Have you noticed that suddenly you're negotiating with your customers and prospects through email? They don't have time for face-to-face or phone meetings. Instead, they'd just like "a few quick questions" answered through email so they can make a decision.

As this occurs, it's critical that sales reps adjust their easy-going sales prospecting email approach to a more formal and professional business writing style to successfully negotiate in this new manner.

Here are a few ways in which sales prospecting emails and negotiation emails are different so you know what to change.

Subject lines - In prospecting emails you want to draw prospects in. You write email subject lines that feel very personal to them such as "Can we talk Tuesday at 2pm?"

In negotiation emails your subject should directly relate to the topic of the most current email. For example, "Training for the HR team."

Format - Prospecting emails must look easy to read. Your crazy-busy prospects who don't know you yet don't have time for long emails highlighting your customers' favorite features in your solutions. Keep emails short and to the point.

Negotiation emails, on the other hand, may be quite long. If you're answering a customer's question on how to best train the human resources team on the new software application you're recommending, you want to provide detailed information. The ideal, of course, would be to discuss it on the phone, but that isn't always an option.

Forwarding - In prospecting you limit the number of emails you forward as you continue to follow up to break through the email gatekeeper. At most you'll forward only three emails.

In an email negotiation you forward the entire negotiation string of emails. This keeps all the discussions together so any new people who are added to the distribution list throughout the negotiation can easily follow the conversation. When an email negotiation is complete, there may be 8-10 pages of emails, but that's okay.

Content - Prospecting emails focus on one trigger event or business issue you anticipate the prospect is experiencing. Your purpose is to let the prospect know you are an expert in that issue and have some ideas to share. Just as in cold calling, your goal is to set an appointment.

In a negotiation email your goal is to fully answer the contact's question while avoiding giving up anything valuable to you. Ultimately you want to close the sale. You ask questions to better understand what's important to the prospect. You may make a counter offer, or a trade off, but you do so knowingly.

Negotiation emails look very formal compared to prospecting emails, but they have to. Your negotiation email will be saved as part of the contract documentation long after the prospecting email has been deleted. Be careful how you write your emails and you'll find yourself not only breaking into new prospects, but also closing more sales opportunities.