You know what tips buyers off that the email they're reading is a sales pitch?
"Hi, my name is Jane Doe, and I'm a sales rep at Company."
Yup. That'll do it.
You should never actively hide the fact that you're a salesperson from buyers, but positioning yourself as a consultant, business expert, or interested party in the opening line will do you justice and keep the prospect reading.
If you're struggling to think of alternatives to the standard opening line, take one of these for a spin and see how they perform for you.
Before you get started with effective email opening sentences, make sure your email greeting is compelling and memorable, too. Below are a couple of alternatives to "Dear Ms./Mr." that won't make recipients think they're receiving an automated email template:
This is my go-to email greeting to convey friendliness and personability. It's acceptable to reach out for the first time with someone's first name -- but make sure you spell their first name correctly by double-checking their social profiles.
If you're sending out a mass email, or if you've already corresponded with the contact before, this friendly greeting can be a nice way to open up the lines of communication.
This greeting is a little more formal, but is still a pleasant, casual option to start an email. Double-check the time zone the contact is in -- it may not be the same time of day where they live.
Sometimes it's fun to acknowledge the day of the week in an email greeting. Make sure you tie in specifics in the follow-up line to make it seem authentic. For example, if you start your email with "Happy Friday, Emma," follow up with, "I hope you've had a great week," or "Any fun weekend plans?"
There's nothing quite like a question to get the prospect talking. HubSpot sales director Michael Pici recommends using questions in sales emails to spark the prospect's interest and get them thinking about the current state of affairs.
This one in particular can help the salesperson get a sense of the prospect's priorities and pain points. If you've struck on a tricky area, you're in.
Maybe you've learned the prospect is tackling a business problem that your offering can solve. Leading with a thought-provoking statistic that relates to their issue and paves the way to your solution will work well with data-driven types.
Keeping in mind that the goal of an initial sales email is to start a conversation -- not to close a deal -- kicking off your message with a question can be extremely compelling.
This one comes to you courtesy of InsideSales.com. A core sales skill is the ability to create a compelling future state, and painting a picture of how things could be from the very first interaction gets the prospect thinking about alternatives to the status quo. For maximum impact, use a concrete benefit from a customer case study, such as "increase revenue by 50%" or "reduce costs by 70%."
Did your prospect visit your LinkedIn profile, favorite one of your tweets, or interact with you in some other way on social media? Reach out and ask what prompted their action. If you're worried this opening line might come across a bit creepy, try, "I noticed you viewed my LinkedIn profile. What brought you by? Did I do something?" Sometimes the simplest emails are the most effective.
The fastest way to get someone's attention? Ask them how you can make their life better -- no strings attached. You'll get them thinking about what they need, and then you can share the benefits your company can offer.
Trigger events are incredibly effective sales openings if used correctly. Using Google alerts, track the company and keep an eye out for any major moves. If you catch wind of a major announcement, pounce on the opportunity to send an email connecting the event to your product or service.
Did the prospect recently get promoted or switch companies? This is a perfect time to reach out and offer your help. They'll be excited about their new adventure, so starting off with a hearty "congratulations" will start your relationship off on a positive note.
Help the buyer take advantage of their company's latest move. Not only will you earn instant credibility, you'll learn valuable details about their situation and objections in the process of guiding them.
Acknowledge their competitor briefly, and then ask how their company plans to respond. To show you've already been considering how to keep them on top, share a few top ideas of your own -- including how your solution can help.
Everybody loves to receive a (genuine) compliment. This opening line not only starts a conversation about a topic the buyer is interested in, it shows you've done your research. As a result, the prospect will take your ask more seriously.
Did you see this person speak at a conference, panel, or webinar? Strike up a conversation about their presentation, and probe into any pain points they revealed.
Maybe your prospect maintains an excellent blog, or manages a consistently over-performing division. Again, a genuine compliment never hurts. By making it about them instead of you, you engage them and invite their trust.
This might seem like bad form in a sales email; after all, asking for something before you've provided any value is generally a no-no. But in the case of advice, it's a bit different. As HubSpot VP of Sales Pete Caputa points out, "Most people like to give advice. Asking for advice appeals to their ego, [and] is a hard request for most of us to resist." Just make sure your request is genuine, or risk angering your prospect.
A little flattery will get you everywhere -- and hopefully get you another call. Recall their area of expertise and share a relevant piece of content, announcement, or industry event and ask for their thoughts on the matter.
Use this one if you and your prospect share a connection, but the person hasn't explicitly referred you. This line helps you benefit from their social proof without misconstruing your relationship to the buyer.
What's the first thing you do before you try out a new restaurant? If you're like the rest of us, you probably check out the Yelp reviews. Social proof is a powerful force, and you should take advantage of if you can. The closer your prospect is with your mutual connection the better, since some of the trust they have in that person will inevitably transfer to you.
Build rapport by mentioning something you and the buyer have in common. We're psychologically conditioned to trust people who seem like us, so this line makes them more likely to keep reading.
Go beyond, "I see you went to [X college]. That's so interesting!" The creator of the Your SalesMBA™ training program, Jeff Hoffman, recommends salespeople ask prospects about something they've said instead of making an arbitrary statement about what they've done. It's a more genuine approach to getting to know your prospect and leads to a more interesting conversation.
If the buyer has been grappling with a problem, they'll welcome any and all advice on how to solve it. This opening line captures their attention right off the bat.
If you can add value from the very first touch, the buyer knows you won't waste their time. Find an interesting blog post, ebook, or report to share with your prospect and get their thoughts on a specific area that pertains to your offering.
As Jeff Hoffman puts it, "Prospects respond more positively to curiosity than credibility. Every sales rep strives to portray themselves as an expert, but not many take on the role of a curious student."
Buyers love to talk about themselves and what they're doing. If you ask an insightful question about a project they're working on or the division they oversee, odds are, they'll be happy to answer. And this opens the door to more discovery questions, which could eventually lead to your product or service as the answer.
Here's an example of what this opening line looks like in practice from Mike McCormick:
"I don’t know how you feel about walking on a chilly dawn beside a stream with scrappy trout you can see, but to me, that’s a pretty good definition of perfect."
According to copywriter Ryan McGrath, this approach has two main merits: It's empathetic yet doesn't presume what the prospect is feeling. This way, you won't come off as overly pushy or dismissive. The prospect can easily say, "Truthfully, I don't really care about that" without feeling guilty, and the salesperson can disqualify and move to the next opportunity.
Buyers don't have a lot of time, and some might appreciate a direct approach. However, instead of stating your name and company, pull out your value proposition instead. This makes your email relevant to your prospect from the start.
By leading with an impressive statistic, you'll immediately grab the prospect's attention. Want to go the extra mile? Pull this stat from a recent case study and link to it in the email.
To learn more about sales email best practices, check out our list of "thank you in advance" alternatives next.