Email Marketing for Sales Teams: It Works!
Email marketing in a printing company is traditionally used for, well, marketing.
It is designed to inform, attract, and convert prospects into customers. It helps keep the company top of mind.
However, one overlooked place where email marketing works really, really well is with the sales team.
HOW IT WORKS
The program goes like this:
- Each salesperson on the team sends out a personal email newsletter to their list of contacts.
- The newsletter goes out through your company email provider, but is handled by the sales department, not the marketing department.
- Newsletters are sent out weekly, monthly or quarterly. Weekly works great. Monthly works fine. Quarterly is not enough, in my opinion. Annual, forget it.
- The sales manager sees the results of the campaign, stats-wise, but real success is measured in the number of replies the salesperson receives.
- Sometimes the sales manager has input on the content, but for the companies I consult with, the salespeople do much better if they can write the content themselves.
My role as outside email campaign manager is to get the program set up, create a mobile template so it can be easily read on a phone or tablet, and keep everyone on schedule. Sales managers don’t need this on their plate, so I manage deadlines and the salespeople. Honestly, the salespeople like having me give them ideas for content and keep their feet to the fire until everything’s done.
Over the years I have supported the newsletters of every type of salesperson, and they each have something interesting to tell their customers with every new edition of their newsletter… so don’t let them tell you otherwise.
Here are a few examples:
- Inside salesperson Dave keeps his weekly newsletter short. He includes photos of his family, their vacations, his garden, and his daughter’s wedding. He keeps it very personal, and he asks his readers to reply with their own family stories. His customers LOVE his emails, and his inbox overflows with photos from customers every week.
- Equipment salesperson Candice writes monthly tech tips that range from equipment she sells to shortcuts on using Microsoft Word and mobile apps. She includes how-to screenshots and links to her videos. Her customers always say how useful her tips are.
- Print salesperson Veronica includes photos of her recent large format print installations and her customer’s words of praise. She includes local news summarized from the corporate newsletter. When we first started working together, Veronica sent her weekly newsletter to her higher ups, and later was promoted to a global sales position. Coincidence? I think not!
- Outside salesperson Josh includes his wacky sports predictions, his monthly giveaways, links to local music venues, and reviews of downtown food carts. His customers reply, “JOSH, you are CRAZY!” And they love him.
- Technical salesman Bob explains warranties, how to buy used equipment, trade show observations, and tips from manufacturers. His customers always open his quarterly newsletter, and they open again when they need trustworthy advice on the topics he covers.
- Vice president of sales Katherine talks about leadership, hard work, opportunities for women and minorities, and her volunteer work recruiting young people into the industry. When she was nominated for a local business award, we sent an invitation to her newsletter list, and her fans showed up in force!
- Owner Jessica takes highly technical information and laws pertaining to her customers’ industry and rewrites it for the layperson. Her insightful newsletter was forwarded to the publisher of a business magazine, who asked her to write a regular column.
In each case, the salesperson writes what comes easiest and is most authentic.
After awhile, every salesperson starts to see the kind of information their customers like to read. The great thing about doing this through an email program is you can see when readers opened, clicked, and replied. Salespeople tell me this has helped with their face-to-face and phone conversations as well, knowing what makes their customers tick.
BENEFITS TO THE SALES TEAM
What are the benefits when email newsletters are managed for the entire team?
First and foremost, the newsletters get done. When we launch email marketing campaigns, we are excited. Then it gets harder when it requires ongoing discipline and creativity.
Having a program that encompasses the entire sales team means there is accountability, support, internal competition between the salespeople, and regular deadlines. Even though a weekly newsletter sounds like a lot, it’s easier to get used to a weekly routine than a monthly one.
Getting feedback on results is also a benefit of using a program like this for the entire team. There’s nothing worse than wondering if sales emails go into a black hole. Running the communication through an email program allows us to view engagement, even if a reader does not send a reply. We can see which links catch their interest and whether readers open the newsletter more than once or forward it to others. We can analyze trends and make better decisions.
Having a team approach also gives salespeople a hard deadline to update their data in Salesforce or the CRM before we upload it into the email program. If newsletters are to be emailed on Tuesday, for example, I need the new list of contacts by 5 p.m. the Friday before. Sometimes the salesperson says, “No changes. Use last week’s list.” Not often, though. I think they want to achieve the best results for themselves and their team, as well as take advantage of this mighty customer outreach tool.
Once in awhile I have salespeople who run out of ideas. In these cases, I lead them through a questionnaire that always sparks ideas.
BENEFITS TO THE COMPANY
One benefit of the team newsletter approach is that the email data remains with the company, even if the salesperson leaves.
As I mentioned, we take the salesperson’s list and import it into the newsletter program. If a salesperson has a pocket prospect that hasn’t been entered into the CRM, that prospect won’t get the newsletter. So there is an incentive to the salesperson to keep the CRM updated.
If salespeople chronically do not update their list, it can be a clue to the sales manager that a salesperson is thinking about leaving the company. For that reason, our master email list is not accessible to individual salespeople. Anytime a salesperson leaves the company, we promptly change passwords on the CRM and on the newsletter program (and I’ve covered the importance of this security measure in my previous articles).
Another benefit to the company is that, if territories are reassigned, the new salesperson can review the older newsletters and get a feel for the customer base.
A strong benefit is that, if a customer leaves a job, we get a notification through the email program that the email address is no longer valid. If you are emailing a customer from your regular work address, you may or may not get a notification to that effect. So that is very useful for promptly tracking down customers before they forget you. And, we can also notify other departments who manage customer data, such as accounting, marketing and customer service.
If you are thinking of breaking into new verticals, using an email newsletter is an easy way to politely enter. You can partner with others who serve that vertical. Have your strategic partner introduce your company or salesperson and provide a link to your newsletter sign up page. You can reciprocate and introduce your partner to your market. One of my clients opened an entirely new vertical this way by partnering with an event company. We bundled allied print products to serve that sector, and promoted through the event company, which we managed through our own email service so we could track response rates.
Another area we developed was a separate list of print customers whose fiscal year ends September 30. We created a calendar based on their spending cycle, with email promotions and automated content to align with their year end. Readers who responded to the year-end promotion went into a drip campaign that triggered dynamic content on the salesperson’s personal newsletter.
Using an email newsletter also allows you to manage replies within the company. You can set it up so only the salesperson receives the replies, or you can blind copy the sales manager and/or the sales support team. More than once we have had a customer reply to the email with a customer service question or an inquiry on the status of a job. Having administrative staff in the loop ensures those replies are responded to right away.
If this all sounds complicated, it’s not.
Once everyone knows what’s expected of them and when, it flows pretty smoothly. In almost every company I consult with, we build a program of regular communication from the salespeople directly to customers.
If you have a email program already, feel free to add me to your list. I love seeing what companies are doing with email, and I promise to keep it confidential.
I hope this inspires your sales team to use professional email marketing to engage directly with customers on a regular basis. It works!
Sandy Hubbard consults with printing companies across the U.S. that want to get ahead and stay ahead. She helps owners and executive sales managers find market advantages and confidently act on opportunities. She teaches sales teams to sell more effectively in today’s print buying environment. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/sandyhubbardpublisher/ and mention this article.