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May 27th, 2016

Email: Five seconds to trash or continued interest

When you send an email to someone for the first time, especially in a business setting, the first thing you need to do is establish trust. We're not talking about "trust you with my first born child", but more simply the trust required for the reader to spend time reading your missive and, even more importantly, to take the action you are asking.

Today, I received the following email:

From: xxx xxx (
Subject: Hello

MARC my name is xxx xxx.I would be interested to know is you had some time to share with over the phone yyy-yyy-yyyy

Generalities, vagueries and bad spelling are the path to the trash bin

The problems with this are multiple:

  • Bad email practices send emails to the trashFirst and foremost is the yahoo address: It is a free account, and the domain has no connection to the sender, other than what it does to millions of others: It is a free, throwaway account.
  • The second is the subject line of "Hello" - Firstly, it is used billions of times by spammers (to this day, it boggles the mind of the laziness of bulk mailers). Secondly, it is not descriptive at all - It does not give a reason to open the email by not describing the contents or purpose of the contents.
  • Next is my name - Though spelled correctly, it is in all-caps, highly suggestive of a mail-merge field, which then suggests that this is a bulk mail campaign.
  • Next to last is the poor grammar: " know is you had time..." - Whether or not English is your first, second or third language, poor spelling and grammar in an introductory email is a sure fire way to lose interest from the reader.
  • Finally, there is the call to action: A request for a voice call, for no other reason than "to share some time" - There is no reason other than "if you are either incredibly bored, terribly curious or malfeasantly naive, call this number"

How would this email be better written ?

From: xxx xxx (
Subject: Would like to sell (My Company)'s customers

Hello, Marc;

My name is xxx xxx, senior sales representative with Company Name; We sell {products} which are not only complimentary to your customer base, but increase their profitability by increasing efficiency, reducing person-hour work each day and offers several resale-able services.

I would really like to speak with you over the phone about how this would benefit both your customers, as well as your company.

I can be reached at yyy-yyy-yyyy or I would be more than happy to call you at a time of your convenience.


xxx xxx

Five seconds to success or obscurity

We all know the "30 second" rule when it comes to websites: You have 30 seconds to impress the viewer enough to make them decide to keep reading or click their back button" - That critical time is even less for unsolicited email. FAR less. It can take less than 5 seconds for a person do decide to trash your email - less than one, if the subject line is, essentially, garbage or looks like spam.

Far too many people justify their inept commercial mail with the thought of "I have to send so many of these out, I do not have time to customize for each recipient" - The fatal flaw in that line of thought is that for every ten commercial emails you are sending, your recipient has received fifty. If yours looks and reads like the other forty nine - it ends up in exactly the same place: The trash folder.

If you don't have the skill - Pay someone who does

In summation: Selling - especially cold-calling, cold-emailing - takes skill, time and effort. There is no shortcut. (For those that think bulk, unsolicited email is a "shortcut" where they'll win from the numbers game, that is a short, short path to being blocklisted from every Internet recipient on the planet)

If you do not have what it takes for successful email contact - and most people do not - pay someone who does: It literally pays for itself in terms of new business, longer relationships and a much, much better reputation within the business community.

-Marc Bissonnette

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