The days of cold calling, auto dialing, and sending mass emails are over.  Not only is it no longer effective, it’s downright annoying to the business owners and leaves them with a negative impression of you.

Before you can get in the door with someone, you’ve got to get their attention.  Nothing works better than a personal approach.  That means you’re going to have do a little research before firing off an email or picking up the phone.  The average office worker gets 121 emails a day.  The open rate for B2B emails is just 21% and the click-through rate – taking an action – is hovering about 2.5%.  That means you’ve got to do something different than everybody else if you want to avoid the delete key.

8 Tips for Personalizing Sales Calls

  1. Get to know your Prospect

The more time you put into research a prospect, the better chance you should get their attention.  It’s never been easier to find out information about them than now.  Doing a quick Google search, finding their LinkedIn profile, or seeking them out on Facebook can reveal an incredible amount of data.  So much information is available that you can run the risk of creeping them out if you go too far!

Finding a connection to someone you know can help crack the door open a bit.  That leads us to…

  1. Referrals

There is nothing better than getting a referral from someone you both know to open the conversation.  When you wrap up a job for someone and they’re happy about what you’ve done for them, ask if they know anyone else that would benefit from your service or product.  If they give you a name, you can personalize that call or email by letting them know their friend suggested them.

If they reach out to their friend, she’ll likely give you a glowing review.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable give you a referral.

  1. Referrals, Part Two

Even better than getting the referral is to have your mutual connection make the call for you and do the introduction.  Even if they don’t want to talk to you, they will feel obligated to take the call so they avoid offending their friend.

  1. Butter ‘Em Up

Flattery works.  Everybody, it seems, likes to be told they are good at their job.  Not only does it make your prospect feel good, but it gets them into an agreeable frame of mind.  Positive, personal statements tend to lead the prospect to think of you more positively.  It works even when the recipient knows you’re just buttering them up.  That’s not me talking.  It’s science!   Research demonstrates that even insincere flattery makes a positive impression.

  1. Find Common Ground

The same internet research can lead you to find common grounds to establish a relationship.  Do you eat at the same restaurant?  Have similar tastes in music?

“I hope you don’t mind, but before I called I looked at your Facebook page.  I see you went on vacation to XYZ Beach.  My husband and I were thinking about taking the kids there this summer. What do you think?”

  1. Know their business

Knowing when to call can be just as important as what you say.  You wouldn’t try to call a restaurant to sell them something in the middle of their lunch rush.  The same goes for any business.  Avoid their pressure times.  On the flipside, a well-timed call can be effective.  Knowing their business cycles will help you know when to call.  If you’re selling advertising, for example, you can personalize the call – and get their attention – by knowing that their new product line launches two months from now.

Have we mentioned how easy it is to research somebody and learn quickly about them?  The same goes for their business. If you don’t know, look it up first.

  1. Stay “Fresh”

It’s hard to make a lot of sales calls and not sound like a robot.  Even the hint of a “canned presentation” will likely cause a negative reaction and a quick exit.  Have you gotten one of those cold calls from a stock broker?  They talk so fast and throw out terms that don’t make sense to the average person just in the hope they’ll hit something that will peak somebody’s interest.  Don’t be that guy!

Get yourself in the right frame of mind to call, do your research first, and plan how you are going to create a personal connection with someone – even if they are a stranger.

  1. Take Notes and Follow Up

Have a system to capture the information you get during the call.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but don’t trust your memory.  Grab a notebook and write down anything that comes up in the call that you can use to personalize the next contact.  Don’t use the computer to type while you talk.  Prospects may hear you typing and think you’re not paying attention to them, or they may think you’re taking notes and be more guarded about what they share.

This information will come in handy on the next call or the follow-up and helps you personalize the approach.

12 Tips for Personalizing Sales Emails

  1. Start with your name

How many times have you looked at your phone when it rings and see either a blocked number of a call from a company and just ignored it?  Making sure your name shows up when you call makes a big difference.  The same goes for getting your emails opened.  68% of email users report they decide whether to open an email based on who is sending it.  Even a name they don’t know may raise their curiosity level.  A company name instantly says sales call!

If you can’t do that because of the way your company sets up your email or phones, try our next tip

  1. One Simple Thing can increase conversions by nearly 50%

Just doing one small thing can increase your odds dramatically.  Personalizing the subject line with the recipient’s name can increase the open rate by 29.3%, per Experian.  Experian tracked emails with personalized subject lines through the sales funnel and the results were astounding.  Transaction rates increased 49% and revenue per email grew 73%!

If you’re sending out mass emails, you can automate this task.  However, the more personal you make the approach, the better your odds.  The same technique can work for phone calling.

  1. Customize your Subject Line

Consider putting your call-to-action request or business reason for the email right in your subject line.  If it’s a cold call email, you’re CTA is just to get them to open it and read.

“Jim, if you open this email, I guarantee I can help your business:

Using parenthesis or brackets as part of your subject line can be effective in a subject line for two reasons.  First, it can cut through the clutter.  Secondly, it highlights exactly what the email is about without having to spend a lot of time.  Remember, they’re likely getting hundreds of emails a day and deleting all but a handful.  Here are a couple of examples.

(30-Second Survey)
(Best deal of the year)

  1. Use their name

It sounds simple, but it makes a difference.  Done correctly, it shows it’s not just a blanket cut-and-paste email.  Software systems that interject names into the first sentence are all too common these days, so varying where their name shows up works better.

Saying the prospect’s name breeds a feeling of familiarity.  It triggers an unconscious (positive) response.  Just don’t overdo it.

  1. Research your Prospect

Whether you’re calling on the phone, meeting them in person, or sending out an email, the faster you can make a connection with someone, the greater your odds of moving them forward in the sales cycle.  Get on your computer and do a quick search to uncover information you can use.

“I saw you wrote a blog post about how your company landed a huge contract.  Congrats!”

  1. Relevant Content

If you’re in the market for a new car, an email about new automaker incentive from an auto dealer is no longer something spamming your inbox.  It’s information that’s tailored to your current state-of-mind – even if it’s just a mass email from some form you filled out months ago and forgot about. Finding relevant content takes a little work, but it sends a powerful message:  I understand your business and I can help.

Great salespeople regularly research industry trends.  Find an article about your prospect’s industry and send it on to them with a simple message, such as “I found this article and wondered if you’re seeing the same thing at your shop?”

  1. Celebrate!

Work anniversaries and birthdays are great openers to put someone in a good frame of mind right from the start.  It’s easy enough to find online these days and it’s a great conversation starter.  If they are a current customer, or they signed up for your newsletter, let them know.

“Today is your three-year anniversary of working with our company.  Congratulations!  To celebrate the occasion, we’re offering a 15% discount…”

  1. Use a little Personality

A conversational tone, sprinkled with a little humor, can make your approach more compelling.  Even if you’ve got a great product or message, that delete key is nearby.  People can smell “corporate speak” a mile away.  Don’t be afraid to open up about yourself and interject a personal touch.

  1. Get topical

If everybody’s talking about the big game last night, consider using it as an opener – especially if you’ve done a little research and know your prospect’s interests.  If your prospect is in Alabama, you can bet they’ll know what happened to the Crimson Tide last weekend (even if they aren’t a sports fan).  Find a way to work it into your email – maybe as an opening line.  If you can find a way to relate it to your business reason, even better!

  1. Automate your Approach

There are probably thousands of software systems that can help you personalize your email marketing.  Using a database, it can automatically add in names, significant dates, and relevant information.

If you don’t have access to such a system, keeping a plain old notebook on your contacts can work, too.

  1. Segment your Prospects

What works for one customer doesn’t necessarily work for another.  If you’re selling financial services, you wouldn’t approach a 60-year old thinking about retirement the same way you’d approach at 30-year old that just had their first child.  Dividing your prospects into categories so that you can customize your approach to groups can save you time.

Segmented and target emails have a significant advantage.  58% of all revenue generated from email comes from targeted, segmented email marketing.

Categories include:

  • Demographic (Age, Gender)
  • Geographic
  • Industry
  • Interests
  • Buyer Persona
  • Job Function (Seniority, Title, Job duties)
  • Purchasing history


  1. Go Old School

Years ago, your physical mailbox got more action that your inbox.  Today, the snail mail coming your way is mostly junk that you route through quickly, but it has one big advantage:  You look at every piece and decide whether to read on.

Sending a letter – yes, an actual letter – can make you stand out.  You can use the same techniques that work with email to personalize it.  Taking the time to write the letter and sending it might just get it read.  Here are some other ideas:

  • A hand-written note
  • A newspaper article (yes, they still print these)
  • A thank you card
  • A real birthday card (not the email card)

Wrapping Up

Every day, 269 billion emails are flying around the internet.  That’s 2.4 million emails being sent every second.  1 out of every 8 people in the United States are employed in sales.  That’s a lot of people calling on the same potential customers you are.  If you want yours to be noticed, you need to get personal.

It will take extra work and extra time.  It may mean investing in software and systems.  But if after reading this, you’re still on the fence about whether it’s worth it, think about this:  on average, personalized emails can lead to increased sales by an average of 20%.  I don’t know about you, but a 20% increase in sales would be worth the investment to me.