There are six key parts to the effective sales email: the subject line, opening, body copy, call to action, and a signature. And while the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, each section needs to be carefully crafted with a specific goal in mind.
1. Write intriguing subject lines
The notorious email subject line. This is what separates the pro sales reps from the little leagues. Because upwards of 47% of people decide to open an email based on just the subject line, it’s what will help you stand out in that more-crowded-than-a-school-of-sardines inbox.
So if you can’t get this right, you may as well throw the whole email away. Go ahead, scrap the whole thing. If you don’t, your prospect will.
Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic. But if you fail to promise value that captures their attention, you’ll go straight to “delete” or worse—spam.
First things first, avoid being spammy. We hate spam more than we hate, well, spam.
No offense to the canned pork/ham hybrid of yesteryear, it’s just that spam (of the email sort) leaves a bad taste in the mouth. To ensure you stay out of the spam can—ahem, folder—here are some trigger words to avoid in your subject line:
- Call now
- Increase sales
Next, avoid title case when writing these out. The title case is appropriate for blog posts and headlines, not for email subject lines. Why’s that? Because you always want your emails to feel like you’re sending a letter to a friend. And when was the last time you emailed your old friend like “Cindy, You Won’t Believe How Much This Cost!”
Next, as simple as it sounds, it still happens to even the best of us. When using sales automation, make sure the correct name is in there, there’s no extra spacing or brackets showing. Otherwise…
Finally, here’s what you should do.
Open a loop
Take your subject line up a notch and improve your open rates by adding the curiosity element. Pique their interest without giving it all away. Here are subject line formulas:
- [relevant topic], e.g. "cold email" or "pipeline"
- [Problem your products solve], e.g. "unresponsive prospects"
- [Value proposition in 2-3 words], e.g. "increase rep activity"
- I might be wrong about [common idea], e.g. "I might be wrong about CSMs needing sales engagement too" - ideal for cross-selling.
- Question about [goal], e.g. "Question about predictable pipeline"
- [Name], meet [Name]
Related Post: 75 Sales Prospecting Email Subject Lines to Get More Responses
2. Deliver in your opening lines
The difference between a clickbaity subject line and a really good, tactful one? Closing the loop. That means if you went with the curiosity factor in the subject line, you need to deliver on that in the intro.
If your prospect even gets a whiff of deceit—using curiosity factor only for them to open (and not delivering on the closure) or your subject line doesn’t match the contents of the email, they’ll smell the deceit… immediately.
Next, don’t make the mistake of talking about your product or service right away even if you're cross-selling. Prospects like buying from people they can relate to and trust, so be sure to hit these three things:
- Context: Say why you’re reaching out.
- Trust: Show that you’ve done your homework about the company in case you're reaching out cold. Or share what their other department achieved using your solution when cross-selling.
- Credibility: Show why you’re the person to help.
Then, and only then, you can make a natural segue into your sales pitch.
3. Keep the body concise
The body should be where the actual outreach is implemented.
You may have heard, “your prospects are busy, so keep it short.” But that doesn’t mean you have to quite literally start your email with “I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this short.” So instead of saying you’ll cut to the chase, just do it!
Your sales email is a delicate balancing act between delivering the message and keeping it snappy enough to where they know more.
To do this, when you talk about yourself/company, make it hyper-relevant to the person you’re emailing. Always ask yourself: why should they care?
Help solve a problem they’re having in just one sentence. You can do this by a simple “Companies like [existing customers similar to your prospect] use [your company] to solve [problem relevant to them] by [how you solve it].”
4. Include a clear call to action
The CTA. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it’s the ask. After you’ve piqued their interest, delivered value, and proved why you're the right person to help them solve a problem, you then ask them to take the next step with you.
It’s the cherry on top of a deliciously engaging email. And without the cherry, what’s the point? Your prospect will be asking themselves the same thing if they read through an email and aren’t presented with a clear Call to Action—even if they savored the entire thing.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
According to Gong
- The simplest of CTAs can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” That’s because your CTA should take the path of least resistance.
- Asking people to do more than one thing muddles the message and causes decision paralysis.
- Your CTA should be directly related to the goal, which we discussed in the body copy section.
- If you're writing the first cold email; don't ask for time, ask for interest. E.g. "Opposed to learning more?"
, confirming your prospect is interested before asking to set a meeting is 2x more effective than regular outreach.
In your follow-up emails, rather than saying “when’s a good time to meet?” which causes your prospect to, well, think about it, simply give them a time and date to accept Yes/No to. For example: “Does Tuesday next week at 11 am work for you?”
Even better, share your availability with Mixmax.
It requires less friction to click a button, you see.
5. Make more use of your signature
Not to be forgotten, your email signature actually takes a good chunk of the space. And yet, it’s easily forgotten about—chalked down to a name, title, and phone number. Well, we’re here to challenge that notion.
First, keep the basics such as name, company, and contact info. Include a photo to cultivate that trust factor. Add any social media links as additional ways to connect with you and see that you are indeed a real human.
Next, think about any newsworthy details you can include such as:
- Your company in the news
- Link to a relevant case study
- Mention of a recent award
Lastly, email signatures don’t have to be boring but they also shouldn’t be a distraction. Keep everything concise and down to the most important details.
Bonus: the P.S.
Listen up, we have a secret weapon for your sales emails arsenal: the P.S. Back in the days of handwritten letters (remember those?), the P.S. was a lifesaver for thoughts that came up after you’ve already signed off.
Professor Siegfried Vögele, author of Handbook of Direct Mail: The Dialogue Method of Direct Communication, reported that 90% of recipients read the P.S. first.
That’s something you can use to your advantage. Here are some ways you can implement the P.S. strategy:
- Use the P.S. to personalize your email further by mentioning why they should care today. E.g. "I thought you'd find this helpful as you just hired 2 new SDRs."
- Mention a testimonial of a company similar to theirs as social proof
- Add a bonus if they act fast (best used when you are trying to close a deal rather than just make the first point of contact)
- Not to contradict ourselves, but if the main CTA is a big ask, you could add a second CTA. E.g. "Still unsure? Hit reply and let’s chat about it!"