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March 14, 2016 // 8:30 AM

28 Sales Email Templates Guaranteed to Get a Response & Start a Relationship

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Yes, you read the title right -- I guarantee that these templates will get responses from prospects. No, this isn't an infomercial. And you're right that they won't work every time. But, compared to the overly salesy prospecting email templates most salespeople are sending, I am confident that these will work better -- or your money back. Start sending customized sales prospecting emails with HubSpot's free CRM now.

To be eligible, just pay me one easy payment of $99.99 before reading the rest of this article.

Any takers? No? Moving on ...

I'm not sure where sales prospecting went bad. I don't know what happened exactly. But I do have a theory. My theory is that someone applied some math to this whole prospecting sales funnel-y thing and realized that spam is actually a decent prospecting method. That’s worth repeating -- to be clear, the majority of sales development reps (SDR) and inside salespeople today seem to believe that spam is the most efficient prospecting method available to them. After all, why should SDRs spend time crafting 100 personalized emails when sending the same generic email to 1,000 people results in the same number of responses?

But, I don’t blame our SDRs or our salespeople. This sad state of affairs is fully the fault of sales leaders -- including myself. In our pursuit of short term productivity, we’ve become addicted to the efficiency that technology provides. Caught up in this technology obsession, we’ve neglected to teach junior sales professionals how to build relationships. Somewhere along the way, we became way too enamored with “Predictable Revenue.” All of the critical lessons we used to teach from our dog-eared copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People were pushed aside to make time for analysis and review of funnel conversion metrics.  

Shame on us. While technology and metrics are extremely valuable sales tools, relationship skills are still what builds businesses.

Whether sales leaders feel guilty or not for their role in the devolvement of prospecting, we're on the cusp of a sea change that will force us to challenge our email prospecting methods. Prospects are ignoring emails, and clicking the spam button. They're voting angrily with their mouse. They're giving us the virtual dial tone or the virtual door in our face. But, we can’t hear or it or feel it through email, of course. It's like flipping the bird to the TV -- prospects can do it without fear or the guilt that comes from slamming a door in a salesperson's face.

And up until now, what have salespeople done in response? Send more email to more prospects, of course. When a message goes unanswered or gets flagged as spam, salespeople don't feel the rejection, so there’s nothing to prompt reflection. They simply copy and paste another email, and click “send.” It’s too easy to just send more emails to more prospects.

But this “send more email” approach will not be sustainable long-term. Just like spammers destroyed Myspace, Twitter blocked automated following, and caller ID crushed the effectiveness of cold calling, cold email spamming from salespeople isn't going to work forever either -- even if the messages are personalized by algorithms and predicted to perform. What will happen? Ten percent response rates will become 6%, 6% will become 1%, and 1% will become zero eventually. So no matter how efficiently salespeople can guess (or trade) email addresses, schedule spam, or use technology to fake personalization, it eventually won't matter. It’s a race to zero, no matter how you look at it.

It's time to get back to the basics. Back to how salespeople used to sell when the only way to communicate required a face-to-face meeting or a seven-day postal wait time. Now, I'm not suggesting we start using snail mail or knocking on doors again. But we do need to get back to building relationships.

Luckily, this isn’t that hard. Of course it does require more patience, curiosity, and a true interest in helping other people. But the extra effort is more than justified because -- even though most junior sales professionals won’t believe it -- it actually scales. Relationships create compounding results for salespeople in the form of inbound leads, incoming calls, referrals, and repeat business, just like content creates compounding results for marketers in the form of monthly search traffic, growing social followings, bigger opt-in email lists and, ultimately, significantly more efficient permission-based funnels.  

To make it easier for salespeople to do this, I’ve taken some of those “how to win friends” lessons and baked them into email templates. While telephone and face-to-face meetings are the most effective ways to build relationships with people, both prospects and salespeople today seem to prefer email as the first touch. Therefore, email templates are the lingua franca of the modern SDR.

Without further ado, here are 28 approaches (along with customizable email templates) salespeople can use to build real relationships with prospects who are rapidly becoming immune to our current short-sighted email prospecting methods.

1) Congratulate them.

Do your research. There is more information available about prospects today than at any other time in the history of selling. Visit your prospect's website, search Google, set up alerts, view LinkedIn to dig into their professional dossier, stop by Facebook to learn about their kids’ or grandkids’ favorite sports, look into trigger events, and append all this information to your contact records.

Be creative with this approach. Figure out ways you can congratulate your prospects. Flattery works.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Congratulations on your recent round of funding.

What you are doing is going to impact the law profession in a major way.

I look forward to seeing how you'll deploy your new resources to do it even faster.

Regards,

[Your name]

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Here are three more congratulatory templates that garnered a 25% response rate.

2) Boost their mission.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Congratulations on your new role as VP Marketing. Based on your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you've done an amazing job developing your career at [company].

If there are ways I can help you get your message out to my network of [title of people they’re trying to reach], please connect me with the right people. I'm a fan and I want to help.

Do you have a PR or content person on your team?

Regards,

[Your name]

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Try this approach with CEOs. CEOs and business owners are usually the creators of their vision and the ones most involved with communicating it.

3) Provide immediate value.

Find a way to provide some value up front, even if it’s just your expertise.

Just be careful not to be too critical in your first email. Starting with a compliment softens the blow of any criticism.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Your website's design is absolutely brilliant. The visuals really enhance your message and the content compels action. I've forwarded it to a few of my contacts who I think could benefit from your services.

When I was looking at your site, though, I noticed a mistake that you've made re: search engine optimization. It's a relatively simple fix. Would you like me to write it up so that you can share it with your web team? If this is a priority, I can also get on a call.

Regards,

[Your name]

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Providing immediate value for free is something that software companies have mastered through freemium business models, creating some of the fastest growing businesses ever. Free feature-limited or usage-limited software offers value before any money changes hands.

If you’re a service provider, partner with a software company that has a freemium model. For example, if you’re an accountant, partner with Expensify to introduce free expense report tools. If you sell sales training services, recommend a product like HubSpot’s free email tracking tool. As long as you are the person introducing free value, prospects will appreciate it.  

4) Offer help.

Remember, your goal in the initial email is to simply get a response. With this in mind, your offer of immediate help might not be related to your service. In fact, it might even be related to another service.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Welcome to town. My family and I enjoyed a nice dinner at your new Sudbury location last month. I really enjoyed the scallops and risotto. I'll be back.

I drove by your restaurant last night fairly late (I play indoor soccer at night). I noticed that you were open, which is nice -- I'll be bringing the guys by for a beer after next week's practice. But, I thought you were closed at first glance. I saw a few people sitting at the bar, but the light in front of the restaurant was really dim. 

This isn't my area of expertise, but I know a good sign guy. Would you like an intro?

Regards,

[Your name]

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5) Compliment them.

You could give cash away to your prospects. That might get their attention. Or you can offer what this study says people appreciate just as much as cash -- a compliment.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the world.

I love your wit and humor. I find myself nodding in agreement with your advice as I'm laughing out loud.

Your article the other day with the three email templates really inspired me. I forwarded to a few of my clients. One of them has really been struggling to connect with key prospects and we've implemented your advice. A prospect they've been trying to reach for a year now responded within an hour.

Would you like to see how my client applied your advice?

Best,

[Your name]

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6) Build rapport using common interests. 

Warning: Don't be creepy. Salespeople of yesteryear could get away with walking into a buyer's office, noticing the photo of the prospect’s grandchildren, and remarking, “You have a beautiful family.” Today, the framed picture of decades past has become the digital photos on Facebook.

Salespeople should certainly incorporate Facebook into their research. But that doesn’t mean you should open with "How was your grandkids' soccer practice on Sunday?" That'll compel a prospect to issue a restraining order, not email you back. Instead, start with the safe stuff like common personal interests.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Was browsing through LinkedIn. Looks like you and I are both in [industry] and we're both snowboarding fans. Have you ever dreamed of having an industry conference at a ski resort? I have.  

Have you gotten out this year? I got out to Loon last month. The powder was amazing.

Regards,

[Your name]

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7) Talk to lower-level employees.

While there's lots of information online, nothing beats insight gleaned from someone who knows your buyer. This is especially critical if you sell to finance, IT, or other back-office professionals, since it’s difficult to inspect or observe how they do their jobs from an external vantage point.

The trick to this one is that you have to go into conversations with employees with the intention of gathering intelligence. Every company has customer-facing employees. Start with your prospect's salespeople. They will probably answer their phone and as peers they know and may empathize with your struggle. They might also have a vested interest in their company investing in your solution.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Your salespeople seem to be struggling with acquiring new clients according to an informal survey I did. [Name #1], [Name #2], and [Name #3] seem to all be struggling with acquiring new clients as you’ve grown the team. Specifically, they are struggling to initiate a dialogue with prospects like they used to.

Is it a priority for you to improve their ability to put new opportunities in the funnel?  

Regards,

[Your name] 

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Another great source of information is past employees. I've interviewed hundreds of people with one foot out the door. Usually, they're careful not to bash their current company when interviewing for a new one, for fear of giving the impression that they are an excuse-maker. But after they leave, they are a lot more willing to speak freely about the issues at their last company.

8) Talk to your prospect's customers.

Your prospect’s customers and partners are another great source of intelligence. Look at your prospect's case study page if they have one, or check out reviews about them online.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Two of your customers had excellent things to say about you: [Company #1] and [Company #2]. Your software has had a huge impact on the growth of their businesses.

How could I learn more about how your team pulls this off?

Regards,

[Your name] 

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Most likely, you'll find positive stuff. But, if you talk to a disgruntled or unsuccessful customer, use that information too.

9) Talk to your prospect's vendors.

Vendors are another resource to learn about a company. Trusted service providers are in a great position to refer you. Not only do they know how your prospect buys things -- they can make introductions.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Your commercial real estate broker, [name], suggested I reach out to you. Someone in your organization had told them conference room booking is a real challenge. Everything is always booked -- even when people aren't in the room.

This is an easy fix if you're interested in solving this problem once and for all. Interested?

Best,

[Your name]

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Make sure you get permission to use names when referencing vendors. The last thing you want to do is get your referral partner fired. Ask, "Would you mind if I email [Prospect] and say that you suggested we talked?" Then, you're free to write, "[Vendor] asked me to email you to see if I could help." Or just call and start off with "I was talking to [Vendor], and … "

10) Talk to friends (and strangers).

While not always good advice (especially for children), talking to strangers is a smart idea too. Whether they're friends, acquaintances, or folks on the fringe, talking to people outside your universe can lead to great connections to prospects.  

A quick story. My family and I moved to a new house in May. We've become good friends with neighbors down the street. The husband owns his own business that is way out of my wheelhouse: hydrokinetic energy production. Nonetheless, I asked him who his target VCs were. After a quick LinkedIn search, I noticed that a HubSpot partner I know knows the managing partner of one of my neighbor’s target VC firms.

A few emails later, the connection was made. While I have no experience with hydrokinetic energy production, that didn’t prevent me from making a valuable connection. Everyone you meet is like me: they know people who know people.

 

Hey [Prospect],

My friend, [name], told me that you’d be willing to meet up with me to discuss my business and see if we might work together.

I reviewed your website and am particularly interested in learning more about your [service].

Do you have time in the near future?  Here's a link to my calendar to make scheduling easier.

Regards,

[Your name]

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Make sure you make connections for your friends too. Givers gain.

11) Respond to content your prospects publish.

Pay attention to what your prospects are publishing online. They are sharing massive clues about their current initiatives that provide great openings for a dialogue.

Here's an email I wrote up for an SDR from RingCentral who asked for some advice:

 

Hey Jeetandra,

Your CEO posted an article about expanding globally which speaks highly of the work you're doing. Judging from a quick LinkedIn search, I can see you're the guy who is probably making that happen. Congrats on the success. I know it's hard to duplicate the success of the home office.

Usually, managing directors are involved with setting budgets and are under pressure from CFOs to minimize startup cost. I'm an expert at helping companies minimize these types of expenses.

I talk to people like you all day. Would you be interested in a checklist of ways to reduce expenses?

Regards,

[Your name]

www.ringcentral.com

Global Office Consultant

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12) Send your company's content.

For every title or persona that can influence your sale, have content on hand that addresses their specific challenges.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Your blog article about [topic] was excellent. Your ebook on the topic was even better. The part about [section] was amazing because [reason].

But, I had to click around your website quite a bit to find the ebook. Have you ever thought about putting a call to action on the blog post that encourages visitors to download your whitepaper on the same subject?

Here's an article on how and why to do this: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/types-ctas-blog

Let me know what you think,

[Your name]

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13) Send other people's content.

Don’t only send your content. Prospects will be less suspect of your intentions if you send other people’s or other companies' content that could be helpful for their situation.

 

Hey [Prospect],

Congrats on closing your seed funding. That means you're probably starting to think about how you'll raise your A round.

Other founders report that it's 100x easier to raise money if they've already figured out how to profitably acquire customers.

I've found that David Skok's articles on unit economics are an amazing resource to help with that.

Here's one: http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

Have you read them?

Regards,

[Your name] 

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14) Publish original content.

For the last few years, I've regularly asked my eight year old son, "How do you get better at things?" Without hesitation, he now says "practice." Not every salesperson is a natural writer, but I'd highly recommend they all start practicing.

Why should salespeople write? Prospects willingly talk to critical-thinking, problem-solving, effective salespeople if they have experience relevant to the prospect's world. So, write about your daily experiences helping prospects. Share your wisdom. 

While publishing content to your company website is the smartest channel for your organization, it's only good for you if you're able to track which of your prospects reads your posts. If you don't have marketing automation software in place that tells you when your prospects are visiting your website, publish to LinkedIn Pulse instead. As long as your 1st and 2nd degree network consists of prospects, there is a chance they'll read what you post.

When they like, comment on, or share something you wrote, start a dialogue by using a variation on the template below:

 

[Prospect],

Yesterday, you liked my article on Linkedin Pulse. What did you like about it?

[Your name]

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The really great thing about content is that it keeps on talking with prospects even when you're sleeping, exercising, or eating. It works around the clock for you. Every other prospecting method is ephemeral (especially email). Imagine what salespeople could do if we combined the staying power of relationships with the lasting power of content.  

15) Monitor who views your LinkedIn profile. 

Even if you're not publishing much, monitor who visits your profile, and steal the following template from Rick Roberge:

 

[Prospect],

Looks like you visited my LinkedIn profile the other day. Did I do something wrong?

[Your name]

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If you're doing research before picking up the phone, you're probably looking at your prospects' LinkedIn profiles anyways. Click around and view a bunch of their employees' profiles. Connect with them and use any of the templates in this article to start a conversation. Lower-level and customer-facing employees are a bit more likely to accept your connection, respond to you, or just check out your profile in return. As soon as they do, use the line above.

16) Put their name in lights.

If you are publishing content, ask for feedback on your drafts. You can also ask prospects for quotes to add to your article.

 

[Prospect],

Thanks for connecting with me on LinkedIn. From looking at your impressive career advancement from salesperson to sales director in just five years, I'm guessing you have some really valuable advice.

I read a few of your testimonials and I noticed that many of them said you put people first. Many of them said that you always drop what you're doing to listen to the concerns and ideas of your front line salespeople.

Would you be willing to contribute to an article I'm writing on that subject?

Regards,

[Your name]

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17) Ask for advice.

Most people like to give advice. Asking for advice appeals to their ego. (See the "esteem stage" of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In the age of social media, many of us get stuck at the esteem stage on our path towards "self-actualization.")

Psychology 101 aside, asking for advice is a hard request for most of us to resist.

 

[Prospect],

From your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you've been working in aerospace for 20 years. I'm guessing you've been involved in many engineering advancements over the years.

I'm only two years into the aerospace industry. So, I lack some of the historical context I imagine you have.

I'm working on a new product for creep-feed grinding of titanium aerospace blades. If I confidentially shared some of my findings, would you be willing to give me feedback?

Regards,

[Your name] 

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P.S. I have a patent in my name for a method of creep-feed grinding of titanium aerospace blades. (Just in case you want to appeal to my ego.) 

18) Ask for a recommendation.

People also like to help other people, if it's not too difficult. Most gentleman still hold the door for ladies. (My grandfather -- a member of the Greatest Generation -- taught me this lesson when I was very young.) I still do it today for women (and men, in case you're about to ding me for not being progressive enough). It takes an extra second to hold the door. It's not that big a deal. But, it feels right.

The same logic applies when asking for recommendations. If you or your company are in the market for a service, make it a habit to ask your prospects for recommendations. It's another excuse to connect with people, and helping you will make them feel good.

 

[Prospect],

A colleague of mine is investigating solutions for predictive lead scoring. I've been following you online for a bit.

As an expert at sales, I'm wondering if you have any experience with any platforms or know anyone that does?  

[Your name]

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Make your request easy to oblige. Also, don’t take this approach this unless you’re really looking for a recommendation. Be genuine. 

19) Offer an introduction. 

I recently posted a request for introductions on LinkedIn. Both Kim Cole and Carole Mahoney offered fantastic introductions in messages like the one below. Thanks, Kim and Carole.

 

[Prospect],

On LinkedIn, you posted a request for introductions to salespeople who successfully practice social selling. 

I have a few that I could recommend. Would you like an introduction over email?

[Your name]

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There are now 59 comments on that thread. Clearly, asking for introductions is also an effective method of connecting.

20) Seek referrals.

Everyone with a quota should be part of a networking group. If you sell to SMBs, join a BNI group. If you sell to bigger companies, join a group (or start one) of professionals who sell to your target market.

Asking people for referrals is a smart first interaction. Try reaching out to other sales professionals like this.

 

[Referral partner],

It looks like we both sell to CIOs in the Boston area. I meet with a handful of successful salespeople every week to talk about accounts, and we help each other with introductions to prospects. In some months, my networking group books me more meetings than my SDR.

Would you be interested in meeting for coffee to talk about how we might be able to help each other?

[Your name]

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21) Reference a common connection.

Once you’ve developed trusting relationships with other professionals, ask them if it’s okay to drop their name when connecting with their contacts. You might even ask them for a list of people that they recommend you reach out to.

 

[Prospect],

Our mutual contact, [referral partner], and I were having a conversation the other day about experts at [topic]. You were the person who came to their mind immediately.  

I’m writing an article about [topic]. Would you be willing to review it?

[Your name]

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22) Respond to social media posts.

Salespeople should use social media monitoring to watch what their prospects are saying online. Identifying opportunities for engagement with your right-fit prospects is easy with the right technology. 

 

[Prospect],

Your article about your marketing program was very well-written. Great job ensuring that your sponsorship dollars reached your target market.

I left a comment on the article as it reminded me of [company X's] program. Do you see the similarities?

[Your name] 

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23) Run a custom analysis.

Depending on what you sell, it might be difficult for you to evaluate your prospect's situation. But, if you can evaluate it, do so and send them the results.

 

[Prospect],

I used some software to evaluate the search rankings of the top 50 B2B accounting firms in the Boston area. Although your firm ranks in the top 25 according to the Business Journal, your search rankings are worse than the top 40.

Would you like to view the report?

[Your name]

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Chances are you don't sell marketing services. If you do, steal this approach. If you don't, try to find something you can analyze that your ideal buyer will care about.

24) Provide an insight.

According to Mike Schultz, author of Insight Selling, “Educating buyers not only shares the seller's expertise, but also demonstrates the seller's willingness to collaborate with the buyer.” 

 

[Prospect],

Looks like you started a blog, but have stopped publishing. Often times, companies stop prioritizing blogging when results don’t come immediately.

But did you know that companies that blog regularly generate 67% more leads than those that don’t?

[Your name]

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25) Ask them what they want to learn from peers.

Marketers use surveys as ways to gather proprietary data. It seems like I see a new one every week. They’re clearly getting respondents.

Salespeople should borrow this playbook. Engaging prospects in the design of the survey will ensure the results are interesting for the ideal buyer profile. This is also a perfect excuse to reach out, which can initiate a dialogue.

 

[Prospect],

You look like you have an impressive amount of experience doing X. I'm designing a survey and will be asking 100 people with similar experiences in [role] and [industry] about their thoughts on Y.

If you had the opportunity to ask any question of 100 peers, what would you ask? 

[Your name]

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26) Invite them to participate in market research.

Once a sales and/or marketing team creates a survey, salespeople can ask prospects to take it.  

 

[Prospect],

Thank you for your assistance in designing this survey. Will you take the survey now that it's ready? It's five questions long and should take you five minutes.

As soon as we have 100 respondents, I'll send you the preliminary results.

[Your name]

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The great part about surveys is that you can ask tough questions about challenges and goals. It's hard to do that on a phone call right away.

Don’t forget to sync your survey software with your CRM and marketing automation software so you can see the responses and use them to customize your future sales and marketing touches to each contact’s context.

27) Get their opinion.

Ask your prospects what they think about something. Many people can’t resist sharing their opinion. 

 

[Prospect],

Looks like your marketing efforts support a pretty big sales team.

At HubSpot, we recently completed a survey of B2B buyers. We asked them to give one word that best describes salespeople. The most popular answer by far was "pushy."

Do you agree or disagree with this? Do you think your buyers think your salespeople are too pushy? Do you think this reduces the effectiveness of your marketing?

Regards,

[Your name]

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28) Ask them if they want access to market research.

Once you’ve completed market research, use it in your prospecting. Start by asking if they are interested in reviewing it.

 

[Prospect],

Your quarterly report shows an impressive growth rate, especially at your scale.

Fast growth companies like yours usually dedicate significant resources towards recruiting. We have some market research that shows how companies allocate resources to different parts of the recruiting process.

Would you be interested in seeing the report, so you can benchmark yourself?

Regards,

[Your name]

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11 Guidelines to Create Response-Worthy Sales Email Templates

These templates use a relatively simple set of guidelines. As you implement the approaches shared above, use these guidelines to customize your templates:

  1. Start messages with something about the prospect.
  2. Use "you" whenever possible. Use “I” and “We” sparingly.
  3. Put the value proposition away. Share it only when it aligns with the prospect’s needs.
  4. Don’t try to book a phone call in your initial email. Only “in-market” prospects will respond to that call to action.
  5. Ask open-ended questions or none at all. Many prospects have become desensitized to calls to action, but they are often pleasantly surprised by genuine attempts at personal connection and offers of help.
  6. The goal is to get a response -- not to advance the sale or sort the interested from the uninterested. You can think about these aims once you get a response.
  7. If including a request, make it a very simple one to oblige that has a high chance of appealing to the buyer’s self-interest.
  8. Keep it short. Three to seven sentences max.
  9. End with a question if it makes sense, but don’t force an off-topic one. For example, if you compliment someone, they’ll be likely to respond with a “thank you.” If you embrace the goal of simply getting a response, mission accomplished.
  10. Before you send an email in the first place, consider picking up the phone instead. All of these approaches will work on the phone too. If you do send an email, use an email open alert system and call the prospect when they’re reading your email. This will maximize your connect rate.
  11. More cowbell

I am not delusional enough to believe that salespeople will all of the sudden stop sending horribly self-centered, blast-you-with-my-value-prop, ask-me-to-marry-you-on-the-first-date prospecting emails. But in sharing these alternative approaches, I hope to get us that much closer to the end of this dangerous and ultimately ineffective practice.

If your response rates are dwindling, think twice before you mass blast another 1,000 emails. Maybe use that time to start one relationship based on trust, courtesy, and a genuine interest in seeing that person succeed instead. I guarantee it will pay off in the long run.

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Topics: Sales Emails

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