The state of B2B email selling (and what you can do about it)

Mike Nicholson

According to Hubspot data, there are around 306 billion emails sent and received every day, and with the increase in services that allow sellers to discover buyers email addresses at scale, that number will almost certainly continue to rise - that's around 40 emails a day for every person on the planet by the way if they were spread out evenly.

At the seller level, each person is in control of who they email, how often they email them, and how many emails they send per day. However, when you move up stream to the buyer-level, the sheer volume of email traffic can be overwhelming, which makes it a tough place to get the attention of your buyers.

Sales is a numbers game

'Sales is a numbers game' is a truism of selling that is as old as the hills, and it is correct. It is important to scale the number of touchpoints you create, but smashing the quick-and-easy button, by spray-and-praying generic messages, is a tactic with increasingly poor returns. It is great at quantity, but so poor at quality.

Quality touchpoints

I recently spoke with Barney Worfolk-Smith, the Managing Director, EMEA, at Daivid about the state of B2B sales, and he said buyers are drowning in "a tsunami of irrelevance" which is very true.

The antidote to that email chaos is complex, but a big part of it is to send quality sales touchpoints, adding value wherever you can, and only to people you have researched and feel confident you can help.

The other key is to not be a total stranger in the inbox.

If there are a couple of hundred unread emails sat in your buyer's inbox, from clients, colleagues, direct reports, partners ... how likely do you think they are to give any attention to a stranger?

I ran a poll on LinkedIn asking people how they dealt with cold emails. There were 163 votes (at the time of writing) and the answers are:

- 64% - Delete it
- 24% - Mark it as SPAM
- 12% - Read & consider it

So let's assume that those percentages are accurate and use them in an example.

Let's say you sent a sales email to 1,000 email addresses:

- 1,000 emails sent
- 640 delete it
- 240 mark you as SPAM
- 120 read your email

Let's say 5% of the people who read your email respond, and 15% of those who respond convert.

That's 6 responses from 1,000 emails, and 0.9% of a new client.

Are you willing to annoy the 6,300 who deleted your email, or really annoy the 2,300 who immediately marked you as SPAM, with all the consequences that could have for your email domain and brand, for less than one new client per campaign?

A better way

The key here is to change cold email to warm email.

You will get more attention, and be deleted and marked as SPAM less often, if people feel that they have heard of you.

This is where social selling helps you to add quality AND quantity to your sales touchpoints, and turns your emails from cold to warm.

Identify, connect and engage with the people who have some influence over future buying decisions. Engage via the comments on their posts, and via your own content in the newsfeed.

Build digital relationships that enhance the relationships you have in the physical world.

This helps you to build awareness, familiarity, trust and interest in your products and services BEFORE you land in the email inbox.


Six Sells is a B2B communications agency for sales and marketing leaders.

We help your client-facing people to speak to more of your ideal clients, more often, via social media and personable content.

We offer training, consulting or done-for-you services, which increase the awareness, familiarity, trust and interest in your company and its products and services.

Email for more information.