Sales Email Format: How to Write Emails People Want to Respond To

Smart marketers and salespeople have known this key secret for a while now: sales email marketing is the most effective way to get in touch with prospects. This is because sales email templates that work start a meaningful conversation with potential customers. This makes it even harder to understand why many online marketers are still struggling against low open and response rates. Why could that be?

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Think about it this way: the average professional spends at least a quarter of their work day going through their inboxes. While this makes emails an important part of business communication, it also means that you have to go the extra mile to get in front of the right prospects. It is also why many employees will tell you that sales emails are impersonal, annoying, and – even worse – spam.

Since you do not already have a prior relationship with prospects, you really cannot demand much of their time or attention. The main purpose of a sales email is to start a back-and-forth conversation with potential new customers.

This means that sales emails must be crafted in a different way to ensure that you get the response you need. And this is where most marketers start running into problems, mainly because they really do not know how to write a sales email that gets results.

What is the difference between sales emails that work and those that get sent straight to the trash folder? Why are you getting responses less than one percent of the time while others are getting dozens of new leads? This post will show you the right way to write sales emails that prospects will want to respond to.

Sales Email Format: How to Write Emails People Want to Respond To

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How to Write a Sales Email People Want to Respond to

What makes one sales email successfully bring in new clients while another less than effective? Is it the length, writing style, subject line, or the ideas it contains? The simple answer is that you have to include a little bit of all these things to create a great sales email template. Personalization is not always the only key.

Before getting into the specifics of what you might be doing wrong, it is good to fully understand sales email marketing first.  Sales emails are different from the regular kinds of emails you may send to someone that you already know, like a boss, coworker, or existing customer. Instead, sales emails are the kind that you send to prospects to see if they are interested in buying a product or service.

It is common for marketers to work with a targeted email list of new prospects. But they still see response rates that are less than ten percent – even with personalized emails. If this is also the case for you, then your emails could definitely use some work.

The basic fact here is that most marketers work off of sales email templates today. That could explain why almost every sales email will read something like this:

Subject: (Your company name)

Hi (prospect’s name). Hope you are well.

(Your company name) is the industry leader in… (a paragraph describing how great your company is).

(Your company name) offers the following services and products… (a bulleted list of all that your company does).

(Your company name) has served the following customers… (a list of some of the big companies you have worked with).

I would like to set up a ten-minute phone call to talk about how we can help you.

If you would like any further information, do not hesitate to contact me at (your phone number) or browse our company website (website link).


(Your name and contact information).

This seems like a pretty standard and straightforward sales email template, right? Unfortunately for you – if you rely on generic templates – it is not very effective. To understand just why that is, you have to look at it from the perspective of the prospective client:

  •    The subject line is too general and means nothing to the prospect. Remember, they do not know anything about you or your company. Therefore, chances are high that they will not open the email.
  •    Since they do not know you, the greeting and concern for their health sounds very fake and insincere.
  •    Why should they care about your company? What does your email have to do with the prospect? The whole message is very vague and ambiguous, leaving the prospect with more questions than answers.
  •    Adding your contacts mid-email like that seems a little condescending. Do you think the prospect cannot find your contact information under your signature? Furthermore, why do you assume they would be desperate enough to talk with someone who has already subjected them to a very confusing email?

The main issue with such messages is that they come off as arrogant and very presumptuous. As any good marketer knows, this is a big no-no when you are trying to close a sale. Furthermore, it only compounds its sins by being too vague and confusing. This certainly does not encourage conversation or follow-up.

Other common problems with the sales emails that people are sending today include:

  •    They are too long.
  •    They pack in too many ideas into a single email. Your company might have an awesome product, but highlighting too many details in one message only confuses the reader.
  •    They are also too self-centered. If your whole email focuses on why your company, product, or service is so amazing, then you have a big problem. Sales emails are supposed to focus on showing a value is in for them.

Now that you know what to avoid, here are the basic steps you will need to follow in order to create the best sales email templates:

  •    Use a customized subject line that has been personalized and optimized for a particular recipient.
  •    Make sure to use the prospect’s name as an added layer of personalization.
  •    Create an opening line that focuses on the prospect.
  •    Ask an unexpected or thought-provoking question.

•    Use a comprehensive and well-written email signature.

How to Do Effective Research for a Sales Email

No one would think of going off for a long-distance race without any prior training. That is because doing so is just dumb. You might save some time in the short run but would only leave you in a world of pain at the end.

This concept is also applicable when it comes to writing great sales emails. If you do not lay the groundwork with extensive research and preparation, your sales email will not be relevant to the prospect’s needs and goals. In turn, this approach will not improve your open and response rates throughout the email marketing campaign.

Before writing any email, take a few minutes to do some research on your prospect. Gather important information by searching the prospect’s name on Google, checking out their profile on their company website, and even browsing through their profiles on social media.

In the course of your research, keep an eye out for concrete reasons to contact the prospect. Do you have any mutual connections? Are there any recent trigger events that affect the prospect’s company or industry? Gaining such context will help you craft timely and highly personalized emails.

How to Write a Sales Email Subject Line

The prospect looks at a sales email’s subject line before deciding whether or not to read it. It is important to note that good subject lines act as a preview for the rest of the email.

They show whether the message will provide enough value for the prospect to spend time on reading it. In fact, research shows that 33 percent of prospects will open a sales email based on the subject line alone.

If you convince the prospect here that they will gain valuable insights, resources, or market intelligence, they are almost guaranteed to open your email. Therefore, you cannot expect to use a generic subject line and get away with it.

To increase your odds, keep these sales email best practices in mind to help you create the best subject lines:

  •    Keep the subject line short: Typically, email subject lines get cut-off if they are too long. This is especially true if the message is viewed on mobile devices first. It is an important fact to keep in mind because 40 percent of all emails are opened on mobile first. Therefore, keep your subject line to 50 characters or less.
  •    Use a well-known sender name: Since people get a lot of spam emails every day, most hesitate before opening messages from unfamiliar senders. As a result, keep away from generic or “noreply” email addresses. Instead, make it more personal by sending emails from a real person’s email address.
  •    Preview what is inside: It is vital to let prospects know what to expect once they open your sales email.
  •    Using the prospect’s name in your sales email is a surefire way of personalizing it and creating an instant rapport with them. Studies show that emails that include the recipient’s first name led to a higher open rate than those that did not.
  •    Avoid false promises: Do not try to con people into opening your sales email by making false promises. Not only will this annoy your prospects, it will also teach them to distrust your emails in future.
  •    Create urgency: Research shows that subject lines that convey a sense of urgency can increase your open rates by up to 22 percent. This is because it encourages the prospect to act now instead of putting your email off for later, when they might even forget about it.
  •    Back it up with numbers: Using data is a very effective way of getting your sales emails noticed. This is because it conveys your offer in a concise way, and also sets the right expectations.
  •    Pose a question: Doing this draws the prospect in, especially when your question is relevant to the prospects goals or buyer persona.

•    Avoid capital letters and exclamation points: Nothing screams spam more than subject lines that USE ALL CAPS and use too many exclamation points!!! These two tactics are also disruptive and just rub people the wrong way. Studies show that 85 percent of people prefer a subject line that is written  in all lowercase letters.

Examples of Sales Email Subject Lines

Here are some examples of great sales email subject lines that you can use:

  • Question about (their specific goal)

  • How are you responding to (relevant recent event)?

  • Strategies for achieving (desired result)

  • Have you considered (strategy or idea)?

  • (Name of mutual connection) suggested I say hi

  • (Their name), quick question for you, re: (specific topic)

  • Just read your post on (specific topic), and…

Words to Avoid in Your Sales Email Subject Line

There are certain words that are a complete no-no for use in the subject line of your sales email. This is because they sound too much like spam and that you are actively selling at the prospect.

They also make your sales emails look like part of a mass marketing campaign to promote a particular product or service, instead of a personalized, one-time email. These forbidden words include:

• Reminder
• Final
• Sale
• Complimentary
• Tempting
• Help

• Free
• Donation
• Specials
• Exciting
• Limited
• Partner

• Solution
• Discount
• State-of-the-art
• Don’t

How to Craft a Sales Email Opening Line

Getting the prospect to open your sales email is the first hurdle. The second challenge is even more difficult but just as important: getting them to reply. This is where a killer opening line will come in handy. Not only will this draw the prospect in further, but will also keep them interested enough to learn more about your company or brand.

You should also resist the temptation to start off by talking about yourself or what you are offering. This is one surefire way of turning an interested prospect away from your email. This rule also applies to generic or blanket statements that are not specific to the prospect.

The Worst Sales Email Opening Lines

Starting your sales email with these lines will guarantee that your prospect will not even get to the second sentence:

  •    Hi. My name is (your name)
  •    You might not know me but…
  •    Are you looking for a solution for (general problem)?
  •    I was on your website and…
  •    Did you know you could do this with (product or service)?

The Best Sales Email Opening Lines

Instead of crashing and burning at this stage, catch your prospect’s eye and show them that you have done your research by using one of these great opening lines:

  •    (Name of mutual connection) suggested…
  •    Congratulations on (specific recent trigger event). That is exciting considering (mention why the event is notable).
  •    I read your (post, tweet, comment, etc.) on your experiences with (specific topic)…

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How to Write a Sales Email Template

The main body of your sales email template should be focused on showing your skill and adding value to the prospect. However, since this is your first contact, the worst move you could make is to start asking for things. It is way too early to launch into the hard sell.

Instead, your main aim should be to find innovative ways to get the prospect to respond. The best sales email templates keep this fact in mind. That is why they are divided into three simple sections:

  • The introduction:

    This has already been outlined extensively above. However, it is important to grab the prospect’s attention. This could mean the difference between getting opened or sent straight to the trash folder

  • The value proposition

    This should be the main point of the sales email. Identify one of the main problems your prospect faces and offer a creative way to solve it. If you are offering a clear and straightforward benefit, chances are that your sales email will get a favorable response.

  • The call to action

    This is another vital part of the sales email. What would you like the prospect to do? You must be able to tell the prospect exactly what the next step is.

The following are a few sales email best practices to keep in mind as you craft your sales email:

  1. Keep it short

Writing sales emails that are too long is one of the main reasons for failure. This is because it makes it very easy for prospects to ignore you.

Furthermore, ensure that the emails are neat and grammatically correct. Do some quality control before sending the message and avoid some very costly and expensive spelling errors.

Lastly, make sure to view the message on a smartphone screen too.

  1. What is the call to action?

If you are sending out sales emails, chances are that you want something from the prospect. This need should define what your call to action will be. What is your desired end game? Keep this front and center even as you go through the process of writing the sales email.

If you want to schedule a meeting or phone call, for example, make sure to suggest a specific date and time. Furthermore, it is a good idea to include information like how long the meeting or call will last.

Alternatively, you may be expecting a specific answer from the prospect. In that case, ensure that you give them a workable deadline. However, do this in a gracious way so that it does not come across as an ultimatum.

  1. Personalize

In this era of social media, sending out generic sales emails is simply a mark of laziness. You can easily find out relevant information on any prospect through checking out their social media profiles. Personalization helps you connect with the prospect and establish a strong rapport that will move your business relationship forward.

  1. Utilize technology

There are a number of sales technologies that are available to make the email process much more efficient. One of the best known of these is email trackers. These can help you learn the prospects’ habits, as well as see how effective your email campaign is.

Example Sales Email Questions to Ask Prospects

If it is possible, end your sales email with a compelling question. Here are a couple of examples:

  •    Have you thought about making (a specific change)?
  •    Was doing (specific action) your idea?
  •    As a result of (specific action, statistic, or fact), what is your strategy for (specific business area)?
  •    Do you have any questions about (specific topic of expertise)?
  •    Do you know how (industry change, new regulations) will affect you?
  •    I have prepared a report on your company’s (area of business, strategy, opportunities) in (specific area). Would you be interested in seeing it?
  •    Would you like to know how (another company within the prospect’s industry) achieved (a specific result) by (specific action)?
  •    How will you respond to (competitive move, industry change)?

How to End a Sales Email

This might seem like an obvious element of any email, but you might be surprised at just how many people are doing it wrong. The most vital rule here is that your email signature should not be a distraction.

Instead, a well-designed email signature is there to add to your credibility. It also helps prospects learn more about you and promotes the latest content from your company.

Elements of a Good Email Signature

  •    It should be short so that prospects can see the whole signature without scrolling.
  •    It should use neutral colors and plain text for a simple design.
  •    It should include your contact information and links to your most active social media pages. It could also include additional information like a recently published paper, award, or upcoming event.

The Final Word

Sales email campaigns are a great way to generate leads and test the feasibility of future businesses. It might seem like they need a lot of technical know-how to pull off well.

However, no amount of tech savvy will affect your open and response rates if the overall campaign strategy is not well planned.

Blasting out hundreds of emails every day in order to achieve your daily milestones may seem like a good idea at first. However, it is a short sighted plan. Not only does it burn you out, it also messes up good leads.

Instead, a better approach would be to start conversations and offer your prospects value. You will soon find yourself generating higher open and response rates to your cold emails and, in turn, closing more deals.

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