Each day, we’re inundated with emails. Newsletters we’ve subscribed to, questions from clients, the odd Buzzfeed quiz from your co-worker, and of course, sales emails.
Ah, the dreaded sales email – modestly intriguing at best, invasive at worst, and usually not something you feel like reading, let alone responding to.
But email is a necessary and incredibly useful sales tool for different stages of the pipeline, from prospecting and following up to lead nurturing and client retention. It’s all about how you use it.
Given how valuable sales emails can be, it’s astonishing how many sales reps still use the same tired, in-your-face, borderline obnoxious format. So before we get into how to write a great sales email, it’s helpful to look at what NOT to do.
What to Avoid When Writing a Sales Email
Let’s start by looking at this cold email, which landed in my inbox on Monday:
Subject Line: FreshLeaf Marketing Inquiry
I came across your website and noticed that FreshLeaf Marketing offers digital marketing services.
I’m with [My Company]. We are a [company description, concealed for privacy] which can help you manage your clients’ Online visibility and generate more leads for their business, through an automated dashboard.
All the feature in one single dashboard.
- Automated Listings / Submissions (50+ directories)
- [17-item list continues]
The price is affordable and flexible.
Save time, save money.
You can call it the cool tool in town or the money magnet.
Let me know if you have 10 minutes on your calendar sometime so you can see if for yourself.
Save time, save money.
Looking forward to speaking with you.
Click here to know more about [My Company].
Brace yourself for some negativity…but I promise we’ll get back to constructive, tactical help in a moment!
What’s wrong with this email? First, the subject line is vague and generic, with no indication of what the email will be about and why I should open it. Without any intrigue or information, I’m already compelled to delete it without reading.
Next, the email is riddled with typos, punctuation issues, and grammatical errors. This is the first interaction the company is having with me, so you’d think they would want to impress (or at the very least, appear competent). Everyone makes mistakes, but if the salesperson isn’t willing to spend 30 seconds proofreading their sales email, how could they have time to help me?
Now, about that format. We’ve all seen it many times before: “I came across your website and…” or “My name is John and I’m a provider of…” These opening lines are so overused that I’ve already lost interest. Then it jumps into a predictable sales pitch that’s all about them.
Remember, this person doesn’t know me. By emailing me, they’re asking me to take time out of my day to read a laundry list of features while putting only marginal effort into explaining how their offering will help me.
Overall, it’s impersonal, sales-y, and canned. The service could actually be really useful, but this email does nothing to communicate that fact.
Then there’s the cheesy language like “save time, save money” (which was repeated in what I assume was a copy and paste error) and “cool tool in town.” (Ok, that last one’s a little comical, but it’s generic and abstract, offering no perceivable value.)
Toward the end, the person lets me know their pricing is affordable and flexible. Why are they talking about pricing before I’m even remotely interested? And how do they know what I would find affordable? We haven’t spoken yet.
In closing, they invite me to book a call, which isn’t bad in itself. But given what I’ve just read, why would I be interested in talking to someone who has shown they’re not interested in learning about my needs?
Phew. Ok, let’s move onto the helpful part of this post!
How to Write an Effective Sales Email
Now that we’ve covered the “don’ts,” it’s time to talk through the sales email “dos”. In general, a good sales email includes the following components:
- A specific reason to contact them
- Engaging subject line tailored to the recipient
- First line focused on recipient’s needs and challenges
- Next line providing value and help
- Action-oriented closing line
- Well-designed email signature
Read on for an explanation of each, along with examples you can implement today.
1. Have a Real Reason to Contact Them in the First Place
The key to getting your prospect to open your email is to find something real and specific to connect about. This will prevent your email from being instantly dismissed as a mass email. Even if you haven’t met, visit their website and research them on LinkedIn.
Good reasons to connect include attending the same event, having connections in common, noticing their new product launch or merger, offering a helpful report about their pain points, and so on. Be authentic and timely and they will have more reason to keep reading.
2. Craft a Good Sales Email Subject Line
An email subject line will either entice someone to open your email or not. It’s that simple.
The best email subject lines give a sense of what the email will be about and how it will offer the reader value. This is essential for cold emails because you have one shot to gain their attention enough to click “open.”
Here are some examples of good sales email subject lines:
- Following up after [event]
- Strategies to achieve [their goal]
- Question for you about [specific topic]
- Reaching out to ask about [a specific need they have]
3. Write an Opening Line Focused on Them, Not You
The key to getting your recipient to keep reading is to demonstrate that you already know a bit about them and have a baseline understanding of their needs. The worst thing you can do at this stage is talk about yourself.
After you’ve addressed them by name, try one of the following few opening line ideas to capture their attention:
- It was nice meeting you at [event] [yesterday/the other day/last week]. I enjoyed learning about [topic you talked about].
- [Name of connection you have in common] suggested I get in touch with you about [topic].
- It was exciting to [read/hear] about your [company announcement or personal achievement]. Congratulations on [why the result is important].
4. Showcase Value in a Non-Sales-y Way
Once you’ve led with them, you can open up more about why you’re emailing and how your offer can help them. You’re still not “selling,” but rather piquing their interest so they’re compelled to reply.
Try offering a valuable resource or asking a question that helps them solve their core problem. Try one of the these, or a version thereof:
- Since you mentioned [topic you discussed], I thought I’d send you [name of useful resource, with text hyperlinked to the source].
- To help you with [specific challenge], I wanted to send you this [name of useful resource] which offers useful strategies to [solve their problem].
- Given the recent [industry change or new regulation], how do you plan on [adapting/responding/keeping up]?
After this, move onto the close. Note that we never went into features, specifications, or pricing. This is intentional as you haven’t yet earned their response or trust.
5. Close with a Call-to-Action
Your closing line should be brief, to-the-point, and focused on the next action you want them to take. Don’t waste time and space with filler like, “I look forward to your prompt response and continuing our conversation.” It’s overdone and carries no meaning anymore.
Instead, try closing with a statement like:
- If you’re interested, I’d love to jump on a 10-minute call to tell you how [the product/service] can help you [desired result].
- I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about [their main problem].
- Do you have time for a quick call on [how product solves their problem]?
These lines are short, sweet, and more likely to garner a response than the generic closing paragraphs you’ve seen a million times.
6. Design a Simple, Strategic Email Signature
The final touch is a professional, simply designed email signature. It should be pleasing to the eye but not visually overwhelming.
For best results, include the following in your email signature:
- Name and job title
- Pertinent contact information (e.g., phone number, link to book a meeting in your online calendar)
- Links to your primary social profiles
- Company logo or company name hyperlinked to website
- If desired, link to strategic content resource, upcoming event, company anniversary, or new product
For all of the above, make sure it‘s strategic and that there are no broken links or out-of-date information.
Sales Email Example
Now, let’s rewrite the bad email from before!
Subject Line: Question about boosting your clients’ leads
Congratulations on the launch of your company earlier this year! I read your recent blog post on small business marketing budgets and liked how you included a sample budget breakdown. Very useful!
Given your knowledge about lead generation, I thought you’d appreciate a free trial of our lead gen platform. The tool has already helped small marketing firms just like yours quadruple their clients’ leads.
Have you considered offering your customers added value by boosting their leads?
I’d love to jump on a 10-minute call to walk you through the free trial.
Manager, Business Development
[logo hyperlinked to website]
This rewritten email is much more likely to get a response than the original. Even if I’m still not inclined to reply, it made me feel valued enough to form a positive feeling about this company.
I might even click through to their website, see a blog post I’m interested in, follow them on LinkedIn, etc. See how it can all snowball from a simple sales email?
With these tips in mind, you have all the tools to write sales emails that your prospects will actually read and respond to.
Best of luck with your selling efforts!