Hi. My name is Michael Pici, and I thought I'd share some content around writing emails in order to ...
Okay, I'll stop right there. There’s a good chance your eyes have already glazed over. That’s why it’s shocking salespeople actually use this structure when they’re reaching out to new prospects.
There's a single purpose behind every sales email, whether it's a prospecting email, follow-up email, or a breakup email: Get a response. This five-part sales email template will show you how to write sales emails prospects actually want to respond to.
How to Write a Sales Email People Want To Respond To
Here’s the basic formula for a great sales email. I’ll dive into each part in detail below.
- Personalized subject line
- Prospect's name
- Opening line about the prospect
- Thought-provoking or unexpected question
- Well-crafted email signature
How to Do Effective Research for a Sales Email
Would you run a marathon without training beforehand? Of course not. You might save time, but your results will be horrible.
The same concept applies to writing sales emails. If you don’t do any prep work, there’s almost no chance your message will be relevant to the buyer’s situation -- and therefore worthy of a reply.
Take five to 10 minutes to research your prospect and dig up pertinent details. I recommend searching their name on Google, browsing their social media profiles, and checking out their company website.
Along the way, find a solid reason to contact them. Can you reference a recent trigger event? Do you have any mutual connections? What can you infer from the pages they visited on your site, if applicable?
This context allows you to write a personalized, timely email.
How to Write a Sales Email Subject Line
Your prospect will use the subject line of your sales email to decide whether to read it, so you can’t get away with a throwaway one.
The most successful email subject lines foreshadow the value you’ll provide in the email itself. If the buyer believes they’ll gain insight, competitive intelligence, or resources from reading your message, they’re guaranteed to open it.
Examples of Sales Email Subject Lines
- [Prospect name], question for you re: [topic]
- [Mutual connection] suggested I say hi
- Strategies for achieving [result they want]
- How are you [leveraging, responding to] [recent trigger event]?
- Question about [prospect’s goal]
- Just read your post on [topic], and …
- Have you considered [idea or strategy]?
Words to Avoid in Your Sales Email Subject Line
Avoid “salesy” words, which will make your message look like a promotional mass marketing email rather than a tailored, one-off email.
How to Craft a Sales Email Opening Line
You’ve gotten over the first hurdle: Getting your prospect to open your email. But the second hurtle -- prompting them to reply -- is just as important and even more difficult.
Begin by talking about yourself, your company, or your offering, and they won’t even read the second line. The same is true for generic statements that could apply to anyone.
The Worst Sales Email Opening Lines
- “Hi, my name is … ”
- “I was looking at your website, and … ”
- “Are you interested in a solution for X?”
- “You don’t know me but … ”
- “Does your company have a solution for [product type]?”
- “Did you know you could do X with [rep’s product]?”
The Best Sales Email Opening Lines
To catch your prospect’s attention and show them you’ve done your homework, try one of these subject lines instead.
- “Congratulations on [recent company announcement] -- that’s exciting considering [reason announcement is notable].”
- “I read your [blog post, tweet, LinkedIn comment] about experiencing [X].”
- “[Mutual connection] mentioned … ”
How to Write a Sales Email Template
Use the main portion of your sales email to add value and demonstrate your expertise. The worst thing you can do is launch into your sales pitch -- it’s far too early in the conversation to start hard selling.
Instead, ask a thought-provoking or unexpected question to get the buyer’s mental gears turning and give them a powerful incentive to respond.
Example Sales Email Questions to Ask Prospects
- “In light of [fact or statistic], what’s your strategy for [business area]?”
- “Are you interested in learning how [company in prospect’s space] achieved [X results] by [doing Y]?”
- “Have you considered making [X change]?”
- “Do you know how [new legislation, industry change] affects you?”
- “How do you plan on responding to [new legislation, industry change, competitive move]?”
- “I’ve put together a report on your company’s [business area, strategy, potential opportunities in X]. Would you like to see it?”
- “Do you have any unanswered questions about [topic]?”
- “Was doing X your idea?”
If possible, end your sales email there. The ideal length is five sentences (or less) -- many prospects check their inboxes on their phones, meaning a long email will be visually overwhelming. Plus, the shorter your message is, the easier it will be for them to reply.
How to End a Sales Email
Unfortunately, the average email signature seems designed to make your eyes bleed. An email signature can enhance your credibility, give your prospect a chance to learn more about you, and help you promote your latest blog post or company case study -- but only if it’s well-designed.
The most important rule to go by: Your email signature shouldn’t be a distraction.
Elements of a Good Email Signature
- Short: You should be able to see the entire signature without scrolling.
- Simple: Use plain text and neutral colors.
- Strategic: Include your contact information, links to your most active social profiles, and optionally, a recent blog post, customer story or testimonial, product or company award, or upcoming event you’re attending. Make sure these details are always up-to-date.
I first presented these lessons in an Intelligent.ly class for sales reps, small business owners, and marketers. At the end, they shared what they saw as the most valuable takeaways. We adapted those insights into a SlideShare, which you can check out below.
- Never send a sales email without a reason without a reason why you're reaching out (a good one). Tweet This
- Before writing a sales email, do your research on blogs, trigger events, website, social, and Google. Tweet This
- Your #1 goal = getting a response. Tweet This
- Start your email with something about them, not you. Tweet This
- End your email with a question about the prospect's goals. Tweet This
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.