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If you’re in the fortunate position of having customers come directly to you for your products or services, your conversion rate and bottom line can benefit from getting your responses right.

Here are six simple things to keep in mind when making sales over email:

#1 Answer the question

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised at how many organizations optimise for response rates over relevance when responding to existing and potential customers. Templates can be useful to ensure a fast response and cover the key points of an enquiry of that type, but don’t rely on templates to such an extent that you fail to answer the real question.

#2 Don’t bury the answer

Even if your template or response structure does answer all of the questions asked, is it answering them quickly enough? Some sales organizations make the mistake of promoting less relevant content above the subject of the customer’s focus.

Using headings to lay out the information structure of your response can be a great way to highlight the location of what the potential client is looking for.

#3 Address the potential customer’s express needs

Questions aren’t the only important parts of a sales inquiry. Oftentimes, what a potential customer tells you about their situation and what they are looking for can be just as key to making a good pitch and closing the sale. If the needs are stated explicitly, demonstrate value by showcasing how your product or service can meet that need (preferably, better or less expensively than competitors).

#4 Respond to implied needs, too

Since you’re experienced in what you’re selling, you may also be able to spot needs implied in what customers tell you about themselves. For example, a potential client might tell you that they want to achieve something in one manner, but you happen to know that there’s a better way to achieve their aims. In these cases, share your knowledge and suggest the alternative, as this can be a great way to demonstrate value and build trust on the way to closing the sale.

Beware, though: don’t use this as an excuse to get overzealous with cross-selling. Offer answers to visible windows of opportunity, but avoid pushing products and services with only a tenuous relationship to the subject of the email. Save cross-selling for when you have a more developed relationship with, and understanding of, the client.

#5 Templates can be useful

I know I pointed out some pitfalls of using templates in earlier points, but they remain effective when used correctly. Templates are especially useful when there are consistent themes in what people ask, in which case you can use these tools to provide valuable information to potential clients while reducing the burden on your sales team associated with routine questions.

Another advantage of using templates is that it keeps a consistent tone – if the inquiry is very terse or brief, you won’t win many fans by mirroring that style. Instead, having an established format helps you to flesh out the information, throw in some extra selling points and open a conversation about the value that you offer.

#6 Think about what’s next

A single exchange of emails seldom concludes a sale, so think about how your sales funnel operates. What more do you need to know about the client before you can make the sale? Asking the customer these questions gives them something clear to respond to, opening up further opportunities. People like structure too, so provide a quick run-down of the next steps and how the process works – what will it take for them to get the solution they need? This is a great way to keep the potential client’s focus on the goal, as it shows them how to unlock the value they seek.

How do you handle inquiries from potential clients? What do you think are the key aspects of your communication style that help to drive sales for your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and let us know if any of these tips above have helped you!