In a perfect world, every email you sent to a prospect or potential would be welcomed with open arms. They’d check their inbox and open your sales email with enthusiasm, excited to read about whatever it is you're offering them.
And by the time they finished reading your email, they’d be jumping at the opportunity to get on a call with you and give you their money without hesitation.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
In fact, most prospects won’t even open your email before deleting it or sending it to their spam folder.
Because let’s face it—people hate sales emails.
Well, let me rephrase that.
People hate the generic sales emails they’ve grown accustomed to receiving for years. You know, the ones with bland and generic subject lines, no personalization and nothing compelling the prospect to take action.
Every time one of those boring emails get sent out, all salespeople suffer because that’s just one more potential client who gets completely turned off any time they receive a sales email from that point on.
So what can you do about it?
Well, we put together this guide to help you write sales emails that:
- People will actually open
- Will convince prospects, leads or customers to take action after reading it
If you’re tired of sending emails to leads that result in absolutely nothing, keep reading to find out how to write a sales email that gets results.
What you’ll learn after reading this guide:
- Why over 70% of sales emails are never read
- The four parts every sales email should include
- The four worst words to begin an email with
- X little-known hacks that’ll make your emails more engaging
- What BYAF means (and why it’s so powerful)
- What to do after you hit send
🚀 your sales emails.
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Check out these eye-opening sales email statistics.
Before we jump into how to craft that masterful sales email, let’s dig into some data. These stats give you some general sales email benchmarks and clue you into where your emails might be going wrong.
Now that you have an idea of the landscape in regards to sales email, how do you avoid being one of the 70%+ sales emails that never gets opened?
Your sales email should follow this proven structure:
A good sales email consists of these four major pieces:
- Subject line
If your emails don’t contain all of these, there’s a strong chance that you’re getting extremely low open rates, and little to no follow-ups from the handful of people that actually open them.
On the other hand, if your emails have each of these pieces and you still aren’t seeing results, it probably means you’re making some common mistakes.
But not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s start by diving into each part of a sales email and some tips on how to do each one like a pro.
Your subject line is arguably the most important part of your sales email. If it’s weak, nothing else matters because the email won’t get opened.
Now, there are all kinds of “tricks” salespeople use to get people to open up their emails. For instance, using “Re:” in the subject line so they think your email is a response. Or using ALL CAPS so your email stands out in their inbox.
Those tactics can work occasionally, but by now most people are aware of those “hacks” and just ignore you.
Instead, you need to focus on writing a subject line that’s enticing and captivates your prospect so much they have no choice but to click it.
The key is to understand what makes people open an email from a stranger in the first place. Nine times out of ten, it’s because you’ve piqued their curiosity.
Let’s say you sell secure data storage services to enterprise companies and you’re sending an email to a potential lead at a bank.
Which one of these emails do you think they’re more likely to open?
“Let’s Secure Your Data”
“Just wanted to make sure you heard about the Acme Bank incident”
Which one sparked your interest?
The first one is what pretty much every sales email looks like. It’s clear that they’re trying to sell you something and it’s more than likely going right into the spam folder or getting deleted.
The second one though is very intriguing. What’s the Acme Bank incident? And as a bank, why do I need to know about it? Plus, the way the way it’s phrased shows concern for the recipient, with no signs that you’re trying to sell them anything.
That’s an email that’s going to get opened.
Alright, so you’ve gotten them to open up the email, now what?
The very first line in your email has to grab your prospect right away. It’s the exact same reason commercials try to hook you in within the first five seconds.
If you don’t capture their attention from the very beginning, they’re either going to tune out or stop reading.
The worst part is most opening lines of sales emails fail for the exact same reason. They start with these deadly four words:
“Hello, my name is”
It makes us cringe just thinking about the thousands of emails getting sent into spam folders right now because of those four disastrous words.
Nothing says “This is a generic sales email from someone you don’t know or want to talk to” like those four words. Avoid them at all cost.
Think of your sales email like a story. Your opener needs to lead the prospect in so they have to keep reading. Keeping with the same bank example from above, we might have an opening line like this:
Subject: Just wanted to make sure you heard about the Acme Bank incident
Opener: “Hey John, Thought you might be interested in this. I don’t know if you heard, but Acme Bank was recently in the news after a serious data breach.”
Notice how we’re immediately delivering on the promise of the subject line. We didn’t use clickbait to get them to click and then lead into something completely unrelated.
But at the same time, we didn’t give all the details yet, or even make it known that we’re selling anything. So the prospect still has a reason to keep reading on in order to learn more about what happened.
By this point, any prospect that’s still reading the email is pretty engaged. They haven’t sent your email to the spam folder or deleted it yet, so they’re at least moderately interested in whatever you have to say.
Don’t lose them now!
The body of your sales email is where you need to exercise some serious copywriting chops. At the same time, you’re not writing an article for the Huffington Post here, so you need to keep it brief.
And that’s where the challenge kicks in.
Your email should strike a healthy balance between being concise but still have enough there to get the prospect interested.
There are a few copywriting tips that’ll come in handy here:
1. Create a sense of urgency.
One of the biggest challenges with emails, in general, is the lack of urgency. Unless you make someone feel obligated to respond right away, you run the risk of them closing your email and never looking at it again.
And sometimes it’s not necessarily because they’re not interested. They’re just busy and forget.
That’s why it’s extremely important for you to create a sense of urgency throughout your entire sales email, not just the body.
2. Ask rhetorical questions.
Do you want a better response rate on your sales emails?
That’s a rhetorical question, yet it hooked you into reading this next one right?
Using rhetorical questions is a common copywriting technique that keeps your prospect’s eyes moving forward and engages them.
When you ask a simple question with an obvious answer, the reader is most likely answering it in their heads and reading along to the next line.
3. Appeal to a specific emotion.
Four of the most common emotions that drive people to buy or take action are:
Use one or more of these emotions in your sales emails to compel your prospect to take action. Again, sticking with the bank example, we could leverage any of these emotions in the body of the email:
“Investing in better bank security software keeps your customers data safe and secure, so they never have to worry about identity theft issues.”
“After their data breach, Acme Bank signed up with us and have been 100% incident-free ever since. We work with the local credit union down the street from you as well, and they haven’t had any security issues in over two years.”
“As I’m sure you probably heard, after the Acme Bank breach, they were fined $XXXXX, not to mention all the customers they lost.”
“We recently did a survey and found that 75% of high-income adults would switch to a bank that has better data security measures.”
The emotion you choose to tackle will partially depend on what you’re selling and who your audience is. For instance, if you’re selling something for parents or pet owners, fear will be a strong motivator for them to take action.
But if you’re selling to people that live in an affluent area, envy or greed might be a stronger motivator. Again, it all comes down to who you’re sending the sales email to.
It’s time to bring it home.
The prospect clicked your email thanks your attention-grabbing headline. Then they read the opening line to reel them into your story. They read through the body of the email to get a sense of what you’re about. Now they’re at the end of the line.
This is your opportunity to make it all worth it.
Do you go in for the sale?
Send them to an online form for more information?
Just wait and see what happens?
Ideally, your sales email should end with a call to action. Otherwise, the recipient won’t have any idea what to do after they finish reading the email.
But the call to action you use can mean the difference between a follow-up or a lost opportunity. So make sure you get it right.
Pro-tip: One of the biggest complaints people have about salespeople is that they can be too pushy.
So going right in and asking for a sale is probably the worst move you can make. Especially if you’re sending a cold sales email.
Depending on what you’re selling, some good calls to action for sales emails are:
- Ask them to reply if they’re interested in talking more
- Schedule an introductory phone call
- Ask if they’re interested in a demo (assuming you sell something that can be demonstrated)
A good closing isn’t just about what you ask, it’s how you ask as well. Some salespeople like to be a bit more aggressive with a closing like:
“So what’s the best time to jump on a call?”
The goal there is to be direct and essentially make the prospect feel obligated to follow up with you. That approach can work, but we want to give you an alternative that you might’ve been scared to try or never even thought of.
It’s an old persuasive psychological trick. In fact, it’s even a technique hostage negotiators use in tense situations.
Make the other person feel in control by using BYAF.
BYAF stands for “but you are free.”
A researcher at Western Illinois Universities analyzed over 40 studies involving BYAF and found that using the “but you are free” approach doubled the success rate for compliance!
So your closing might go along the lines of:
“If you have some time available next week, I’d love to jump on a call to talk about XYZ Bank. But you’re free to decline.”
You don’t necessarily have to use the exact phrase “you are free.” The point is you’re giving the prospect the freedom/opportunity to say no, which is something most people aren’t used to when dealing with salespeople.
One of the reasons BYAF is so effective in sales emails is because it strips away the feeling of desperation on your end. It makes it seem like you’re so confident in what you’re offering that you’re willing to leave the decision up to them.
If you’ve never given BYAF a try, test it out and compare your success rate to what you typically see. You might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
What should you do after sending a sales email?
The sales email is sent off, and now you just sit back and wait for them to respond, right?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re done after you hit send. This is what separates the average sales rep from high performers.
First, make sure you have follow-up emails scheduled to send after a certain number of days if you don’t get a response. Use a CRM to set that up.
Next, don’t feel obligated to just live in your inbox. If you have the prospect’s LinkedIn profile, follow up with a message there. Remember, some people get inundated with sales emails so they don’t check them as often. But their LinkedIn inbox might be a little less busy:
Streamline the process by using sales email templates.
We’ve broken down the anatomy of the perfect sales email. You have all the pieces you need, but the only way to know what works for you is to experiment. Try different subject lines, intros, bodies and calls to action.
Once you find out what works (the emails with the best open and response rates), use a CRM like Copper to create sales email templates based on your top performers. That way, your entire sales team can have a foundation to build on, and personalize it for each prospect:
With Copper, you can save multiple email templates for various scenarios and use cases. Not only can templates increase your salespeople’s success rates, but it also saves them the time of manually typing out new emails.
Start sending sales emails that get results.
Sales emails can be a powerful way to earn new business and hit your sales targets—but only if you do it well.
Use the tips and tactics in this guide to craft a winning sales email every time.