Your best salespeople are known for their silver tongues, but in this day and age they also need to have “silver fingers.” Many prospects, especially the powerful millennial contingent, feel more comfortable receiving texts and emails than cold calls. That means your salespeople need to be as fluent in pixels as they are in words.

When done right, a well-crafted sales email can grab a prospect’s attention and warm them up for a follow-up sales call. That email may even inspire them to pick up the phone and give your salesperson a call. Sales funnel specialist Jeremy Reeves explains, “Working on your writing might not seem . . . flashy or trendy. And to be sure, it’s an investment of time and money. But like any sound investment, it can impact your bottom line in rich, rewarding ways.”

In an environment where it’s easy for prospects to delete emails, your salespeople must find words that resonate in order to rise above the noise. Here are five sales email best practices to teach your sales team.

Tip One: Grab Them with the Subject Line 

The subject line is, arguably, the most important part of an email. It the first thing the recipient will see and, if it doesn’t do its job, the only thing they’ll see. You can’t sell a golden ticket, much less your product, if the prospect doesn’t open your email.

Short and sweet is the name of the email subject game. You don’t explain who you are, why your company is great, and what you want the prospect to do in the subject line: Your one and only goal is to intrigue them so that they’ll click the open button. Consider writing a subject line that is a tease or makes an unusual promise.

For example, the Savage Race, a company that hosts obstacle course races (where racers usually end up covered in mud) sent out a holiday email with this subject line: “25% off. Keep the change you filthy animals!” The subject line is short, but it clearly states an intriguing offer (25% off a race that typically costs over $100) and adds humor that appeals to the hard-charging weekend warriors that make up its primary audience.

Remember that your audience will be checking email on a range of devices, from computers to tablets, phones, and even watches. Keep the subject line short. Furthermore, the folks over at PersistIQ suggest writing your subject line last—after you’ve written the body of the email. This allows you to craft a subject line that encompasses the value prospect of the email. 

Email Wizard Tip: Your email subject is too important to leave to chance. Embrace the power of A/B testing: Craft several email subject options and test them as you send your pitch to different prospects. Analyze your results. Study what works and what doesn’t. Figure out what types of words, character counts, and phrasing ups your open rate.

Tip Two: Be Mindful of the Opener

While your email’s subject line is undeniably important, your salespeople can’t afford to ignore the opener. The opener is what the recipient sees in their inbox: the subject line of the email plus the first 20 words or so of the email itself. Geoffrey James at Inc.com explains, “If the opener is intriguing, the email gets opened; if the opener is boring, the email is skipped or deleted.”

The opener of your email has to achieve the same goal of your email subject line; it needs to intrigue your prospect enough that they ignore the other 122 emails sitting in their in box and click on yours. It also has to at least hint at the value proposition you offer in the body of the email.

Email Wizard Tip: If A/B testing works for your email subject line, you can bet A/B testing will help you determine your best opener. It’s surprising how few salespeople test their openers. With testing and analysis, you can find out which openers lead to more email opens.

Tip Three: Make It Relevant

Sending a random email to a random person has as much a chance of working as picking a random name out of the phone book (remember those?) and trying to sell that person a Zamboni machine. Remind your sales team that when crafting the body of your email, your first responsibility is to quickly and clearly indicate why you are targeting the specific person. Jeremy Reeves adds, “With each sentence you write, ask yourself, ‘So what?’ If a prospect is reading your message and is saying this to themselves, you’ve lost the sale.”

Tailoring your email goes far beyond using someone’s name in the greeting. Did the person download an ebook on your website? Did you meet them at a tradeshow? Were they referred by another client? Mention this information and take the next step by explaining why your product or service is specifically relevant to them. It can be as easy as this:

Hello Katy,

You are receiving this email because you recently downloaded our free ebook, How to Find a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor. We know there are many home remodeling companies in Alberta, but now you have a great guide on how to evaluate and compare different companies. One big tip the book gives is to call and speak to past customers of any contractor you may hire.

We at XYZ Remodeling Company would love to compete for your business! If you are interested, I would be happy to give you the contact information for some of our previous customers. That way you can talk to them and get a homeowner’s perspective on the quality of our work, communication style, and reliability.

This pitch explains right away why Katy received this email: She recently downloaded an ebook, which indicates that she’s likely in the market for a remodel. The email then highlights Katy’s pain point, then offers to help Katy better evaluate the XYZ Remodeling Company by giving her references. The body of the email is short but, based on her action of downloading the ebook, every sentence is relevant to Katy.

The easiest way to ensure accuracy when personalizing your email is to reference your CRM so you know where in the funnel your recipient is, and what actions they’ve taken. Provide the right next steps specific to the people you emailed, based on data, and you’ll find your emails are more effective and your contacts more engaged.

Tip Four: Be Genuine

Writing an email that is relevant to your audience is good. Writing an email that is relevant and genuine is imperative. At the end of the day, we humans need real connections. Your prospects and customers are smart, and they know you want to make a sale, but that doesn’t mean they want to be treated like faceless wallets. Reeves puts it simply: “We’re now in a trust-based economy, and if you want to stand out, you must be trustworthy.”

How can you be trustworthy? Show genuine interest in the prospect’s challenges. Be helpful before you sell. Here’s another rendition of the remodeling company’s email:

Hello Katy,

I’m emailing you because you recently downloaded our free ebook, How to Find a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor. I hope you found the booklet helpful and that you feel more confident as you begin your search for a remodeling contractor.

I know there are many home remodeling companies here in Alberta, and it can be challenging comparing bids. That’s why we offer to review up to three different remodeling bids with you as a free service. We’ll help you understand all the costs and answer your questions.

Most of the time our bids come out on top during these comparisons. But our goal is simply to help you make an informed decision so you can get the greatest value for your budget.

Please contact me if you are interested in setting up a free bid review.

As you can see, this email is different from the previous version. The tone is warmer and more personal. The purpose of the email is also to offer the prospect a free service, not to sell the company or its services. Hopefully, Katy will feel like XYZ Remodeling Company really does want to help her achieve the best remodeling experience, and this will give them an advantage when she makes her ultimate decision.

Tip Five: One Strong Call to Action

Your salespeople aren’t just sending out an email to see how their prospects are doing. They want them to take some sort of action. Just by opening your email, your prospect has already jumped over one big hurdle, but you need them to continue to move further down the sales funnel.

Think very carefully about the next action you want prospects to take and how that action plays into the customer journey. Your email should end in a clear call to action (CTA) that is relatively easy to complete. PersistIQ suggests, “The bottom line is don’t make it hard for them to say yes—make it dead simple and easy.” For example, an introductory email probably isn’t the right time to try and sell your most expensive product. Instead, consider inviting a prospect to attend a free webinar to learn more about your product, try a 30-day free trial of your service, or contact you for a free consultation or assessment. No matter the CTA, everything in your email should help move the prospect to that point.

Email Wizard Tip: Only include one call to action in your email. If you ask your prospect to download an ebook, watch a video on your website, like your Facebook page, and call you to set up a consultation, don’t be surprised when your prospect chooses, “None of the above.”

Time to Get Emailing

When you equip your salespeople with these best practices, they will almost surely see higher open rates, more clicks, and better engagement from prospects. Your salespeople can unleash their emails’ true potential by writing compelling subject lines, using strong openers, tailoring each email to the individual, showing genuine focus and care and, finally, by leading prospects to a clear and simple call to action. When your salespeople are great on the phone, in person, and in pixels, they’re a triple threat.

Writing powerful emails to prospects is just one aspect of ensuring sales success. Learn more ways to boost your sales team’s efforts with our eBook, available at the link below.

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