May 16, 2016 by Ashwin Ramasamy

We all have been at the receiving end of sales emails. Most of them are bad. Sales reps who send them are like those insensitive and ignorant car drivers who put on the high beam lights in a narrow lane. They deserve a special place in the email hall of shame.

Don’t be like them.

What is a good sales email?

Good sales emails are short, considerate & easy to understand. The best sales emails are the ones that pay it forward. A good sales email is the beginning of a relationship. It’s the equivalent of an eye-contact and a smile at a networking event.

You don’t start extolling the virtues of your product, the moment someone smiles at you. You smile back. You shake hands and introduce. A very sophisticated and cultured rep in a conference might even offer a goodie even as he speaks with you. He’d make it memorable. You both will talk like peers.

A good sales prospecting email is no different.

The anatomy of a good sales email:

The 4-sentences rule

Good sales emails are short. Don’t make the reader scroll down. Show everything within the default view position when they open the email. Communicate whatever you have to, within 4 sentences.

How is it possible?

Well, we do that all the time. A good sales email is about the reader and what she has to gain from you. It has four parts.

Part 1 – Salutation

It’s ok to use Hi. Some use Hello (though many find it cold). Dear is out of fashion. Hey is a tad too casual for the first conversation.

In fact, there are suggestions these days to completely drop the salutation. People are used to Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Conversation era is upon us. We’re a generation of digital natives. Salutation is really hangover from the physical mail era.

Choose what works for you.

Here’s an example of an email that I recently received with no salutation.

Sales Email Examples

Part 2 – Reference

Reference is really like name dropping. Tell the recipient how you know them. Well, I know that you don’t know every recipient. But try telling the real reason.

” I found you via LinkedIn. We don’t quite know each other but I thought you’d be the best person in xxxx to talk about xxxxxx.”

What you accomplish by dropping a reason is that you are qualifying yourself as a person who has done some research and hence worthy of the recipient’s attention.

Part 3 – Hook

Hook is the reason for your email. Hook is where you ‘pay it forward’. Hook is the reason you’ll get a response.

“I realize that you’re a data science company that’s into prospecting. So I put together a custom search for you and found all data scientists in your city.”

This is a brilliant hook and it pays forward handsomely. If your business is such that you can’t offer something, at least start by sharing a white paper or a resource from elsewhere that’s going to be really useful. Find a good hook; not an excuse.

Part 4 – Ask

Don’t be shy to ask. You’ve given something already and it’s ok to ask. When you ask, be specific. The purpose of the email is to not sell but move across the ‘hill of unfamiliarity’ and become friends. An ask is really a warm handshake and a call for a mutual promise to speak again.

“If you’ve some time on friday, I can bring my founder into a call. You guys can discuss some specific cases of how we found data scientists for companies in the sales prospecting space. Can I pencil in a 30-minute slot post 2 PM?”

The Closure – Signature

Keep your signature short. Don’t stuff your signature with links, award badges, logos etc. Link to your website and may be a social channel, if that!

What not to do in sales emails

A good sales email is as much about what you leave out from it as you write in it.

  1. Don’t add excessive links
  2. Don’t pitch blatantly without paying forward
  3. Don’t explain your business and how awesome your revenue, growth, investors and partners are
  4. Don’t talk about your title, role etc. Leave those for the signature
  5. Don’t put images either in the body or the signature

If you like this, share with your colleagues. If you leave your website URL and a short pitch, I’d be happy to weigh in with my comments.

PS: I know I’ve not talked about the subject line. Expect another post on that topic, very soon!

Ashwin Ramasamy

Co-founder @ PipeCandy

Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.