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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

Salespeople: Your Emails Suck—Here's What To Do About It

Posted by Steli Efti on Sep 18, 2017 11:36:18 AM

emails-suck-sales.jpgI’m just gonna come out and say it: Most sales emails suck. And I’m not talking “mildly ineffective” suck. No, I’m mean, “You just talked your prospect out of ever buying from you” sucked.

Okay, yours probably aren’t that bad. But they probably could use a little facelift. So let’s get right to it: Here’s five actionable tips to write great sales emails that actually get opened.

#1: Supercharge your subject lines

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard it, but subject lines really are the most important part of an email.

Unfortunately, this often leads to sleazy advice, like using fake ““RE:” or “FWD:” tags. Quick tip: Don’t do that. Sure, it might boost your open rate. But as soon as your prospect realizes they’ve been tricked, expect to find a permanent home in the junk folder.

And speaking of the junk folder, here are a few more spam-worthy words to keep out of your subject lines: “Free,” “cash,” “low price,” “limited time,” “click here,” “read this,” and “this isn’t junk.”

So what should you do instead? Here’s a few quick tips:

1. Use sentence caps: Title caps scream “marketing email.” Sentence caps look more personal.

2. Use your prospect’s name: If there’s one thing everyone loves reading, it’s their own name. 

3. Ask questions: Nothing’s more uncomfortable than an enticing, unanswered question. 

At the end of the day, it’s this simple: If you wouldn’t open an email with your subject line, neither will your prospects. So take the extra 5 minutes to come up with something good; it’ll be worth it.

#2: Never, ever say “To whom it may concern” again

Hey, do me a quick favor: Open the last sales email you got and look at the greeting. What does it say? I’m gonna guess it says something like this:

  • To whom it may concern,
  • Hey [company name] crew,
  • Dear [role] manager, or
  • Hey there!

Sound about right? Despite living in an increasingly tech-savvy world, these generic copy-and-paste salutations are as common as ever. But with today’s technology, there’s no excuse not to personalize your salutation.

Don’t know the name of the person you need to reach? No problem: Tools like Mattermark make name discovery a breeze. Not sure about their email address? Try Hunter or Anymail finder.

You’ve got no excuse, so take the extra 60 seconds to find the name of whoever you’re reaching out to, and talk to them like a human being.  After all: “Hi John” is always gonna open more doors than “To whom it may concern.”

#3: Nail your opening sentence

Too often, salespeople forget that the opening line of an email is usually previewed directly under the subject line in the inbox. As a result, your opening line is just as important as your subject line. Here’s a few quick tips to get it right:

1. Avoid marketing lingo. Phrases like “Sale!” or “Limited time offer!” are going to do more harm than good. Talk to them like a person, not an ATM.

2. Use their name. If you chose not to use your prospect’s name in your greeting, here’s your last shot. Failing to drop their name here makes your email look mass-produced. 

3. Get social. Make a comment about something they recently shared on their blog or Twitter. This shows you took the time to invest into them personally. 

If you nail the subject line, salutation, and opening line, you can usually count on your prospect at least opening the email; and that’s half the battle.

#4: Tap into timely events and circumstances

To make your emails look more personalized, capitalize on recent events related to your prospect’s company. For example, did they just raise a round of funding? Acquire a new business? Hire a VP?

Events like this signal change, and times of change are the best opportunities to engage with your prospects. For example: Say you discover your prospect’s business was just accepted into Y Combinator. You might use a subject line like, “Congrats on getting into YC!” Or if your prospect just raised a round of funding, you might use an opening line like, “Hey John! Congrats on a successful series A!”

#5: Get creative with your content

Hopefully you’ve noticed by now that these tips all follow a theme: Personalization.

The most engaging emails I’ve ever received have always been highly personalized well beyond a simple, “Hi Steli!” And that means getting creative.

One great way to do this is through video. One of the most memorable sales emails I’ve received came from a salesperson who sent me a video talking me through how their product would help me. Sure, he could have just typed it all out. But that’s what everyone else does, and his video added a personal, relatable touch that really made the email stand out.

Videos not your thing? No problem: Personalization can be captured through text too. Just do your homework and develop a firm understanding of their business, their product, their industry, their market, and anything else you can wrap your mind around. Then communicate what you learned in a friendly, relatable, knowledgeable way.

One final resource for your sales emails …

Here’s the final question: If first impressions really are everything (and they are), what impression are your emails making? Are you winning over prospects or landing yourself in the Junk folder?

In a world of crappy sales emails, it doesn’t take much to stand out. Even just adopting one of these strategies will make a difference. But adopt all five? Your sales pipeline won’t even know how to handle all the new leads. Now get back out there and crush it.

Oh, and as thanks for reading through to the end, here’s a handy little gift: Want to write great sales emails every time? Download our free cold email templates here!

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Steli Efti

About the Author

Steli Efti is the Co-founder and CEO of Close.io, a sales communication platform that aims to improve customer management for salespeople. Prior to Close.io, Steli started and managed Elastic Sales, which helped startups scale their sales processes.