How to write a sales email that will actually land sales

1. Research

If you send an email without gathering any background information, you only stand to annoy your prospective customer. Buyers do not have the patience to answer basic questions, especially since the answers to many of them are easily accessible.

What you should research:

  1. Learn about the company by visiting its website and social media accounts. Take the time to research the company’s mission, size, number of employees, product offerings, average sale size, pricing strategy, etc.
  2. Do a background check to make sure you reach out to the right person at that company. The about and contact pages on the company website will usually have this information.
  3. Use LinkedIn to find out more about the buyer. What is their role? Have they been in their current role for a long time? Gather as much relevant information as possible to properly personalize the email.

After you gather information, think about the company’s challenges or pain points. By simply taking the time to research potential pain points, you will impress your buyer and in some cases, you may even make them aware issues they hadn’t noticed.

For example, if you were selling a marketing service, you would look at how the company is currently driving traffic. Perhaps their advertisements are targeting the wrong demographic. You can use this in the initial conversation.

E.g. “I noticed your advertisement targets X, but the majority of your customers are Y. Has this been working? Have you been able to hit your traffic goals?”

Best places to research before sending an email:

  • Buyer’s LinkedIn account
  • Buyer’s Twitter account
  • Company’s Twitter account
  • Company’s press / media page (if applicable)
  • Google the buyer
  • Google the company
  • Competitor’s Twitter account(s)
  • Competitors press / media page (if applicable)
  • Financial statements (if accessible)
  • Relevant industry blogs
  • Refer to your own notes (if reaching out to an old connection)
  • Glassdoor
  • Business databases ($$)

2. Subject line

When it comes to sending an important email, the key to success is creating personalized and engaging content. The subject line is the first opportunity to do so. The subject line needs to quickly create interest, without sounding like a sales pitch.

Write for mobile, keep it short.

When crafting your subject line, it’s important to think about how it will appear on all devices. Too long of a subject line can lead to important words being cut out on certain mobile devices.

Note: iPhone cuts the subject line around 35 characters and Android wraps to the next line.

As a general rule of thumb, limit the subject line to 30 characters or less. Keep it short and enticing. Research done by Retention Science found that subject lines with 6–10 words had the highest open rate, and subject lines with words in the 0–5 range had the second highest open rate.

Examples of effective subject lines:

  • [name], quick question for you
  • [mutual connection] recommended I get in touch
  • Ideas for [something important to prospect]
  • Questions about [recent event, product, keynote, etc]
  • Thoughts on [recent event, product, keynote, etc]
  • Questions about [prospect’s goal]
  • [name], have you considered [thought, recommendation]?

Everyone will find success with different subject lines. Buyers in different industries may not respond to generic subject lines. Perhaps your industry is very formal, “[name], quick question for you” may not work for you. To find what works best for you, tailor subject lines to your industry and test different versions.

How to test different subject lines:

  1. Create multiple subject lines to test (e.g. 2–4)
  2. Use an email tracker to see which emails are opened
  3. Track each subject line for 50–100 emails so your data has statistical significance
  4. Analyze the data and choose the subject line with the highest result. Aim for an open rate of 30–50+%.

3. Opening line

People often start emails with a meaningless opening sentence that poses as an introduction (e.g. “I hope this email finds you well”). These niceties mean nothing and in some circumstances can be too formal. An effective opening line should serve only two purposes — generate interest and make the recipient want to read more.

Some examples of interesting openers:

  • Saw that we both…
  • Loved your post on…
  • Congratulations on…
  • Did you know [relevant and interesting state that applies to the prospect]
  • Noticed your company recently…
  • [Mutual connection] recommended we chat about X
  • What would it mean if your business could achieve [benefit]?
  • I have an idea to address [pain point]
  • Recently came across this [article, video, learn] and thought you’d appreciate it (give your recipient value)
  • Is X a priority right now?
  • I help companies like yours solve [pain point] by…

4. Body

The body of the email needs to convey value by further connecting what you can offer to your prospect’s needs. Just like the subject line and the opening line, the body needs to be personalized. Avoid generic value propositions such as “we help develop brand identity”. Instead, tailor your body to directly explain how you can solve the potential customer’s problem (e.g. “I think we can take [company name] to the next level by developing your brand identity”). By using personalized, conversational language, you will encourage your potential customer to keep the conversation going.

While reading a sales email from an unknown sender, a buyer will be generally be asking the following questions.

  • Who is this person?
  • What are they emailing me about?
  • Are they offering me any value?
  • Is this email important to me?
  • Do I need to respond?

The body of your email should quickly and effectively answer all 5.

The body should include free value (article, video, etc.), personalized questions, and offer benefits. Offering free value creates reciprocity and can make a prospective client more inclined to follow a call to action. Personalized questions will get him or her thinking and encourage further dialogue. By highlighting the benefits you can offer, you are planting seeds before your call to action.

5. Closing

A strong close gives a clear path to action. Use this part to guide the potential customer towards next steps. This sentence should be short and direct.

Strong closing examples:

  • What does your calendar look like to chat?
  • Have you given any thought to the proposal?
  • Let me know what makes sense as a next step.
  • Do you have a few minutes to catch up tomorrow?
  • Does it make sense for us to talk? If not, can you refer me to the best person to talk to?
  • Are you available for a call on [date, time]?
  • Let me know if [business goal] is a priority for you now, or perhaps sometime in the future.
  • Are there any more questions I can clear up?

6. Signature

Think of the signature like the footer of an email. It should only be used to remind the recipient who send the email. It should be short and to the point. Limit the signature to 3–4 lines of text.

Title (optional), Company (linked to website)
Phone number
Social media (optional, LinkedIn recommended)

Tips for a good email signature:

  • Keep it short
  • Use plain black text. If you have to use colour, make sure to align it with your company’s branding
  • Include a link to view an online profile (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Do not include your email (they can see who sent it)
  • Do not use an image
  • Do not use a quote

7. Timing

Hubspot found that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email with 20% higher opens than average. Monday and Wednesday tied for second with 18% higher email opens, followed by Thursday at 15% and Friday at 8%. The same study revealed that 11 AM EST had the highest amount of email opens, making it the best time to send the email.

Bonus: 100+ free sales email templates.