The Ultimate Guide For Writing Sales Emails That Don’t Suck (in 2018)

Most sales emails suck. Like really, really suck BAD.

According to the Radicati Research Group, most people get an average of 92 business emails a day. It’s even more if you include personal emails. And executives and others in “decision making” positions get even more. And they delete most of them within seconds.

Some people take this data and assume that email is just a bad method of outreach. They assume that people hate receiving email, and that cold email is “dead.”

But the truth is, people LOVE receiving email — when it’s written in the right way.

If you look through your own inbox, you can probably point out at least a few emails that didn’t suck. Heck you probably even enjoyed a few of them. Maybe it was a funny Game of Thrones meets The Office crossover fan-fiction email sent by a coworker. Or perhaps an informative, industry-related email written by a business, or even the more rare sales email with a unique message that caught your attention instantly communicated some value.

For example, check out this email from copywriter Neville Medhora:

There’s a pattern among high converting emails that goes much deeper than basic frameworks and cold email templates: Sales professionals that write the best emails see their audience as humans. Not data. Not leads. Not contacts. Humans.

They understand that all people like the same radio station WIIFM — What’s In It For Me! They know to deliver value first, the pitch later (sometimes much later). They understand that people don’t feel good if you try to move too fast towards the sale. They understand the psychology of the person reading the email.

Have you ever been on a first date where the other person was moving way too fast? Imagine walking into your favorite cafe and grabbing your favorite soy white mocha and nervously chatting about superficial topics with your potential new friend — wondering if you’ll connect and be worth exploring to maybe go on a second date. At the end of the date, as you are about to stand and say your goodbyes, you’re thinking, “Hey I think I may be interested to meet again…” And out of nowhere the person you’re sitting across from suddenly gets out of the chair, gets down on one knee and pulls out a ring box…

DANGER! DANGER! You’d have warning signs going off in the back of your head telling you to get away now. (Unless you’re the type of person that just says, “Meh, f**k it. Let’s do this.” And you just roll with it — kudos to you by the way.) The other person is moving too fast. This isn’t normal. Something must be wrong with them.

And just like your imaginary date, most salespeople move way too fast in the sales process — specifically in emails.

If your only focus is to fill out a decent response rate on a spreadsheet for your cold email campaign, you’ll end up blasting out hundreds of generic “transactional” emails that make you sound like a robot. Or worse — a jilted lover who wants to know why you’re not responding back to their “just following up” and “just checking in” emails.

In this post, I’ll cover a proven framework to write better, human-friendly sales emails that get you the response rate that you’re looking for.

The 4 Step Sales Email Framework

One of the oldest frameworks for sales emails is called AIDA, which stands for Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. This framework consistently produces great results for marketers and salespeople — whether you’re writing a cold email, writing a sales page, or delivering any other type of written sales/marketing message.

But before you can implement the AIDA framework in your sales emails, there’s one step that most people completely skip over — understanding exactly what your prospect is looking for.

Most salespeople roll their eyes at this and go straight to the writing.

The truth is, if you don’t have a sense of your prospect’s fears, hopes, dreams, and motivations, writing a sales email is like throwing darts in the dark. You’re mostly just guessing on the stuff you should include.

But if you understand how your prospect views your competition and exactly how they experience the problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll be able to convey your message in a way no one else in your industry is able to do.

Now, let’s break down the AIDA process:

Step 1: Get your reader’s attention

The first line of your email should have one purpose only: To get the reader to read the next line.

Let’s say you’re selling a piece of software to help a company increase their sales team’s productivity. How would you go about getting their attention in the first line?

The main thing to keep in mind here is that no one cares about your product yet. I repeat, No one cares about your product. But they do care about their own goals and challenges.

So for example, you could say something like this for your opening line:

“Hey [name],

I have a few ideas to help [company] increase sales team productivity by X% within the next quarter.”

Boom.

If you’re a sales manager at the target company, you’d definitely want to read on. In fact, a version of that exact line was used by a sales email consultancy company to help get their clients more customers through cold email. Here’s the attention grabber of the email they used (according to HubSpot):

The subject line immediately jumps out by showing that the email offers value without making the prospect invest too much time. And the first sentence is in alignment with that.

Here’s another example of a first line attention-grabber from YesWare:

The best attention grabbers are personalized. Prospects want to know why you’re reaching out to them specifically.

Step 2: Create interest by including the right details

After you’ve captured their attention in the first line, you want to get them interested in what you have to offer. You want to give them a reason why they should keep reading.

One way you can do this is by making a claim or a promise about the value you can bring them. For example, if you’re selling software to boost sales team productivity, the first two lines of your email could go something like this:

“Hey [name],

I have a few ideas to help [company] increase sales team productivity by X% within the next quarter.

I’ve worked with some companies in your space over the past year and have been able to help their salespeople close more deals.”

A line like that creates intrigue. You’re telling your prospect why you can help them specifically. For example, here’s how YesWare does it:

Step 3: Add a success story or testimonial to create desire

After you make a claim or a promise, you need to back it up with specific details to create desire. You need to provide proof.

For example, if you tell your prospect that you’ve worked with other companies in their space, list out the companies you’ve worked with. If you wrote that you’ve gotten other people great results, talk about the specific results you got.

Sticking with our sales software example, your email could continue like this:

“Hey [name],

I have a few ideas to help [company] increase sales team productivity by X% within the next quarter.

I’ve worked with some companies in your space over the past year and have been able to help their salespeople close more deals.

For example, a few companies I worked with include with [company 1], [company 2], and [company 3] — I actually helped [company 1] increase their sales by X%.”

In our earlier example from HubSpot, the salesperson wrote that they helped their prospects competitor almost triple their monthly run rate.

Once again, creating desire comes down to personalization. You have to keep in mind what industry your prospect is in, what competitors they have, and what type of results you’ve generated before that would be relevant to them.

Step 4: Motivate action with a killer CTA

Once you’ve done all the hard work of capturing attention, creating interest, and cultivating desire, you have to tell your prospect to take the next step.

Vague CTAs are response rate killers. Too many salespeople end their emails with things like “Let me know what you think.” The more mental work you make your prospect do to take the next step, the less likely it is that they’ll take it.

You could end your email with a CTA like this:

Sticking with our sales software example, your email could continue like this:

“Hey [name],

I have a few ideas to help [company] increase sales team productivity by X% within the next quarter.

I’ve worked with some companies in your space over the past year and have been able to help their salespeople close more deals.

For example, a few companies I worked with include with [company 1], [company 2], and [company 3] — I actually helped [company 1] increase their sales by X%.

Let’s schedule a 10–15 minute call to chat more about my ideas for you this week. Here’s a link for you to book a time: [insert link]. If none of those work for you, let me know what time you’re free.”

The HubSpot example ended similar CTA. It’s pretty clear why this email helped the company get 16 new customers:

Notice how their CTA reinforces the value prospects would get from jumping on the call. It says “Let’s schedule a quick 10 minute call so I can share the idea with you” — so it’s clear that the call won’t just be a giant sales pitch.

Conclusion

The reason the AIDA formula works so well is because each line is specific and personalized. By segmenting your prospects (by industry, by size, title, etc) you can craft AIDA-style emails that don’t suck and actually make your prospects feel glad that you reached out.

And you’ll skyrocket your response rates in the process. And we all know more responses = more meetings = more won deals.

May the sales be with you,

Joshua K Jordan
CEO & Founder
https://fourletter.io

Originally published May 09 2017, updated January 06 2018