email mistakes

3 Mistakes Salespeople Make in Writing Customers

In today’s world, we work, live, and die by email. Okay, I exaggerate. But it’s hard to get through a week without weeding your way through an overflowing inbox. How do you make your emails stand out—positively rather than negatively—from competitors?

For starters, correct these problems…


3 Common Email Mistakes


Vague Subject Lines

Subject lines should be a condensed version of your message and the action you want. They should be informative, not mysterious—unless you’re an email marketer. And even then, marketers often find that vague headlines don’t always intrigue buyers.

A quick scan of a week’s inbox reveals subject lines like these:

A Quick Question (About what?)

Following Up (On what?)

Last-Minute Details (Is the reader asking for them or giving them?)


Can you imagine reading newspaper headlines as vague as these: “Stock Market.” “Taxes.” “Blizzard Conditions.” You wouldn’t know where to begin reading. Unless you’re a novelist—a mystery writer at that!—turn your subject lines into informative headlines.

Subject lines should be specific, useful, brief:

How to Register for the Upcoming RW Conference & Expo

New Dates for Denver New Product Orientation: Aug 12-13

Stopping Work on FTD Coding: Glitch in Step 7

Available Friday for Call About Licensing Extension?


Unclear Actions and Timeframes

Don’t hint or imply. State exactly what you want the reader to do and when. You can soften a request by stating the action as a question or by adding a courtesy word. For example: “Would you please send me your feedback on the demo equipment by Friday, May 6.” Such a statement sounds friendly, yet still sets expectations.

Never equate courtesy with vagueness. Phrases such as “at your earliest convenience” or “as soon as possible” simply leave your reader guessing. You can be both pleasant and precise.


Openings That Close Doors

In the classic movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise barges into his home after an argument and long separation from his wife, starts an explanation meant as an apology, and makes a romantic plea: “You complete me…  You…”

She interrupts, “You had me at hello.”

In case you don’t recall the movie plot, let me just say the similarity to email greetings stops there:  Your email readers are not in love with you. (Okay, maybe your family members love you. Possibly a few favorite customers love you.) But even if emailing best friends, chances are they already have an overflowing inbox and may not want another email from you.

So your email greetings should warm clients and prospects up—not put them off.

Another thing about greetings: Stand out by “mixing It up.” My colleague Bill Lampton has mastered this principle well. Every email from him sounds as though he has just walked into my office with a fresh comment of the morning. Here are some recent greetings from his emails:

Dianna, hi—

Very good, Dianna. The next thing….

How about Tuesday, Dianna?

Good morning, Dianna!

For sure, Dianna…  Mid- to late-May fits my schedule…

I totally agree, Dianna, about the need to …

See how these greetings pull you right into the email as if we’re in a relationship and the conversation is just continuing?

That’s exactly the feeling you want your customers to have as they see your email in the preview window—that they’re in an ongoing relationship with you and should respond as if face to face.


So how to break through the email barrier and get quicker responses? Be specific. Say it in the subject line. Make sure your greeting warms buyers up—not puts them off.


Learn more ways to improve your email communication in Faster, Fewer, Better Emails: Manage the Volume, Reduce the Stress, Love the Results. Click here for details.

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