You sly dog—you got me monologuing!

Subscriber Ant is a consultant who helps companies use elearning in their businesses.

He writes:

I recently purchased your product on writing an email course and am getting a lot of value out of it – so thank you for that.

One question I have – I have read elsewhere that you should try and use each email to try and spark some conversation with your subscribers – but you don't make any mention of that within your strategy. Do you think this is less important when trying to sell a product or service?

In my case, I am trying to build a list in order to sell a paid roadmapping engagement (currently priced at $1000).

The intent behind that suggestion is good:

To bring your subscribers into a conversation so you're not just lecturing or monologuing at them like Syndrome (ever see The Incredibles?).

However I take issue with the blanket statement that “every email” should try to get a conversation going.

Instead I'd consider this one of those techniques you can keep in your tool bag and pull out as situation warrants.

In the course Ant mentioned, my objective is to make sales for a relatively low-priced info product in an “autopilot” fashion.

In that case going out of my way to start a conversation would be counterproductive—creating extra work answering emails while potentially hurting sales.

In other situations though, starting a conversation might be the most productive thing you can do.

For example, if you're in the early stages of building an audience and you don't have a product or service to sell yet, then the most valuable thing you can do is have as many conversations as possible with your growing audience.

And in that case yeah you might want to end every email with a probing question to provoke a reply.

In Ant's case, he already has a “product” in mind: his roadmapping engagement.

Most prospects probably won't just paypal you a grand out of the blue, though.

They'll likely have some questions before they're ready to pull the trigger.

What I'd do here is to make sure to sell the benefits of the roadmapping service in the majority of your emails.

Make sure it's crystal clear that the roadmapping engagement is what they need first.

But at the end of your emails, rather than sending them to a “buy now” link, give them a way to raise their hand without committing to purchase.

Often the simplest way to do that is with a question that invites a reply.

It could also be some kind of no-obligation application process or free initial consultation.

If they don't respond to that after several attempts, that would be a great time to ask an open-ended question to help you figure out if they're a fit for your service.