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The Asking Lab


September 2014


Write the Best Email (in 8 steps)

You get about one-tenth of a second to generate attention to an email... about the time it takes to read the headline. Lose the audience at the “Subject” and Hemingway can’t save it from the “Trash.”

But, a strong subject, followed by a persuasive ask, will work every time. Here’s how: Use The Asking Formula to write a powerful email that will get read and get results.
1. Your subject line is Best Reason #1.

Nothing gets my attention like a solution to my problem. Best Reasons (Step 4 of The Asking Formula) are defined by: Why Would This Person say “Yes”? In this case, the “yes” is to read the body of the email. You need to arouse curiosity

2. Use a persuasive word in Your Best Reason/subject line.

Allow your audience to visualize why they should say “yes” by leading with a simple, persuasive word:
     “A Solution For Your Inventory Issue”
     “Reduced Upfront Development Costs”
     “Fast Turnaround On Your Order”
     “Shorten Your Sales Cycle By 25%”
Words like “solution,” “reduced,” “fast,” and “shorten” all appeal to your audience’s desire for outcomes.

3. Clearly State What You Want.

In the first line of your email, write a short, to-the-point asking statement that defines what you want (Steps 1 and 2 of The Asking Formula). Respect your audience’s time by getting right to the point.

Good: “I am asking for 30 minutes of your time next week to meet over the phone.”
Bad: “Bill, I see on my calendar that I am in town next week and was wondering, if you aren’t too busy, if you would like to meet with me sometime when it is convenient.”
Ugly: “For over 40 years my firm, ACME, has been a leader in the business of inventory software solutions and I’m proud to be visiting your city and….”

4. 3 bullet points = 3 Best Reasons.

After your asking statement, list 3 Best Reasons why the audience should say "yes." You’ve already used Best Reason #1 in the subject line: repeat it here. Follow with 2 more Best Reasons. Remember, each Best Reason starts with 1 of the following words: you, your, our, or we. Keep each Best Reason to one sentence.

Don’t start a Best Reason with “My firm is offering a one-time only inventory control software solution that…”  Rather, start by reminding your audience: "You shared with me your desire to reduce inventory holding costs in the coming year. As a matter of fact, you said it was priority #1.” 

5. Always name drop.

“Lonny Smith was pleased with the work we did with him and his team at Chrysler and recommended that you and I should meet.” I often make this a part of my subject line (ex: Lonny Smith Recommends We Meet).

6. Repeat your ask.

Be sure it is the same as your opening asking statement. Be specific. Do you want a meeting? How long? Phone or in person? When? Who else should be there? 

7. Stop writing.

No “ands” or “by the ways.” Stop. Simply repeat your ask. If you have background information vital to your request, put it in an attachment for later reading.

8. Follow Up.

I get thousands of emails each week. So do you. Most go immediately into "Trash." Some I read and handle right away. A healthy portion sit in my in-box until I have time to focus on them. Before you know it…two weeks have gone by. A follow up phone call or email goes a long way to bring your “ask” back to the top of the list.

Get results by using The Asking Formula in your next email.

The Asking Formula app, ASK U, is now available in the App store on iTunes. Ask U, powered by Sales Fitness, puts the power of The Asking Formula in the palm of your hand. Read more here.

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Copyright © 2014 The Asking Formula - John Baker, All rights reserved.

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