Transform Your Emails: Unpacking and Improving a Poorly Constructed Email

by | 6 Nov 23

The advice I’m about to share isn’t just for one type of business. Nope, it’s something anyone in the B2B world can use. So why am I zooming in on Education? Well I was chatting with a headteacher not too long ago, and our conversation got me thinking. It sparked an idea, and voila! This blog was born. So whatever you’re selling, stick around – these tips apply to you.

I recently stumbled on this fascinating article by TeacherTapp. And when I was chatting with a headteacher friend of mine, we spoke about the amount of emails she gets from Education Technology and Education Services businesses. And let me tell you something – it was staggering!

Here I was, thinking that my inbox as a business owner was overflowing with sales pitches. But when she showed me her inbox – oh boy! It was like standing at the base of Mount Everest and looking up. It was an avalanche of emails. I mean, I knew headteachers were popular, but this? This was just mind-blowing!

I asked, “Do any of them get your attention?”.

She replied “No, not really. But I do read the first few lines just to check.”

That led us to talk about the kind of emails she gets. Picture this – a sea of flashy, HTML-designed marketing emails just pouring in. And you know what she does with most of them? Straight into the bin!

She hardly even gives them a second glance, let alone read the text.

But every now and then, there’s a glimmer of hope. An email that seems more personal, more human. It’s a simple plain text email, addressing her by name. A decent start, right? But! Even these don’t manage to hold her interest. She scans the first few lines, and if it doesn’t hook her in, guess where it ends up? Yep, you got it – the bin!

So, what’s going wrong here? Why aren’t these emails hitting the mark? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to dive deep. In this blog, I’m going to dissect one of those emails and show you why headteachers like her are giving them the cold shoulder. Spoiler alert: they’re built all wrong. But don’t worry, I’m also going to show you how we can fix that.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Table of Contents

Use these links to jump straight to the part of the article that interests you most.

> The Original Email
> What Went Wrong?
> The Improved Email
> What’s Improved?
> Wait, Emails? I Thought You Were Dead Against Them

The Original Email

Subject: HR In Your School

Hi [Name],

I hope this message finds you well.

I’m reaching out from [company name]. I’d love to arrange a quick chat so I can show you how our software will streamline HR and save you loads of time.

It supports everybody in school, helps maximise performance and helps you make decisions. We integrate with any MIS, and – as I said – it will save you and your teachers loads of time.

Are you ready to save time and simplify your HR?

I’m available on the days and times below. Do you have 15 minutes spare for a quick chat at any of these times?

  • Date and time
  • Date and time
  • Date and time

Let me know which works for you. Or if there’s a better day and time for you, that’s fine, just let me know and I’ll work something out. My calendar books up fast, so let me know asap and I’ll get something booked in.

Thanks,

[Name]

When the Headteacher showed me this, she said, “This one starts off okay, at least they get my name in there. But after that, it just feels like a sales thing to me.” She said that she barely makes it past the third or fourth sentence before she’s had enough

Curious, I asked her why. “Because HR isn’t a problem in our school. I don’t think it needs streamlining.”

Just like that, the email goes from being potentially interesting to absolutely irrelevant. No problem? No sale! As simple as that. It’s a straight ticket to the bin.

What Went Wrong?

So, you’re probably wondering, “What went wrong here?”

First and foremost, let’s be honest – there’s no way that email would pique a prospect’s interest. Why not, you ask? Well, it’s simple really. The sender doesn’t put the school first. Take another look at the email. Who’s it all about? Yep, you guessed it. It’s all about the seller.

And if that wasn’t enough, the email is all about the product, not the problem it solves. Sure, the sender might not know whether the school has the problem their product can solve, but they don’t even take a shot at mentioning common issues.

Now, we all know there’s heaps of data, news, and research out there about HR issues in schools. So why not mention these common issues? Who knows, the school might be grappling with one of them. But no, there’s no attempt to highlight a potential problem or even bring up an issue the school might not have considered.

So, what do we end up with? An email focused on the sender and the product. Ouch! That’s a recipe for disaster. We need to flip this approach on its head. The focus should be on the customer and their problems.

This brings us to the request for 15 minutes of the headteacher’s time. Now think about it – she’s swamped with work. So, spending 15 minutes listening to someone drone on about their business, product, and integration with other systems? Not a chance. It’s a complete waste of her precious time.

So, I’d like you to pause for a moment and take a look at your emails and calling scripts. Do they resemble this? If so, stick around for the next part of this blog. I’ll be reworking this email and explaining why my version is more likely to get a response.

Let’s aim to make that request for 15 minutes of a prospect’s time worthwhile. Let’s make it something they’ll look forward to. Because, at the end of the day, we’re here to make a difference. And that starts with understanding and addressing our prospects’ needs.

The Improved Email

What’s the absolute most important rule of selling? “It’s not about you, it’s about the customer and their problems”.

Without a problem to be solved, there’s no sale to be had. So you have to find the problem well before you even talk about your product.

OK, let’s look at the changes that need to be made in this email.

Subject: 21% of Teachers Phone In Sick. But Why?

Hi [Name],

Are you aware that over the last year the proportion of teachers phoning in sick – with very little notice – has risen from 13% to 21%. And the reported feelings of burnout in teachers have been increasing rapidly since October 2021. And it’s not slowing down.

What’s more, research carried out by York University attributed the negative impact teacher burnout has on the academic achievement of pupils they teach.

If you’re interested, 15 minutes will give us enough time to discuss how these issues affect schools like yours. We could also discuss how your HR systems may be holding you back, ensuring you don’t become part of the statistics mentioned above.

Thanks,

[Name]

What’s Improved?

Alright, let’s talk about what’s improved. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no expert when it comes to HR in schools. My experience in that particular area of the education sector is pretty limited. But guess what? It took me just about 20 minutes to find the figures I used in the subject line and the first paragraph.

A quick search on Google Scholar was all it took for me, a non-expert, to come up with a better email intro than someone who actually works in this sector. So, really, there’s no excuse not to do this.

Let’s kick things off with the subject line. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of “The Challenger Sale,” book, you’ll know that educating your prospects about the problem you can help solve – a problem they might have – gives you the ‘expert’ label. And even better, it elevates you to the status of a ‘teacher.’ So, spicing up your subject line with a fact will significantly increase the chances of your email being opened.

And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love learning something new that relates to them?

Now, take a look at the first and second paragraphs. Notice how I’ve tied the subject line to the beginning of the email? This shows that I understand the potential problem on a deeper level. Here, I’m giving the prospect more insight into a common issue they might be facing.

In the third (and yes, final – because let’s face it, nobody has time for long emails) paragraph, I’ve linked the product to a common problem schools are dealing with. So, my request for just 15 minutes of their time suddenly becomes valuable to them. How so? Because an email structured this way offers value to the buyer. It’s an email that imparts information, rather than just taking up space in their inbox.

The subject line and the body of the email are both intriguing. They challenge the reader, hinting at a gap in their knowledge. That’s bound to make them sit up and take notice, and learn something new. Something deeper about a problem they’re facing – you’re giving them fresh insight into their own issues. Stuff they might not have been aware of.

So, why wouldn’t they want to spend 15 minutes learning more in a meeting with you?

Wait, Emails? I Thought You Were Dead Against Them

If you’ve been following my LinkedIn posts and other blogs, you might have noticed I’m not exactly the biggest fan of email marketing. But, let me set the record straight. It’s cold-email marketing that really grinds my gears. It’s right up there with cold-calling on my list of pet peeves.

Throughout my journey in Sales, Customer Success, and Product Management, I’ve learned that building relationships is key. And to do this, I use a range of methods to contact customers and prospects.

LinkedIn? Absolutely, it’s my go-to for creating, building, and maintaining relationships. But I don’t stop there. I also harness the power of video, social media direct messages, text messages, emails, and even make good old-fashioned phone calls. The catch? I only use these tools with people I’ve already established some sort of ‘warm’ relationship with.

So, that email example I wrote in this blog? If I was in that industry, that would only come into play after I’ve connected with a prospect on LinkedIn and we’ve had a bit of back-and-forth through direct messages. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about making a genuine connection.

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