Think about your own behavior. You value more what you ask for and less what people offer you. Right? So think about it. Should you offer PDF attachments as a sales outreach best practice? Stop. Remember, the psychology is proven.

Prospects value what they ask for---more than attachments you offer (push). Avoiding attachments (especially in cold email) is vital.

Instead, find a way to help prospects feel an urge to ask you for the information contained within it. Create demand for it. THEN share it.

Our members often earn more response by doing so. Even better, customers may call YOU, asking for the information contained your attachment.

This is the most important reason to not include your PDF attachment in your sales email templates.

Reason 1: Deliverability

If you already understand, good! Skip to reason 2.

Most corporate email servers, ISPs and spam prevention technologies view email attachments from strangers as security risks. Why does that matter?

Your email may not get delivered--all because you sent it with an attachment. Worse, you will not receive a "bounce back" notification that your email failed to deliver. If you track opens, it will show as "not opened." But in some cases it may present a false positive---show as "opened" by the technology scanning it. (not your customer)

Even if you've been told this is a best practice for email attachments in your sales emails---beware.

But there's more.

Reason 2: Context of your customer

A PDF should never be able to explain the value or merits of your product within a specific context as well as you can.

So why send a deck and let a static document do the selling instead of you?” asks Scott Britton, Co-founder of Troops.

Key words here are “within a specific context.”

Our job as salespeople is to apply content (PDF attachments, links) within context. So if you have a case, white paper, report, infographic, whatever, effective use means applying it in the right context in the “buying journey,” as a general best practice for email attachments in your sales journey.

This requires assessment of the buyer's context first. Everything else is just pushing information at someone who doesn't want it. How can I say that? Easy. All day long your prospects are bombarded with content via email and LinkedIn---a whole bunch of information they didn't ask for.

Avoid being part of it. The quickest way to blend in to the noise is to do what everyone else is doing. Sending attachments and links.

Reason 3: They don't want it (yet)

Do your prospects need the knowledge your document provides? Yes.

Might their job or income depend on knowing about it? Yes.

Might your case study be better than others being pushed at them by competitors? Yes.

Let's assume all of these are true.

It remains THEIR decision to want it. They've got to want it first. THEN they'll read it.

Believe me. They are being SMOTHERED by sellers of all flavors pushing, pushing, pushing.

Your job is to help them want the knowledge inside your PDF. The best way to get them to want it is to not push. This is what sales copywriting does.

Helps the customer persuade themselves---rather than your attempting to persuade them.

Sounds obvious, right? (Then why are you doing it---or at least considering it?)

Reason 4: An attachment should not out-sell you

If your marketing content can out-sell you, frankly, you should be in a different field. You should be fired. I'm serious.

PDF attachments, links to videos... these are all

  1. what everyone is doing;
  2. lazy;
  3. seeking to have content do the heavy lifting.

Customers see all 3 of these. Delete key! (or spam button)

Sales practices sales copywriting. Stay away from marketing copywriting tactics. They're lazy and transparent. 

Reason 5: It discourages customers from interacting

Let's say you attach the PDF/case study to your sales email. Maybe you're not convinced. So let's say you send it ... and it gets through. They receive it AND read it. Success, right?

Not really. Because you won't get the chance to understand anything about their reaction to it ... and lose a perfect excuse to follow up.

“If they’re not into (motivated by) your offering after reviewing your deck, there is literally no reason to hop on a call with you,” says Mr. Britton.

Bang on. Let that sink in.

If a prospect asks you for the information, they qualify themselves to you. You know they're interested enough to want the knowledge. They're hungry for it. You know because they just told you. I know this sounds obvious but bear with me.

If you freely give the information (first) by sticking a PDF email attachment into your email templates, you get left in the dark. You:

  1. are unsure they received your message
  2. lose the chance to qualify them and understand if the knowledge matters (or not), WHY & how much
  3. won't know how they felt upon reading it (Did they have questions? Was something unclear? Exciting?)
  4. lose an excuse to follow up with the prospect ("Were you piqued by the case, Jim?")

When you deliver requested information, you should hold customers accountable for reading it. Why? Because it helps them remain accountable to their own request. Nifty, eh?

"Jim, when would be a good time to call for 5 minutes -- to get your reaction and understand IF you'd like to proceed... or not?" It's simple to ask, "how much time to do you need to look it over?" and, thus, hold Jim accountable to his own request to know more!

And if Jim answers you with a tap-dance (if he's not willing to commit a date)? No worries.

You know Jim's priority level for this project, at this moment (it's not a priority)!

As Mr. Britton says, “Don’t take yourself out of play, own the sale.”

Because if you rely on that PDF, well, you are all but giving up. You are also just like 95% of sales people out there. You're not at the top of your game. Heck, you're not even in the dang game!

Don't rush your case study

It's common to use case studies in sales email templates as email attachments. But the goal of your cold email message is not to earn purchase consideration. It's not even to earn a meeting. It is to earn a reply.


Stop pushing case studies at prospects who don't, yet, have enough interest to look at 'em.

The majority of cold prospects don't have the ability to want the case (yet). Because they're not interested in qualifying you (yet). They're not in a discussion (yet) that would cause them to qualify you.

The goal is to get them to talk with you—about their goals, fears or burning desires. Then, you'll be in a position to assess if they're interested in qualifying you; at which point, you can offer a case that fits their application context.

Need some help with this part? Join us for a live, online workshop.

Think of it like a first date: The more you promote what you want, the less you'll get it. The more you allow them to respond and discuss, the more you'll get it.

What is your experience? I'm open to hearing it.

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

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