5 Powerful, Lesser-known Sales Email Tips to Turn Prospects to Hot Leads

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Author photo: Kayla Lee

Kayla Lee


People spend about 30 hours per week in their inbox. Nearly four billion people use email. That’s more than half of the world’s population—and almost twice the amount of people on the world’s largest social network: Facebook (about 2.3 billion users).

With all those users and hours spent inside an inbox, it’s still tough for salespeople to get folks to open and respond to emails.

In this post, we’re going to share some of our proven, most successful sales email tips to help you improve open and reply rates.

1. Mention the benefits at the very beginning.

If your sales email is a concert, the benefits are the main act. Sure, the openers are okay—but really, everyone would rather just see Beyoncé.

Most people don't go to concerts to see the opening act. Go straight to the headliner: the benefits that your product/service can provide to that specific customer.

Now, most salespeople grasp the fact that benefits are what people really care about, but few people know those benefits need to be tailored each prospect, particularly if you’re selling big-ticket stuff with longer sales cycles.

How can you tailor the benefits to each prospect? It’s actually not too difficult.

Step 1. Learn about what matters to your current customers. Record the benefits of your product or service that help them most.

Step 2. Record customer personas (demographic info on your customer) and company profiles (demographics on a business if you sell things to businesses).

See if there are patterns between personas/profiles and the primary benefits of your company.

For example, you might find that businesses with yearly revenues of around $1MM find feature X to be the most beneficial because it’s both affordable and scalable.

Step 3. Refer back to your record of which benefits typically appeal most to certain personas/profiles and add those to your sales emails.

2. Make your benefits tangible.

Now that you know where to put the benefits in the email, let’s go over a couple of ways to make your benefits even more appealing to prospects.

First, benefits are results, not features. Second, it's best if they’re tied to a number that relates to profit (either money saved or money made).

So in the example above, where Feature X is affordable and scalable—a “tangible” way to articulate that would be:

If you’re like the other companies with revenue around $1MM that we help—I think feature X would save you around $40k this year.

$40k is a tangible number. Your prospect can’t imagine what they can do with “affordable,” but they know exactly what they can do with an extra $40k.

3. Use more than one placeholder.

Placeholders are the brackets you see around certain words or phrases in an email template. Like this: {{First Name}}, {{Location}}.

They filter information from a CRM record or from a spreadsheet into your email so that you can send messages in bulk that still have a personal touch.

Most people only use one placeholder: {{First Name}} at the beginning of an email.

Hi {{First Name}},

I’m Bob from Such and Such…

But, emails are much more effective if they’re more tailored and personal. In fact, a relevant email is about 18x more likely to receive engagement than a general, bulk email.

So, the more placeholders one uses, the more personal—and effective—your message will be. Plus, you won’t have to spend hours on copying, pasting, and editing each email as you go.

You can use placeholders for things like

  • {{where we met}}
  • {{benefit that will most likely help prospect}} (based on the personas like we mentioned above)
  • {{industry}}
  • {{company # of employees}}
  • {{company revenue}}

Just remember that for every placeholder you use, you need to have a column in a spreadsheet (if you’re using mail merge) or a merge field in your CRM for each placeholder.

how to create merge fields in your email.

That way, you can create emails like this:

Hi {{First Name}}

I’m Jane, we met a while back at {{where we met}}. My company, Such and Such, helps lots of companies with {{company size}} at around {{company revenue}} in {{industry}}.

If you’re like our other customers with {{company revenue}}, I think we can help you {{benefit most likely to help customer}}.

This template is extremely personal and tailored, it just so happens that you’ll be able to tailor it in less than a second per prospect.

4. Get familiar with the way spam filters work.

Spam filters are more advanced than ever. Here are a few reasons your cold email might deliver to spam:

  • It contains a link, attachment, or any other type of styling (bold, italics, colored font)
  • It contains a banana tag. Banana tags alert senders of when an email was opened (a banana tag is essentially a bit of code that filters can now pick up on)

You didn’t verify that an email address was legit before you sent the email. There are all types of “honeypots” aka spam traps out there set up to catch people who send cold emails. To avoid these traps, verify your emails with a tool like Hunter.io.

using hunter.io to make sure you're sending emails to valid addresses.

Here, you can enter the email address you want to check (you can do this as a bulk upload if you want to get your whole prospect list verified or have your marketing dept do this for you).

I like to remove emails with a validation score below 70%. This keeps me at a nice 95+ deliverability rate (deliverability = delivered to an actual inbox).

5. Send a cold email that contains a gift. (Here’s a step-by-step example.)

Here’s a unique (and relatively easy) sales strategy you can use in your emails: work with a local, up-and-coming business to give your prospects a gift.

Step 1. Find a local taco shop that might be interested in growing their customer base (all it takes is a five-minute Google search for new restaurants in your area).

Step 2. Ask the shop owner if they’ll give you 100 free 1-taco coupons. Tell them that people would come into the shop because they have a free taco coupon, but that they’ll order more food. At least a drink. So, it’d be worth his time/money. (a 10-minute phone call).

Step 3. Find and scrape a list of prospects in that neighborhood (30 minutes using Google Maps search + hunter.io. You can also hire a virtual assistant to do this for you on Upwork. Or, you can use a company like Lead411).

Step 4. Send an email to the prospect list with a redemption code for the free taco. Here’s a template:

Hi {{First Name}},

I’m Bob, with Dunder Mifflin. I know I’m reaching out cold, but I hope this free taco from Awesome Taco makes up for it. Just visit Awesome Taco and say, “I love tacos 2018” and they’ll give you a free taco, on me!

I’d love to learn about your expected paper use this year. My team over at Dunder Mifflin can help your {{industry}} {{company size}} company decrease paper costs by up to 50% in 6 months.

Do you have 5 minutes this week?

If you’re going to do something similar, make sure you use a redemption code, something text-based, so you don’t have anything but plain-text in your emails. This way, you’re less likely to trigger spam filters.

If you aren’t located where your prospects are, that’s fine. Just find a partner business (like the taco shop above, or a coffee shop, etc.) in your prospect’s area.

Write incredible sales emails.

These sales email tips are certain to improve your prospecting efforts. Make sure you make your messages more personal (and save yourself some precious time) by using multiple placeholders.

Try sending a free coffee coupon, or anything to grab your prospect’s attention. If you keep things short, sweet, and benefit-focused, you’ll start to see dramatic improvements in your response rates, and deals won.

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