What is an e-mail sequence and should I be using one as a recruiter/salesperson?

Being in a sales job right now isn’t easy. Going out to meet clients is completely off the table, and right now I’d argue and say that the cold call is going to be “dead” until lockdown is lifted.

Trying to generate business during a global pandemic was never going to be a walk in the park, and with the majority of my clients sitting in the recruitment/sales category, I wanted to share a few things that have been working when it comes to e-mail sequences and the language you use in them.

For those that are unfamiliar with e-mail sequences, they are in summary a set of e-mails that can be automatically or manually sent to a set group of people. It can be trigger based (like Covid-19) or time based (catch ups and keeping relationships warm). They can be three or four e-mails long, depending on whether you have enough relevant content.

A lot of salespeople get e-mailing wrong, mostly because the majority of business is done over the phone or in person, meaning that you can rely on “the gift of the gab” and personality to build relationships.

Also, recruitment and sales companies often put heavy emphasis on cold calling, which although is incredibly effective, I’ve had a lot of feedback that people are less receptive to a cold call during this time.

I don’t blame them. We are all trying to keep our shit together and a call out of the blue when you’re at home, on your own, with no office vibe can actually feel quite invasive.

Also, you run the risk of coming off as insensitive and rude if you don’t approach things with caution, and how you position yourself during Covid-19 can impact how you will be perceived in the future.

You don’t want to be the person that pissed off clients, candidates or prospects in your industry, you want to be the person that was empathetic, added value and still did deals.

So, before we get in to it, let’s talk about what I would define as a ‘cold call’ so you can see how an e-mail sequence can support you in your sales strategy.

I would define a cold call as contacting someone via phone who you have never spoken to before, including e-mail and LinkedIn messages.

Let’s put yourself in the prospect/clients shoes, so the person who you are asking business from. What would you prefer right now?

Option A: Someone has obtained your mobile number, called you without any prior warning, and immediately started pitching their services to you.

Option B: Someone has obtained your mobile number, connected with you on LinkedIn first, e-mailed you letting you know that they can support your business during a pandemic, and then called you to follow up and introduce themselves properly.

I know Option B is already working better than Option A.

Now, the above example isn’t an e-mail sequence, but more a way for you to soften the blow when it comes to cold calling.

Let’s talk about the basic structure of an e-mail sequence and who it can be effective for. I’m going to go with a three step sequence so it isn’t an overkill. the “recruitment only” section should really only be used by recruiters as it has no relevance to other sales roles.

E-mail 1: The introduction

  • How are they? Send them well wishes. It goes a long way.
  • Who are you and your company. Less than a sentence long.
  • How could you support this prospect. Highlight a pain point of theirs, showing your knowledge.
  • Mention two companies (ideally similar to theirs) that you have supported. Keep it brief.
  • (RECRUITMENT ONLY) Include a candidate that you have that is a fit for their business.
  • End the e-mail asking their availability for a call.

E-mail 2: The follow up (if they have not responded to your e-mail or call)

  • Let them know that you called (if you have). You’d be surprised how many people forget to call back. If not, say you are following up and reply to your previous message so they see the thread.
  • Direct them to the company website, ideally a client or testimonial page and remind them of the support you are offering. Advise that if now isn’t the right time – that’s OK too. Don’t be pushy.
  • (RECRUITMENT ONLY) Explain the candidates availability and if they are interested, to let you know when they can discuss the profile.
  • Close off the e-mail letting them know you will check in with them in a couple of weeks time.

E-mail 3: The last hook

  • Re-introduce yourself and pick out something you have seen either on their profile, or company page that has interested you.
  • Send over a blog or relevant piece of content that has been produced by your business, that would add value to them.
  • (RECRUITMENT ONLY) by this point, trying to sell the same candidate you had two weeks ago probably isn’t best. Ask them how their recruitment strategy is looking now, and how they are pipelining for the future.
  • Close off the e-mail and put a note in your diary to check in with them in a month.

So, how is this effective?

A lot of you may have read the above and thought “jesus, that’s time consuming” and a part of it is. But, building relationships and showing an interest in them and their company is a tried and tested way that salespeople and recruiters can benefit.

  • You have not bombarded them with long, pointless e-mails that will annoy them
  • You’ve demonstrated that they aren’t ‘just another client’ by doing further research and sending them relevant content
  • By the third e-mail they will have a better idea of you, and the company you represent even if they don’t reply.
  • You have now built the foundations of a potential longer-term relationship, and it gives you more to talk about when you do eventually get them on the phone, for example:

“What were your thoughts on the candidate profile I sent over”

“What did you think about the blog/content that I shared with you, was it useful?” (and if it didn’t hit the markers) “What kind of content would you find beneficial in the future”

“What would your thoughts be on meeting in person when Covid-19 is over and when you’re in a position to use our services?”

So, to answer the title of this blog, yes, you should be using e-mail sequences.

This blog is a very watered down version of what you could do if you wanted to get really specific with it, and sometimes sequences don’t work for everybody if you aren’t confident in writing that kind of content. But, if you are, and you want to switch up your sales approach – then definitely give this a try!

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