8 Phrases That Immediately Kill Your Outreach Emails

Outreach is one of the most difficult things salespeople have to do. The sheer volume of contacts one must make in order to find an interested prospect is daunting, and one of the reasons why so many salespeople end up getting burned out. If you ask a handful of salespeople which part of their job is the most challenging, eight out of ten are likely to say outreach.

But despite the difficulty of the task, there are ways to make it a bit easier. The most impactful way is to send more effective outreach messages. The more effective the messages, the higher the likelihood of a response, and the more efficient the arduous task becomes.

In order to send more effective outreach messages, it’s important to remove the most detrimental phrases from your pitch. These are the phrases that turn prospects off immediately, shutting them down before you get a chance to go any further.

So, before you send your next outreach message, make sure it doesn’t include any of the following phrases:

1. “How would you like to...”

Usually, this opening is followed by what appears to be an irresistible offer. Unfortunately, by the time the offer comes, the recipient has already tuned out. Going straight into a pitch rarely works, and even if you can deliver on your promises, the spammy cadence will make the reader instantly skeptical. Stay away from this type of outreach.

2. “Did you know that...”

While providing a tidbit of information or some interesting facts might get the prospect’s attention (in theory anyway), it reeks of canned, boilerplate messaging, and is likely to have the opposite effect. Even simply removing “Did you know” from this type of message can have a positive impact, because it sounds less formulaic, and more human.

3. “I hope you’re doing well”

On the surface, this might seem like a polite and friendly greeting, and one that you might use when messaging an old friend. As the recipient, however, your eyes will immediately glaze over and you will recognize this as a trite attempt to build rapport. Instead of wasting time on frivolous niceties, dive right into your message. You are, after all, doing business, right?

4. “Sorry to bother you, but...”

Once again, the sender might think they’re being polite by offering an apology, but this is an awful way to reach out. Not only does it show a complete lack of confidence from the sender, it also implies that there’s something to apologize for. Starting your outreach with an apology indicates that you don’t think you or your time are valuable -- don’t do it.

5. “Not sure if you saw my previous email...”

Sales takes tenacity, and it’s likely you’ll have to reach out multiple times before getting a response. If you’re following up, however, adding this phrase to your messaging will come off as manipulative, because you’re hoping to guilt the prospect into responding. Most people prefer you to be straightforward, so leave the guilt trips out of your messages.

6. “I’ve been following your career for a while”

The biggest problem with this phrase is that in ninety-nine percent of cases, it isn’t true. If it is true, and you actually have been paying attention to the recipient’s career, then you can use this phrase (with some further clarification on what you find compelling enough to follow). But if you haven’t been following the person’s career, then don’t claim otherwise, because there’s nothing worse than starting out a relationship with a blatant (and obvious) lie.

7. “I’ve been thinking, and...”

This sounds like something you would say when initiating a breakup with a long-term partner more than something you should say to a prospect. It’s great that you’ve been thinking, but prospects are less interested in what you’ve been doing and more interested in how you can help them. Try to leave overly personal messages like this one out of your arsenal, because they usually do more harm than good.

8. “Can we schedule fifteen minutes to chat?”

While it’s admirable to go for the direct ask, in many cases, it will backfire because people are so busy that they’re unlikely to make time for you unless they know it’ll be worth their while. An alternative is to ask a simple yes or no question to get the conversation going. Prospects will feel less pressure and will see that you’re not just trying to get them on the phone for the hard sell. Would you take a fifteen minute meeting from a random stranger? If you wouldn’t, then don’t expect anybody else to.


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