4 Email Prospecting Techniques the Best Salespeople Use

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Michael Pici
Michael Pici



Email can be an extraordinarily effective prospecting tool. Most prospects check their inboxes throughout the day, so you’re engaging them where they’re already spending time.

Another benefit to emails: If you craft them strategically, buyers should only need a minute or two to read and respond. They can quickly move on to other work.

However, no matter how many advantages this prospecting channel has, your results will always reflect your technique. You can’t simply blast prospects with generic, salesy messages and expect your calendar to fill up with meetings.

For more tips on email prospecting, check out the Get Sh*t Done Show -- a video series by salespeople, for salespeople.

If you want high response rates, implement the following four email prospecting techniques the most successful salespeople use.

4 Successful Outreach Email Techniques

1) Include a Visual

Some of the most successful messages my salespeople send include a GIF, meme, or picture. There are three reasons:

  1. A visual says a thousand words. Emphasizing or reinforcing your message with a visual usually means you can write less -- and brevity has a big impact on your response rate.
  2. A visual is eye-catching. You’ll simultaneously grab your prospect’s attention and differentiate your email from the all-text emails in their inbox.
  3. A visual humanizes you. The buyer will see you as a regular person rather than a personality-less sales robot.

Wondering how to incorporate visuals into your email templates? Try these ideas:

  • Reference a popular movie quote or plotline and add a visual of the character or appropriate scene.
  • Tie in your content to a well-known pop culture phenomenon and use a relevant meme.
  • Find a GIF or picture your prospect will like based on their social media posts.

Of course, visuals aren’t appropriate for every industry or buyer persona. If you’re reaching out to the senior executive of a financial company, you might want to send a traditional email. If you’re contacting a marketing manager who frequently tweets his favorite GIFs, on the other hand, using a GIF will earn you major points.

2) Measure Results -- and Iterate Accordingly

I recently had lunch with someone who’d just started her first sales job at a local startup.

“Some of my prospecting emails do really well, but some flop,” she said. “Do you have any suggestions?”

When I asked what her high-performing and low-performing templates had in common, the salesperson admitted she didn’t know.

Tracking open and response rates is a good first step. However, you can’t improve your results if you don’t act on this data. This salesperson -- and every other sales professional using email to prospect -- needs to periodically and systematically review her emails and ask:

  • What do my highest- and lowest-performing email subject lines have in common?
  • What are the average lengths of my highest- and lowest-performing emails, respectively?
  • What are their various CTAs?
  • Am I having more success with some buyer personas than others?
  • Am I using specific language across my highest-performing emails? My lowest?

Once you know what’s working -- and what’s turning prospects off -- adapt your emails appropriately.

3) Make It Easy on Prospects

The easier it is for your prospects to read and reply to your emails, the likelier they are to do so. This concept seems obvious, but I frequently see prospecting messages that are:

  • Excessively long
  • Confusing
  • Open-ended

There’s a simple three-step prescription.

First, cap your emails at six sentences. You shouldn’t require any more if you’re sticking to one concept per message.

Second, focus your email. Provide a single tip or describe a single concept and ask one question or suggest one action step. This ensures your message doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the buyer.

Third, make the next step extremely clear. Should the prospect answer your question? Book a meeting on your calendar? An explicit direction helps them act quickly and effortlessly.

4) Find Something Noteworthy to Comment On

Many salespeople leverage commonalities with their prospects to build rapport. While this technique can be effective, it’s also relatively transparent. Some buyers don't want to talk about their favorite basketball team or home state, since these topics are irrelevant to the deal.

I suggest instead looking for a notable achievement, skill, project, or other detail along these lines. Praise your prospect or ask a related question. Not only will you boost their ego, but you’ll show them you’ve done your research while staying professional.

It can also sound less creepy to say, “I saw the recording of your autonomous cars presentation. What are your thoughts on Tesla’s strategy?” than, “I’m also a huge fan of the wings at Petey’s BBQ!”

Your prospects’ LinkedIn profiles are a valuable source of this type of detail. You may also find great conversation starters on their blogs, personal websites, company “About” pages, external bios, and/or social media pages.

Use these four email prospecting techniques, and watch your response rates skyrocket.

Are there any great strategies you rely on? Let me know in the comments!

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