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The Simple Framework For Emails That Get To Yes

Derek Halpern
Derek Halpern

November 13, 2012

The psychology behind why people respond—and say YES—to emails from people they don't know.

Today I want to tell you about two people.

These two people are very similar as they both emailed me asking for something.

But only one of them got anything.

Why?

I'll explain that in just a second, but first, a quick question:

Have you ever tried to contact someone—a potential client, a journalist, or an influential person—for your business?

You sent them an email, and...

...crickets.

Then you wonder:

"Did they even see the email? Is it in their spam folder?"

"Maybe they saw my email, but my subject line wasn't good enough?"

"Crap. Maybe I said something wrong, and they hate me."

Sound familiar?

If yes, then you need to know what I reveal about these two emails—one that succeeded and one that failed.

First, let me share the two separate emails:

Email #1:

Derek, can you please give me access to your product? I'm dead broke because I just lost my job. I know your product will work for me, and I'll happily pay you for it at a later date.

Email #2:

I heard you mention that you don't have transcripts and thought I'd take a shot.

Proposed: I would produce audio/video transcripts [in exchange] for your course. The speech will be formatted similar to the sample below, broken into paragraphs as needed for readability.

The final transcripts for each module will be submitted as a text file and also a PDF file that is ready for downloading. At no additional charge I can place the Social Triggers logo in the header of each document.

If desired I can also produce a course Table of Contents for participants to download (handy if you are printing and organizing course materials.)

Pricing appears to be in the $75 - 90+ / audio hour range. I would be willing to transcribe up to 10 audio hours for admission into the course.

If you have significantly more audio or would like to alter or add to my proposal please let me know.

Finally, I would be happy to offer you one free 'sample' transcription if you would like (up to one audio hour) prior to reaching a final agreement.

Which one do you think I responded to?

Email #2, obviously...

...but WHY?

On the surface, you'll say, "Well, in the first email, it's all about the person emailing, whereas the second one is all about the person being emailed."

And you'd be right.

But there's more going on here.

So let's break it down.

1. Passes the WIFT Test

It's like the internet turns regular people into panhandlers, and emails like email #1 are commonplace.

But the easiest way to ensure YOU don't look like a panhandler is to run your email through "The WIFT Test."

What's "The WIFT test?"

It's simple. After you're done writing your email, you simply ask yourself, "What's In It For Them?"

Then, if you can't come up with something that directly benefits the person you're emailing, you failed.

Email #1 fails because the email is ALL about the person who's writing the email, not the person who's receiving the email.

Here's another example:

"I heard your podcast interview which was really inspiring to me. I have my own blog, and I'm trying to get more visitors to come in but I am not sure why I am not getting a lot a of visitors. Please take a look and please give an honest opinion. I want to blog about what it takes to be an entrepreneur."

[Facepalm]

Nothing in that email has anything to do with the person being emailed, other than a small, empty compliment.

What's weird is, a simple tweak to that email could have made it work like a charm. He could have said:

"I listened to your podcast, and loved what you said about improving conversions. I used your advice, and it worked. If you want me to share the data with you, I'll gladly do it. It could be a nice testimonial. What do you think? Do you have a second to take a look at what I did, and maybe we can make this one of your BEST testimonials."

Would that work?

Yep — Because it passes the "What's in it for them" test with flying colors.

Is he asking for help?

Yes, but he's offering me a testimonial, something that I want, in exchange for my time.

Now take this back to the original Email #2.

"What's in it for them?"

Free transcripts for me. A free course for her. #winning

Email tip: Before you send an email to anyone, ask yourself "What's in it for them?" If you come up with nothing compelling, don't send it.

2. The email Minimizes Brain Pain

This part is KEY.

Once you run your email through the WIFT test, the next step is to make sure whatever you're asking for (or offering up) is specific.

Here's a quick example:

"I would like to be a student as well as affiliate of yours. I'm just not interested in disclosing every detail through email. Principles."

Would you respond to an email like that?

Didn't think so.

They are not telling me anything. As Homer would said, "hurts my brain."

[Delete].

 

Now if someone emailed me and said:

"I'd like to be an affiliate of yours. I've got around 1,000 subscribers, and I know that I could move some product. Would you have a second to brainstorm how I might be able to sell more of what you're offering?"

Would you respond to that?

Yep.

And it has nothing to do with the 1,000 subscribers. You'd respond because that email tells you exactly what this person will do for you.

But let's take this back to the first two emails I shared earlier in this article...

The second email worked well because they offered something specific (transcripts for my product at no cost).

But if they said "I'd like to work for you for free in exchange for your product. Do you have anything I could do for you?", I would have ignored them in a second.

Why?

Because I don't want emails from random people to create work for me. I've got enough work already.

Look at it like this:

If someone emails you, and asks you "What's your opinion on my website?", how would you respond?

You'd probably wonder, "Where do I even begin?"

But what if someone emailed you and said "What's your opinion on the headline I've used for my latest blog post?"

That would be a MUCH easier question to answer because it's specific, and more importantly, it doesn't require you to think.

Email tip: Use concrete language that describes exactly what you want (and what you plan to offer). Make it so clear that the person you're emailing doesn't have to expend one ounce of brainpower.

3. The email was risk-free

This is the part most people forget when they email people they don't know... and ask for something.

You need to pass the WIFT test and minimize brain pain, but you also need to make sure the person you'e emailing has NO RISK.

Let's take it back to the transcript email...

I wanted transcripts, but there's risk involved when dealing with transcripts...

"What if the transcripts suck?"

But this person eradicated that risk when they said:

"Finally, I would be happy to offer you one free 'sample' transcription if you would like (up to one audio hour) prior to reaching a final agreement."

Hook. Line. Sinker.

I agreed to give them access to my premium course for free in 2 seconds flat.

Email tip: When you ask someone for anything, what's the risk associated with what you're asking for and what you're offering? Make sure you alleviate that risk in your email.

Now I'd like to provide you with a simple template that I've personally used to get NYT best-selling authors (Dan Ariely), world renowned researchers (Sheena Iyengar), and extremely busy professors from top universities (Jonah Berger) on my podcast Social Triggers Insider.

Here's the email:

Hi Professor X,

Just picked up your new book Mutant Myths, and it's great. Thank you.

Would you be interested in doing a short audio interview where we go over some of the key concepts in your book?

It will last about 30 minutes, and I plan to share the finished product with my readers over at Social Triggers.

(There's more than 70,000 combined subscribers, and I know they'll love what you have to say... in addition to wanting to buy your book. I also had Wolverine on, and they loved him).

If you're interested, I can provide all the questions in advance or we can ad lib it. Whatever makes you more comfortable.

I'd like to record it sometime within the next few weeks. I've got a flexible schedule and will work around yours.

Let me know if you're interested.

I made up names here, but you get the point. I showcased my subscribers to prove to them that I have an audience that can buy their book.

I also mentioned Wolverine, someone he would know because I knew that would entice him a bit more.

But you're likely wondering:

"What if I don't have 70,000 subscribers? What else can I offer busy people?"

"What if I haven't featured someone else they know? What if they're the first person I'm emailing?"

You can tweak the email just like this:

Hi Professor X,

Just picked up your new book Mutant Myths, and it's great. Thank you.

Would you be interested in doing a short audio interview where we go over some of the key concepts in your book?

It will last about 30 minutes, and I plan to share the finished product with my readers over at Social Triggers.

(I plan to make Social Triggers the #1 resource for people looking for advice about mutants. And I know my readers will love what you have to say... in addition to wanting to buy your book. I plan to feature you alongside Wolverine, Storm, and Cyclops.).

If you're interested, I can provide all the questions in advance or we can ad lib it. Whatever makes you more comfortable.

I'd like to record it sometime within the next few weeks. I've got a flexible schedule and will work around yours.

Let me know if you're interested.

See what I did there?

Instead of talking about my subscribers, I mentioned that I plan to make my site the #1 resource.

And instead of telling Professor who I had already featured, I'm telling him who I plan to feature.

A little reframing, and the email works perfectly.

And that's it.

Now go get things from people you don't know over email.

- Derek Halpern, Social Triggers

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