Emailing a prospect for the first time can be a little scary.
Getting off on the right foot and providing value are both critical for success … but these things are easier said than done.
So what should you be writing to pique a prospect’s interest? You’re no doubt careful to avoid phrases that kill an introductory email ("Hi my name is X and I work at Y"), but which ones spark a conversation?
Below are 20 phrases to include in your introductory email that create a connection with your prospect.
Wondering what not to say? These are the phrases to avoid in prospecting emails.
1) “After researching your business … ”
Alerting the prospect that you’ve spent time researching their business sparks their interest and improves your credibility right off the bat.
2) “Hi [name],”
My colleague recently received an email that started with, “Dear [[contact first name]].” Needless to say, she didn’t respond. Including the recipient's name in your email -- and double-checking to make sure the personalization tokens worked -- is a great way to grab their attention early, and make it clear that this email is specifically meant for them.
3) “It looks like you’re attempting to do [X]. Is that correct?”
Asking about changes you’ve noticed sparks a meaningful conversation about the prospect’s goals and overarching strategy. For example, did the prospect recently unveil a blog redesign? Has their company posted a new position on the job board? Ask about the shift, and how it figures into the company’s plan.
4) “Why did you decide to download our resource?”
When an inbound lead downloads a piece of content, “Why?” is a natural question. Asking “Why?” allows the prospect to explain the problem they are attempting to solve. Armed with this information, the rep can better help the prospect and provide value.
5) “What’s your top priority right now?”
Identifying the prospect’s top priority provides you the opportunity to dig deeper into that goal. With better knowledge of the prospect’s most pressing priorities, you can showcase the value of your product in a way that resonates with their struggles and aligns with their goals.
6) “How can I help?”
The best sales reps today adhere to ABH -- Always Be Helping -- instead of ABC. In a crowd of pushy, self-centered salespeople, a rep who strives to serve first is refreshing. Include this phrase in your email to set it apart from the rest.
7) “I really enjoyed … ”
According to Professor Norihiro Sadato, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money.” Not only does a compliment improve a prospect’s mood, but it is likely to elicit a response when included in a sales email. The more specific, the better.
8) “I read what you wrote/shared/commented on on social media and was wondering … ”
Asking a thoughtful question about a topic the prospect is interested in is an easy way to spark a conversation. If a prospect is writing, posting about, or commenting on a given topic on social media, they’re likely looking to discuss it further.
9) “I’m curious to get your thoughts on … ”
Presenting a prospect with clear next steps keeps the conversation moving forward. With an introductory email, your ask should be small, such as reading a blog post and sharing their thoughts, or taking a few minutes to answer a question.
10) “Have you ever thought about doing X?”
Instead of giving orders, try piquing the prospect’s interest and asking a question around what they’re hoping to achieve. There is more than one way to solve a problem. And as a sales rep, you can present options the prospect might not be aware of.
Sales reps should always strive to give more than they receive. Providing a quick strategy tip or insight can get the conversation flowing and immediately boosts the rep’s credibility.
11) “I have an idea about … ”
Different phrase, same idea. Who doesn’t love free advice? This is an easy way to engage the prospect in a meaningful conversation about a hot topic.
12) “Congratulations on … ”
Promotions and job changes are some of the most valuable trigger events for salespeople. Congratulating your prospect on accepting a new role or moving to a different company can quickly turn into a sales conversation if you play your cards right.
13) “For more information, check out… ”
Including links to relevant blog posts or research reports at the end of your email makes it easy for the prospect to discover more information on potential solutions to their specific problems, and positions you as someone who wants to help.
14) “[Mutual Connection] mentioned me to that … ”
According to Sales Benchmark Index, you’re 4.2 times more likely to get an appointment if you share a personal connection with a prospect. By referencing someone you both know you can improve the likelihood of a response, and ultimately spark a meaningful conversation.
15) “How do you know [mutual connection]?”
Similar to the phrase above, referencing a mutual connection can be very beneficial in starting up an exchange. A shared connection helps you build credibility, and gives you a natural “in.”
16) “Did you know that … ?”
By sharing interesting data with a prospect, the rep can position themselves as a source of valuable information. And if the data sheds light on a problem the prospect is struggling with? You’ve struck gold.
17) “What did you think of … ?”
By asking a potential buyer’s thoughts about a recent industry event or news, you’re not only starting a conversation with the prospect, but you’re also gathering vital information in regards to where they stand on certain issues.
18) "I can help you with ... "
There's no better way to capture a prospect's attention than to make their lives easier. Of course, don't just say you can -- demonstrate what you'll do to help.
19) "Will you be attending [event]?"
If you're attending an industry event or conference, do some scoping beforehand to see if any attendees fit your buyer personas. Attending the same events gives you an automatic leg up when building credibility with your buyers.
20) "I saw you speak at ... "
Everyone likes to be complimented, but generic compliments aren't that compelling. If you've seen your prospect speak at an event, bring it up and stand out from the crowd.
While every prospect is going to respond differently to your email, certain phrases increase the chances that your message will hit home and elicit a response. Instead of worrying about messing the email up, try focusing on making it great. These phrases (and these power words) can help.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.