecting No-Nos


Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a guest post from Chris Snell, Inside Sales Manager at

Can I let you in on a little dark secret of mine?

Promise not to tell anyone?

Here it is:  I’m not that great at getting responses to my prospecting emails.  SCANDALOUS, I know!  How did I even get a job managing an inside sales team without being a Hemingway when it comes to email writing?!  Crazy, I concede, but somehow I get by.  I’ve picked up some pointers here and there from folks, so I’m on my way to improving my response rates, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be.  What I have learned, though, is what doesn’t work, so without further ado, here’s my list of Top 5 Prospecting Email No-No’s:

  1. Skipping Your Research – I can’t tell you how many emails I get on a weekly basis of people looking to sell me stuff.  Totally fine, except they’re trying to sell me stuff I’m not even remotely interested in or from an industry I’m not even related to.  Case in point: Weekly, I get an email from someone trying to tell me that our website has poor SEO rankings on Google, and could we talk about what his company can do for us.  All it takes is a quick search for Chris Snell on LinkedIn, and you can tell that I have absolutely nothing to do with my company’s SEO initiatives.  Run a search in your favorite search engine and tell me what comes up when you search “local babysitters.”  I’m pretty sure my company’s ranking high, but what do I know – I’m just an inside sales manager.  The point is, don’t skip your research, otherwise you end up looking like a fool.

  2. Faking a Referral – Want to really tick someone off?  Lie to them about being referred to them by one of their colleagues.  I got an email once saying that someone had once spoken with my SVP about a product that could make my inside sales team more effective.  You know what the first thing I did was, right?  I went to my SVP (hey Scott!) and asked if he had any idea what the guy was talking about.  Turns out he did, but the point is that if you’re going to say that someone referred you, you’d better be telling the truth because it will come out.  Additionally, you may not know who that person is connected to in your industry.  If word gets around that you’re employing this tactic, your credibility as an inside sales rep will sink faster than you can plug the hole.

  3. Writing a Thesis – If your email can’t be fully read on an iPhone, it’s not going to be read at all.  You may say, “But Snell, have you seen the size of some of the phablets out there?!”  I have, but that’s not an excuse to write a book, Shakespeare.  iPhones have smaller screens than most of their Android brethren.  It’s a fact.  Your email needs to be complete on the smallest of screens, since in this interconnected-can’t-be-without-my-phone age, that’s likely the place that your prospect will read it.  And truthfully?  No one has time to read all of it unless they’ve opted in to an email newsletter.  Since that’s not what we’re talking about, keep it short.

  4. Feature Dumping in Any Paragraph – Good grief!  Your prospect doesn’t care!  The same rules of the phone apply to email here.  When you get a prospect to pick up your call, the last thing you do is unload verbal diarrhea on them about all of the miraculous things your product can do for them.  Don’t do that here, either!  There isn’t a prospect around who doesn’t roll their eyes as soon as you launch into a litany of wonderful things your services can do, and that’s if they’re polite enough to let you ramble.  On an email?  Delete is a quick keystroke away my friends!   If number three from above holds true, then you don’t want to waste any precious screen time on feature dumping.  Here’s an idea: save the feature dumping for family or high school reunions, when you want to get out of talking to Uncle Dinkins or “Booger” Jones, your 9th grade locker-mate.

  5. Not Ending Your Email with a Proposed Time to Talk – This is emailing 101, right?  It’s on here to emphasize its importance.  I’ve seen a lot of inside sales reps end their prospecting emails with something like this, “Are you interested in exceeding projected revenues in ________?”  Expect a one word answer (likely “no”). Every. Single. Time.  The point of emailing the prospect is to transition the discussion from digital to phone.  Make sure that in all of your initial emails to prospects you're proposing times for them to pick.  “Monday at 3:00pm or Tuesday at 10:30am?  Which one works best for you?”  The only call-to-action in your email should be responding with a time to talk.

    There’s a lot I still have to learn when it comes to emailing, but I’ve got a good sense of what not to do.  Remember what I said though – keep your lips sealed on this secret of mine!  You promised!

    Now it’s your turn!  What other email no-no’s can you think of?


    Chris Snell has been building inside sales teams since 2002.  Chris is currently the Inside Sales Manager for, helping businesses connect with families and hire new employees through marketing and recruiting services.  Chris lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with his wife and son.  You can connect with Chris on Twitter here, or here on LinkedIn.


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