Your Complete Guide to Writing Sales Emails That Work

Your Complete Guide to Writing Sales Emails That Work

how to write sales emails

Workdays are already stressful enough without piling on the repeated grind of reading unwanted emails. Think about this for a second: the average executive gets more than 90 emails every day. Every day! That is a ridiculous amount of email. To make matters worse, they actually have to spend more than two hours daily going through their inboxes. That is a huge amount of time to waste on spam, right?

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There is no way that any busy person will have the time or desire to read through that much communication every day. This is why it is up to you – the sender – to make your email worth reading and responding to. Otherwise, they will just skim through your email while muttering, “so what?”

How do you, as a salesperson or marketer, get these important decision makers to read your email? It may not seem like such a big deal to the uninitiated, but you know this could make a huge impact on your paycheck. This is serious business. So why are so many marketers getting it so wrong? Research shows that sales emails today have a response rate of only one percent.

This could be because of a whole range of factors. But, the top reasons why your sales emails suck is because they are too impersonal, complicated or, worse, annoying! How can you change this trend? I bet that question is running through your mind right now. This article will show you the way, breaking down what it takes to write and send an effective sales email that people actually want to read and respond to.

Your Complete Guide to Writing Sales Emails That Work

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Sales Email

Communication concept: Hand pressing a letter icon on a world map interface

We all think we know what a sales email is, with evidence in the spam or trash box to prove it. But, these communications are not supposed to be the junk of the Internet. They are actually pretty effective online sales and marketing tools if used correctly.

A sales email is a basic, direct communication that helps give customers an extra push to but something or close a sale. Unlike other promo material, sales emails focus on just one product or line. However, they have evolved to the slightly controversial form they take today.

No matter how you look at it, the main problem with sales emails is that they are unsolicited. You do not need to have had prior contact with the recipient; just a mailing list and a lot of time on your hands. That is why they are also usually called “cold” sales emails.

Because of this, they really do not give you the right to demand any extra time or attention from a prospective client. In fact, your emails have low open and response rates because they probably come across as too vague, entitled, pushy or insincere.

Despite all this, finding success with sales emails is not impossible. Here is how you can turn your dreadful sales emails into highly efficient marketing machines.

Steps to Writing and Sending an Effective Sales Email

With that pretty grim disclaimer, it must seem like penning a great sales email that actually works is almost impossible. But that is not the case: you just need a lot of research and practice. These practical steps will help you write better sales pitches and make sure they are not chucked straight into the dreaded trash bin.

An effective sales email has five main components:

  • The subject line
  • The opening line
  • Body copy
  • Closing copy
  • The signature

Read on for the details of what should go into each section as well as the do’s and don’ts that will help you transform your sales emails.

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Subject Line

No one wants to read a long, winding subject line on their email list. They are also not so fond of blurbs that are too vague or mysterious. Instead, make your subject line short but captivating enough to entice the prospective client into opening your email. Your goal here is to spike interest, not sound like a desperate used car salesperson.

In a very thorough study conducted in 2014, researchers found out that people do not like seeing certain words in the subject line. This may be because they are very off-putting, aggressive, or misleading. The “bad” words include:

  • Final
  • Complimentary
  • Sale
  • Reminder
  • Discount
  • Specials
  • Help
  • Donation
  • Exciting
  • Solution
  • State-of-the-art
  • Partner
  • Tempting
  • Help
  • Don’t

These words come across as really “spammy” – so stay far, far away from them.  Instead, you can use more direct one-liners like:

  • (Their name), quick question for you
  • (Name of mutual acquaintance) suggested that I get in touch
  • Thoughts about (the title of article or blog post)
  • Question about (recent event/goal they have)
  • Ideas for (something that is important to them)
  • Have you considered (recommendation)?

Another great tool you can use here is the A/B test. This will just help you evaluate your subject lines before you start hitting send. The A/B test is very simple and straightforward. Even better still, it will give you some pretty accurate results immediately.

Start off by choosing a batch of 50 to 100 addresses from your mailing list and splitting that list into two groups. Then, send each group an email that has different subject lines but the same content.

Make sure to track the results from your experiment. This process will help you to easily identify just which type of subject line produces higher open and response rates. This information will also be vital to the rest of your email campaign.

The A/B test guarantees you a 30 to 50 percent spike in your sales email open rate!

2. Opening Line

Sure, your first inclination will be to introduce yourself here. Please don’t! Instead, start off by saying something about the prospective customer. This is where you show that you spent some time finding out something about them because you are really interested in their business. Try openers like:

(Name of mutual connection) suggested…

Congratulations on…

Your post on…blew my mind…

I saw that we both…

3. Body Copy

This is where your research starts really paying off because it will help you avoid being “spammy” or generic. Here, you get a chance to show how exchanging emails with the prospect will help build value for them.

Avoid rambling on about you or what you do. The most boring content includes lines like, “Our company helps businesses increase their reach by 200%,” et cetera. The focus is not on what YOU do, but how you can help THEM do their job better.

Instead, try asking specific questions based on what you found out about your prospect’s goals. Some great examples are:

  • If you could, how would you improve your business strategy?
  • Is (specific goal) one of your top priorities right now?
  • Do you have any questions about (the specific topic of interest)?

This approach is guaranteed to pique their interest. You will be amazed at how many people will get back to you asking for more information. In this great example below, an app developer showed a conference organizer exactly why a partnership would be vital:

”Do you want to get more attendees at your upcoming business conference? You can cut down no-shows by up to 50 percent by keeping participants informed and involved with our custom mobile app.”

4. Closing


Good closings are not just important in TV court dramas! You need to finish just as strongly as you started. Make sure that your closing gives the recipient a specific call to action. Think about what you would like them to do, and frame a question that prompts a particular response from them. Some great examples include:

  • Are you available for a quick call tomorrow?
  • Do you have some time to catch up?
  • Let me know if (specific goal) is a top priority right now, or sometime in the future.
  • What do you think is the best next step for you?

5. Signature

Some marketers think that having a huge, gaudy signature is the way to go. It really is not. Prospective clients should not be distracted by the way your signature loops across the page! Also, stay away from any sappy inspirational quotes. No one appreciates a sales team that plays on emotions to close a deal.

Instead, make sure and follow these five basic rules for your sales email signature:

  • Keep it short.
  • Either use understated colors that are in line with your firm’s branding, or simple black and white text.
  • Make sure to add your phone number in the contact information. You obviously do not need to add your email address!
  • Add a link to professional online profiles like LinkedIn.
  • Do not place an image in your email signature! Please, just avoid it. This will mark you as an amateur, unprofessional, or both.

Templates for Sales Emails that Cannot be Ignored


Templates are just that: a guideline that shows you how to get it right. They are not supposed to be used word-for-word. Give yourself room to be creative and personalize each email with the tips above.

That said, here are four sales email templates that have been used successfully by sales and marketing teams all over the country:

1. Showing value

Hi (their first name),

I have worked with a lot of people in (specific position or industry) for (exact number) years now. One of the major challenges they are struggling with is (specific challenge).

This year, we have helped (exact number) companies to achieve (specific goal). This has led to (specific benefit, e.g. money saved, profits, rise in productivity, etc.)

If you identify with this issue too, let us schedule a quick call. I can give you some simple ideas that might help.


(Your name).

2. Your approach to a specific problem

Hi (their first name),

Your article on LinkedIn yesterday addressed an issue that I have heard three other sales directors talk about just this week. I would love to hear your views on this problem.

We help sales executives boost the success of their reps using tools that use an identical approach. Are you available to speak more for five minutes on either Wednesday or Thursday this week?

Talk soon,

(Your name).

3.  Announcement

(Their first name),

I work in (specific industry) and noticed that you (the firm’s action) at (the firm’s name) recently.

From experience, (specific issue) usually becomes a major priority when this happens. I thought you might be interested in finding out how we helped (mention a similar firm) flourish in their new direction without any problems.

Would you like to talk more extensively about this? Then let us set up a call. How does your calendar look on (specific day and time)? Let me know.


(Your name).

4. Helpful advice

(Their first name),

I saw your latest announcement about (the firm’s action). The news got me thinking about this article on (specific topic) that I read recently. I thought you could use the information as you and your team move forward.

I hope you find it helpful. Let me know if you would like to talk about it more offline.

Best of luck,

(Your name).

You can find other great sales email templates here.

What is the Best Time to Send a Sales Email?

You have taken the time to do your research and craft a killer sales email. Do not spoil all your good work by sending the email at the wrong time! A recent ten-month study looked at how many emails are read every day of the week. This helped scientists identify just which days had the highest open rates. And research shows that there actually is a peak time to send email pitches and guarantee that they get read.

Research shows that up to 20 percent more emails are opened on Tuesdays. Mondays and Wednesdays tied in second place with an open rate of 18 percent. On the other hand, the worst days to send your pitch are Thursdays, which have an open rate of 15 percent, and Fridays at eight percent.

Next, the study focused on finding out what time of the day led to a higher response rate. The research showed that the best time to send your email is at 11 am EST.

So, focus on sending out sales emails on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 10 am and 12 pm.

Sales Email Follow Up Strategies

After sending out your sales emails, the hardest part is definitely over. But that does not mean that your work is done. Not even close! 80 percent of the time, you will need at least five follow-ups before you can finalize any sale.

Maybe you do not know where to start this process. What do you say when someone opens your sales email? How can you build a rapport with your prospective clients? This three-step strategy will guide you through following up on and engaging with prospects effectively:

1. Track engagement and call fast

In this day and age, you cannot start reaching out to prospective clients without having systems in place to track your efforts. In fact, this analysis should be central to your marketing strategy. This is because it lets you see what works and what does not.

Using such tools, you will easily see who is engaging with your email continuously. They could be through opening the message many times or clicking on links and attachments. When someone does this, it shows that they are actually interested in what you have to offer. Then, you will be able to direct the bulk of your follow up on those people.

If that is the case, then move fast! The first step is to call them and open your conversation with a specific context. For instance:

“Hi there (name of prospect), this is (your name) from (your company). Am I catching you at a good time?”

The prospective client will most likely be very open to your call. This will give you a chance to explain your products fully and maybe even close the sale.

2. Note trigger events, follow up fast and start off with context

You can also use certain tools to track trigger events. You will be able to create a highly relevant and personalized follow-up strategy that your prospective clients will respond to better. It also keeps you from wasting time following up with everyone at random.

You can track any kind of trigger event really, from company announcements, promotions, quarterly earnings, or even birthdays!

Use these tools to help you take note of trigger events:

LinkedIn: Join LinkedIn groups that are important to professionals in your target company or industry.

Google Alerts: Use this tool to send you an alert every time a prospect, their company or product, or specific buzzwords specific to the industry are brought up online.

Newsle: This tool sends you a notification anytime your connections show up in the news or web articles.

3. Add value regularly until the prospective client is ready to do business

Sometimes a prospect gets your email while they are on a three-week leave, or concentrating on more important things. That does not mean that you should give up though!

On the contrary, it gives you a great chance to build rapport and establish your value to the prospect. You can do the latter by:

  • Sharing information about your company and products.
  • Sharing relevant books or articles with them. For example, how great would they think you were if you bought and sent them a relevant Kindle book?
  • Sharing an article mentioning them or linking back to their content.
  • Introduce them to an industry leader or another strategic partner.
  • Share some astute observations on their company, content or product.

The Final Word


If you believe that this process is too long and complicated, imagine what it is like for your prospect. Those poor people have to go through a ton of badly written pitches every day! That simple fact should give you all the motivation you need to churn out great sales pitches every time.

The only way to be an ace at the sales email is to keep it simple. Experts say that short sentences that get straight to the point keep the prospect attentive and engaged. This will lead to a higher open and response rate for you. The higher commissions you can expect certainly will not hurt!

Writing ace sales emails that people actually want to read is actually a pretty simple process. Hook in your prospects with an intriguing opener, a worthwhile value proposition, and a straightforward call to action.

But before all this, make sure that you do a whole lot of research on your prospects. You will connect with them on a deeper level, as well as offer value that will be truly beneficial to them. Follow these tips and get ready for an explosion of business to come your way.

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