5 Must-Know Rules for High Converting Prospecting Emails

A mail app on a mobile phone.

These days, bulk email campaigns are becoming less effective due to an overload of spam and the corresponding abundance of increasingly efficient spam filters. Therefore, it is important for sales professionals to be selective when sending sales emails. 

Email prospecting should only be used when it’s appropriate to the situation, like when a sales rep wants to include a link or an attachment about a value proposition.

Successful emails by sales pros, sometimes referred to as “cold emails,” often include a link to a short video (keep it to 20 to 30 seconds) so the email can come to life if the prospect chooses to engage.

Further, sales prospecting email templates should always include an exciting subject line, address pain points of the prospect, incorporate your company name, and include a call to action.

In this blog post we’ll share 5 key rules for writing successful outreach emails, along with a brief guide to creating your own sales email template.

5 Sales Prospecting Email Dos and Don’ts

When writing your own emails or looking for strong prospecting email templates, you should keep five main rules in mind.

1.  Emails should be informative.

Cold emails should address a relevant pain point of the target customer to catch their attention and encourage their interest in your product/service. Sales reps should develop an email template for the purpose of targeting the right person. Further, sales reps should include a value proposition about a product/service in their email prospecting initiatives.

2.  Emails should require the prospect to take some sort of action.

Ask the prospect to click back, respond, or go to a different place on the Web. A clear call to action in your cold email will get the prospect started in the transfer of ownership process. This call to action could be as simple as encouraging the prospect to watch a short video included in the email.

3.  Cold emails should not ramble: be brief and extremely focused.

Specifically, cold emails should contain no more than five paragraphs, with no more than three sentences (short sentences, please) per paragraph. One of the paragraphs should have bullets, and there should be three bullets.

Good sales prospecting does not use email prospecting to get your company name out in the world. Further, you should not ramble on about all the successes of your company in a prospecting email.

Rather, these emails should focus on how your product/service will benefit your prospect. You should only include information and social proof that is relevant to a pain point of your prospect.

4.  Don’t put people to sleep: the subject line must arouse the prospect’s interest.

When constructing an email prospecting subject line consider the question: what would catch the prospect’s eye and lead to genuine interest in your product/service? Prospecting email subject lines that are all about you and your company name are ineffective, unless you are Apple, Google, or the President of the United States. Although you should not brush over your company name, it should not be used as a standalone subject line.

Subject lines should address a pain point or include a surprising fact relevant to the prospect. For example, if you are selling to a VP of sales, an eye catching subject line for a sales email might:

  • Cause curiosity (“Look what happened in the last quarter”)
  • Ask a question (“Are you guys tired of always being behind the hiring curve?”)
  • Provide new information (“The top 10 things VPs of sales are doing for the next year”)
  • Create a reference (“VPs of sales in consumer medical devices are speaking out”)
  • Provide a path (“The next step you need to take for a free trip  . . .”)

Further, it might be worthwhile to put the prospect’s name in the subject line to make the “cold” email seem a bit warmer!

5.  A picture is worth a thousand words; a video clip, ten thousand!

Include a picture if you can, or add a link to a video, even if it’s only a 30-second clip of you inviting the prospect to get in touch with you. A call to action included in an image or video is often more accessible or interesting to a prospect. Specifically, you can use a video to include social proof of the efficiency of your product/service, like a previous client giving a positive review.

Prospecting Email Templates

You can use the sales emails tips above to evaluate templates found online—or better yet, make your own sales email templates! All prospecting email templates should answer questions relevant to the prospect and follow the guidance above.

A solid email outreach example will look like the following:

[Subject line] Have you though about [business value]?

Hello [first name],

My company, [company name], specializes in working with [job title] and has helped companies like yours with [immediate value] in the past, resulting in [money saved, increased qualified leads, etc.]. Are you the right person to talk to about [business value]? If not, please send me the contact information for the person responsible for [business value].

I have attached the link to a short video about [related topic]. The main points are:

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Please reach book a time slot on my calendar [insert calendar link] if you would like to set up a quick call to discuss [business value] further.


[Your email signature, including your company name]

It is important to write a personalized email with relevant content for each prospect depending on their job title and what their company specializes in. However, prospecting email templates can help you get a head start on planning and put you on the right track for exactly what should be included in this type of email (like social proof for how you have helped companies with an immediate value in the past).

Other elements a sales rep might want to include in sales email templates are an internal referral, information about how other companies are performing after purchasing a particular business value, or references to a mutual connection.

Value of Emails

A sales email can be a way to continue a conversation and can be a very useful, relatively painless, and not at all pushy way to keep the sales process moving. Giving the prospect even the smallest call to action will encourage the progression of the sale.

The biggest problem with an outreach email (assuming you have grabbed the prospect’s attention and gotten them to read it) is that it’s a one-way communication document and does not allow a mutual connection. Even follow up emails, after the prospect has responded, are less personal than a phone call, even if it only lasts a few minutes.

Email or Instant Message (IM)?

Only use IM or other forms of social media to connect if you have a very strong relationship with the prospect. Although these methods enable instantaneous communication and are more personal than a cold email, IMs are considered by many to be intrusive.

Always let the prospect initiate communication via social media. If they say, “IM me with those new figures as soon as you work them up,” do so; but don’t go on to flood them with a constant stream of “hot-off-the-press” information.

Should I Use Humor in a Prospecting Email?

The second and third sales prospecting email should have some humor. Tasteful humor can make your follow ups more personable and set you apart. Some examples:

  • Trying to reach you is harder than getting my kids to call me back.
  • Please let me know if you want to have a quick conversation regarding your challenges in the next few quarters.
  • Please hit the reply button. It’s that little blue thing on the screen right now and you can use it.

Follow up emails are inherently more personal than an initial email, since you are at least in the process of building a connection with the prospect. Thus, humorous email prospecting can allow you to form a better connection with the prospect.

How to End a Sales Email

Prospecting emails should not end in a company announcement or a business value statement. Instead, a sales prospecting email should end with a question like, “would you be interested in a quick call to discuss [relevant pain point]?” Sales professionals should prioritize making some sort of mutual connection beyond the prospecting email.

Further, when deciding how to end a sales email, you should remember the importance of your email signature. Your email signature should include information about your position and your company name. You can even use your email signature as a way to incorporate a final call to action.

Final Thoughts

Sales reps can use emails to contact their target market remotely, generate leads, and create a personal connection. Good prospecting emails take into account the prospect’s pain points and encourages follow ups to further discuss the product or service.

Sales prospecting emails should not have generic subject lines beginning with the company name or include only company news as the main purpose of the email outreach. Follow up emails should use insight selling and a relevant sales pitch to create interesting content for the prospect.

If a prospecting email does not fit the situation, use a blog or social media post to draw attention to your product or service. A successful sales team knows when to use email prospecting and when to use another method, like a quick call, to create mutual contact with their target.

About the author

Skip Miller is President of M3 Learning, a ProActive Sales Management and Sales Training Company based in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Skip Miller

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