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New data unveils a surprisingly simple tactic to get more responses!

A single pronoun will increase response rates on your sales emails

July 7, 2021
Emanuel Frauenlob
CEO and co-founder of Mesg.ai

Having spent hours building your leadlist and researching your prospects you finally start your sales email sequence. You’ve personalised your message, and ensured that your call to action is not too demanding, but your response rates are much lower than you’re hoping for.

So you’re left wondering what other means do you have to improve the response rate on your sales emails?

It might be simpler than you think!

The collective ‘we’ fallacy

Customer-centricity has been at the center of sales enablement discussions for decades. Highlighted by the rise of consultative selling, the aim to reposition a supplier as a trusted partner and the sales tactics that try to establish a sense of “shared purpose”.

In sales emails this is reflected by the excessive use of the collective ‘we’. “As sales leaders, we are tackling the issue of …”, “As hardware developers, we are facing new regulations …”, “As business owners, we are working hard to …” are examples of using the collective ‘we’.

This is of course very different from the self-referential ‘we’ as in “We have customers in …”, We have over 1000 employees working on …”, “We can help you to …”.

While it’s broadly accepted that the self-referential ‘we’ will not be effective in cold sales emails, the collective ‘we’ is still broadly used by salespeople across industries. Promoters of the collective ‘we’ argue that it creates an atmosphere of inclusion. That it communicates that the seller is a part of the “tribe” and can relate to the buyer’s problems. But is it working?

‘You’ produces significantly better results than ‘we’

As early as in 1982, Professor Robert Caldini - author of the must-read “Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion” - showed that salespeople using ‘you’-phrasing sold more than twice as much cable TV subscriptions than the peer group using ‘we’-phrasing.

But is this insight also applicable to cold sales emails? In a recent study, Corporate Visions analysed the impact of ‘you’ vs. ‘we’ on the two most critical dimensions of buyer engagement: The level of interest and the sense of urgency.

This study was based on 4 sets of different outreach emails. The emails were identical except for the formulation of the problem and solution statement, which came in 4 configurations. The we/we phrasing (both solution and problem statement in ‘we’-phrasing), the you/you phrasing, the we/you phrasing, and the you/we phrasing.

When analysing the level of interest and the sense of urgency those emails there was a clear winner: The ‘you/you’ email.

Chart 1: ‘You’-phrasing creates most buyer engagement

The ‘you’-phrasing performed best on both dimensions:

  • On the level of interest, it outperformed pure ‘we’-phrasing by +21%.
  • For sense of urgency, the positive impact was +16% vs. the ‘you/we’ email.

The rationale behind these results is that using ‘you’ in your outreach, adds clarity to your message. There is no doubt who you mean when you say ‘you’. Compared to ‘we’, which is blurry in terms of who is impacted and who holds responsibility.

This softness in the ‘we’ approach is probably one reason why it’s still often used in sales outreach. The ‘we’-phrasing is the predominant engagement approach of salespeople, used in 48% instances, according to the same Corporate Vision study.

Use software to stay buyer-centric

Writing effective emails is difficult. Writing cold sales emails that get a response is very difficult! There are so many rules and guidelines to follow when crafting your outreach message that it’s impossible to keep track of all of them. Mesg.ai has an integrated buyer-centricity checker that allows you to focus on your content, while your writing assistant makes sure you stay in ‘you’ phrasing.

Besides buyer-centricity, Mesg.ai also helps with the overall quality of your sales copy and provides you with relevant insights on your buying persona.

Call it out: Use ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ and benefit from higher response rates

Going forward, don’t shy away from formulating clearly what problem your customer is facing, and how your solution is helping to solve it. Use ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ and you’ll see better response rates.

Let me know how it worked.

Speak to a member of the team to find out how Mesg.ai can help you scale your outreach.
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