My dad cooks the best Char Siu (Chinese BBQ) pork in the world. (Also, he can also totally beat up your dad too). I once asked him for the recipe and tried making it myself, but I was shocked to find out that it was nowhere near as good.
Not even close.
Needless to say, I was pretty confused at the result. After all, I had all the right ingredients and measurements, but there was something still missing. Something that prevented it from being truly great.
It’s the exact same when it comes to writing a killer sales email.
Most people have the right bits and pieces—they’ll have a snappy enough subject line and maybe even a witty line or two. But in the end, all they have is something that’s just good, not great.
In order to make sure you write the best sales email you’ll ever send, here are the five secret herbs and spices that’ll turn your sales email from being good, to something great.
1. You have a (good) reason.
Every single day, the average office worker receives up to 121 emails. Most of these emails will be ignored, and rightly so because they have no relevance whatsoever to the reader (or use up most of their precious word counts talking about how awesome their companies is).
One thing to keep in mind whenever you’re writing a sales email is that you are asking someone for their time. In the real world, you wouldn’t walk up to a random person and demand that they listen to your sales pitch, and the same goes for sending emails to prospects.
In every sales email you send to a cold prospect, you have to clearly demonstrate that you have a good reason why you’re reaching out to them in the first place.
You can see how, in the following example, that the first two lines reference a piece of content that the prospect recently published and the shared interest between the sender and receiver.
Something else to keep in mind when writing a sales email: put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Ask yourself why they should be interested in reading your email. What’s in it for them exactly?
If all your email consists of is boasting about how amazing or innovative your company is, then you have a bad sales email. Every pitch email should clearly articulate the value a prospect will receive by responding.
Like this email to Starbucks, which clearly outlines all the different ways Starbucks can benefit from partnering with Twilio.
2. Keep it informal.
A mistake that virtually every salesperson makes is believing that emails have to be completely professional. While it might be the safest option, it’s also the most generic and boring.
In order to write the best sales email ever, you need to remember that the person on the other side is a human too.
A survey by Software Advice found that 65% of customers preferred salespeople adopting a more casual tone in their communications. While that doesn’t mean you should be starting off every email with “Whazzup” (or any other dated early-2000s references), it does mean that you shouldn’t be afraid to include the recipient’s first name, add some humor to your emails, and keep your messages short and to the point.
Notice how the following example adopts a casual and friendly tone while still being professional.
The tone of the email comes off as if you’re speaking to a friend rather than an overly aggressive salesperson.
Another benefit of adopting a more casual tone when pitching a prospect is that it’ll help your sales email stand out more.
We all want to be able to interact with someone who we believe is authentic and genuine, and writing informally goes a long way in helping you establish that sense of trust early in the relationship.
This sales email example includes a funny GIF that’s immediately eye-catching, and the pitch is short and to the point. Adding some personality to your sales emails reminds people that they’re talking to a human and not just some faceless corporation.
3. Stack it with social proof.
Remember this from your parents? “Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it?”
My answer usually went along the lines of, “Yes, of course I would. If everyone was doing it then there must be a good reason!”
And then I would promptly get smacked upside the head with a slipper or whatever else happened to be in reach at the time. What my parents, and I, didn’t understand at the time was that we had just engaged in a thought experiment about social proof.
Social proof is best described as a psychological phenomenon where we look for evidence in the actions and experiences of others before making a decision, especially if we’re uncertain of the outcome.
It’s why nearly 70% of online consumers look at product reviews from past customers when making a purchase, and why 83% of people value and trust the recommendations of friends and family over any other form of advertising.
Which is why when writing a sales email, you should be looking to include as much social proof as possible. To convince a prospect to respond, and more importantly, do business with you, you must be able to present them with evidence to support their decision.
You can see this in action in the following email example that mentions “100,000 customers” within the first line. By mentioning the number of customers that the company already has, it places the reader in the mindset of “If this was the right move for hundreds of thousands, it might be the right move for me.”
4. Ask questions.
While most of us understand the importance of asking questions in a sales email and how it encourages prospects to engage with and respond to a cold email, many of us aren’t asking the right questions.
How this works: you’re taking advantage of another psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik effect, a quirk where our brains tend to fixate on unfinished tasks. Which is why ending a sales email with a question usually makes it likelier that a prospect responds to your message—and remembers it long after they’ve read it.
Another reason why asking questions is so powerful is because you want your prospect to feel engaged and like they’re part of the conversation. No one likes being a part of a one-sided conversation that they have no input in. By asking a question, you’re inviting your prospect to engage with you and have a discussion.
What many of us forget, however, is that there is a delicate art to asking questions in a sales email.
You can easily turn a prospect off if you ask the wrong questions. I’m talking about questions that only serve to benefit the sender and their lead qualifying process, instead of asking questions that genuinely interest and intrigue a prospect.
In the following example, the email ends with the question, “Do you have any current issues we can help answer?”
The question itself actually requires the prospect to put some thought into the answer, as well as implying that you have the expertise and authority to deal with any issues that the prospect does come up with.
5. Have a clear call-to-action.
At the end of the day though, none of this matters unless you’re able to encourage your prospect to take your desired course of action.
Where many salespeople fail with their pitch emails is that they include way too much information in the email itself, often leaving the prospect confused as to what next steps they should take.
This is especially prevalent when doing cold outreach as some salespeople want to give their prospect as many options as possible to demonstrate value, often pushing them to download a lead magnet, check out a link, and book a time for a call.
However, this can have the opposite effect as giving your prospect too many options increases the likelihood of them deciding not to take any action at all. (Choice paralysis, anyone?)
To make sure you avoid this mistake, it helps to focus on a single call-to-action. (The more specific the better, so that it’s easy for a prospect to understand what to do next.)
Here’s a good example of a cold outreach email with a clearly defined call-to-action.
What makes the call-to-action on this email so strong? It effectively explains the reason and outlines the value and benefit the receiver can get from taking action, before giving a definitive time and date to arrange a call.
By being specific as possible with your call-to-action, you’re removing the amount of thinking that the recipient has to do; because you're offering a concrete time, all the recipient needs to do is reply with a “yes” or “no.”
Remember the details.
For those of you who want to write awesome sales emails, it’ll help to remember these five simple tips.
When it comes to drafting a sales email, it’s often helpful to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes for a minute. Consider what kind of objections they might have to your pitch, if it makes sense for them to engage with your email at this point, and if you’re communicating the value you could bring.
Very often, the difference between a good sales email and a great one is in the details.
What’s the best sales email you’ve ever seen? Are there any other secret ingredients I’m missing? Tweet us and let us know!