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8 Things Every Sales Prospecting Email Must Include [Checklist]

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How many prospects respond the first time you email them? One percent? Five percent?

The problem usually isn’t your recipients -- it’s your emails. Most outreach emails are, to be frank, pretty crappy. They’re boring, lengthy, unhelpful, and generic. Even worse, they’re far too focused on selling to the prospect instead of helping them.

Want people to reply? Write more effective warm emails. To help you, we’ve outlined the eight essential things every outreach email should include.

Once yours fulfill these requirements, you’ll be on your way to higher response rates.

Anatomy of an Effective Sales Prospecting Email

1) A Personalized Salutation

Nothing makes it more obvious that you’re spraying and praying than a generic opener. Rather than starting with “Hi there,” “Hello,” or the cringe-worthy “Dear Sir/Madam,” address your prospect by name. (And don’t forget to double-check the spelling.)

2) An Engaging First Line

“Hi, my name is Dwight Schrute, and I work at Dunder Mifflin … ”

It doesn’t matter what comes next: The buyer has already stopped reading. Your opening line should draw them in, not put them to sleep.

3) A Reason for Reaching Out

You’re not dropping by just to say hi -- that would be a waste of both their time and yours.

It should be immediately apparent why you’re contacting your prospect, whether you’re passing along a relevant resource, congratulating them on a recent announcement, asking for their opinion on an article, giving them advice on a challenge they’re likely struggling with, or introducing yourself as a mutual connection.

4) A Reason for Reaching Out Now

Your prospect’s situation is always changing, so make sure you answer, “Why now?”

For instance, if you’re sending her an ebook on clinical trial transparency, you might say, “I noticed your company is starting several new clinical trials soon, so I thought you might be interested in this ebook about achieving transparency.”

5) A Value Add

Aim to add value to your prospect at every stage of the buyer's journey, starting with the first email. After all, if your email doesn’t somehow improve her life, she has no reason to continue the conversation.

There are number of potential ways to help: Give relevant advice, provide helpful content, offer to make an introduction to someone they’d benefit from knowing, and so on.

6) A Reason to Trust You

Establishing credibility is crucial. If you don’t seem trustworthy, it doesn’t matter how compelling your message is: The buyer won’t usually respond.

You can instantly boost their confidence by doing your research and writing like a real person, not a marketing brochure. (That means skipping the jargon and overly formal tone.)

And any time you find yourself selling, press the “Delete” key. The first email should cement your status as a trusted advisor -- not make you seem like just another salesperson. Focus on helping your prospect rather than pushing your product. 

7) A Reference to Your Results

To spark your prospect’s interest and gain more credibility at the same time, mention your results.

There’s a couple ways to do so. Option one is explaining how you help similar customers.

For example, you might write,

“We help paper supply companies like Dunder Mifflin boost employee engagement by redesigning their internal policies.”

Option two is providing your typical results, like so:

“Our clients see their employee attrition rate drop by an average of 60%, decreasing their budget for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding by hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

8) A Clear, Specific Call-to-Action

If you let buyers drive the metaphorical car, chances are, you’d sit in the driveway forever. Everyone’s busy -- to get a response, you’ll need to provide a simple, straightforward next step.

Imagine you’re asking for your prospect’s feedback on an article. Check out these three potential CTAs:

Bad: “Take a look at this post.”

Better: “Take a look at this post and let me know your thoughts.”

Best: “This post on [business challenge] seems like it could be relevant. Have you tried strategy #4?”

Bonus Tip #1: A Unique Sign-Off

Signing off with “best” or “thank you” won’t lose you any prospects, but it won’t make your email more memorable either. Why not take every opportunity to differentiate yourself from the other salespeople contacting your prospect?

A little research can help you find the perfect personalized sign-off. Perhaps the buyer tweeted about the Olympics -- you could end your message with:

By the way, I’m glued to the Olympics as well -- let’s hope the soccer team does well tonight!

John Doe

If you wanted to throw in some humor, you could write instead:

Looking forward to a partnership as successful as the U.S. gymnastics team,

John Doe

Bonus Tip #2: A Well-Crafted Email Signature

A poorly- designed email signature might not be a dealbreaker, but anything too flashy or over-the-top will make prospects question your professionalism.An attractive, well-designed one, on the other hand, gives you one more chance to engage with prospects and strengthen your personal brand.

Include your name, logo, phone number, and clickable icons for your most active social media accounts.

Also, consider strategically linking to a page on your site. This link will change depending on what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you’re trying to leverage social proof, for example, link to your testimonials or case studies. But if you want prospects to learn more about your product, link to your features page or an explainer video.

(By the way, you can whip up an awesome email signature in less than five minutes with HubSpot’s free email signature generator.)

Is there anything you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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