Email has become the primary communication tool for sales reps. We use email to prospect instead of cold call. We confirm meetings via email. We follow up on sales calls with an email. We answer prospects’ questions through email. We discuss proposal terms in email. Some savvy sales reps even close the sale through email!

For the last two years I’ve guided sales reps on how to write prospecting emails that get a response. I’ve shared all my secret tips and tricks and they’re working for you!

I’ve received scores of emails – and even some phone calls – from sales reps telling me how they’ve successfully broken past gatekeepers to secure meetings with reluctant top prospects and silent customers.

A simple change to the subject line, short one sentence paragraphs, focus on a business issue, an emoticon and an exclamation point to personalize your message, and suddenly your cold calling email gets you in the door.

But what happens once you’re in the sales process and using email to answer a complex solution question or discuss proposal or contract terms?

The same prospecting email approach for these emails? You shouldn’t.

Emails later in the sales process are different. Let’s examine why.

While you want to maintain your friendly demeanor, once you engage in the sales process and begin answering prospects’ questions and validating information, you’re actually entering a negotiation. Your contacts are asking specific solution or contract related questions and your answers influence their decision.

They’re reading your response and weighing it against your competitors and sharing it with the decision making team.

All you wanted to do was shoot off a quick response to keep the sale moving forward. If you aren’t careful what you’ve written and how you’ve written it, you may find that you’ve agreed to terms you never intended.

Suddenly you’ve agreed to a different payment structure or thrown in free training, which you’d never do in a face-to-face negotiation. The idea of offering a trade-off or making a counter offer didn’t even occur to you. You just thought you were answering a few questions.

You were caught unaware.

You didn’t realize you’d begun an email negotiation because you weren’t expecting it and you can’t take back what you wrote.

As more prospects and customers respond to your sales emails, you’ll find yourself negotiating through written email. Your negotiation emails will probably be saved for a long time and used as you implement your solution. Make sure what you committed to is actually what you wanted, not what you thought would keep you in the running.

It’s critical that you recognize when the switch from prospecting to negotiating is occurring, and subtly change your writing style. Take time to respond thoughtfully and completely. Then you’ll be able to successfully negotiate and close more deals even through email.

If you find yourself frequently negotiating through email, join Jeanette Nyden for the 3-part webinar series “Email Negotiation: How to Win More Deals.” Discover how to create an effective email negotiation strategy that integrates powerful questioning, making proposals, identifying tradeoffs and suggesting counteroffers that improve your deal closing ability. Get the details here:

Author's Bio: 

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. Visit to download your free copy of the PowerProspecting Sales Kit valued at $216 and to subscribe to her newsletter. Follow her on Twitter at, on Facebook at, on LinkedIn at