You just received a fresh lead from marketing, and it’s time for you to send a compelling sales email. But how do you effectively start a conversation that will eventually result in a closed deal?
After all, the average recipient gets nearly 150 emails a day and deletes close to half of them. If you want to make an impact, your emails need to stand out from the crowd. It’s certainly doable and worth the effort—the average return on sales emails is $38 for every dollar invested. That’s huge revenue potential.
With the right sales email examples as your inspiration, you can craft the kind of messages that capture your readers’ attention and increase your chances of making a sale.
How to write a sales email that stands out
Before jumping straight into sales email examples, let’s take a look at what constitutes a well-written sales email.
The most successful sales emails are focused on the customer and their needs. That means personalizing every aspect of the message, from the subject line to the CTA. It’s also important to ensure you’re reaching out to the right prospects. Be smart about who you target and how you target them in your sales emails.
Write engaging subject lines
“The subject line is important because it’s the first thing people see when they open your email,” says Courtney Gupta, community engagement specialist and former SMB account executive at Zendesk. “Make sure your entire subject line is visible on desktop and mobile. It also helps to include the prospect’s name, a short question, or an idea about something specific to their needs.”
Use nongeneric opening lines
Your email subject line may have gotten you past the front door, but now your opening line needs to encourage the recipient to keep reading.
Try to open with personalized lines such as, “I loved your blog post...” or “I was excited to hear about your company’s product launch…” You may also be able to tailor your opening line by referencing the recipient’s new role, their competitor’s recent actions, or a mutual connection. If you can’t get too personal, citing a relevant statistic could catch their attention.
Just be sure to skip the generic “Hi, my name is...” intro, which wastes time and isn’t customized to the reader.
“Make the email as personalized as possible,” Gupta advises. “Research the person: Look at their LinkedIn or website and try to add personal bits of information. Or, make the email personal to their company. You can mention if they got funding or comment about an article you read about them. Prospects get so many emails every day, so you need to do something that doesn’t look like it’s an automated, general email.”
Tailor the body length to your audience
An oft-cited Boomerang study concluded that “emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%.” However, more recent research by Prospect.io found that sales emails with roughly 300 words had much better response rates than those with fewer than 100 words.
It largely depends on your recipient—a concise, cold email to a busy exec can be a good way to get your foot in the door. But if you’re targeting a high-ticket B2B purchase (or writing to someone who shares a common acquaintance), a longer, more detailed email can help establish a relationship.
Regardless of who you’re targeting, be sure the body of your email is to the point and extremely digestible.
Avoid talking about yourself
An email recipient wants to know what you can do for them, not how wonderful you and your company are. Look at your contact’s website and social media pages to learn everything you can about their needs and interests. That way, you can tailor your sales email accordingly.
Include a clear call to action and next steps
Don’t make the reader guess what they should do next. Do you want to present a demo? Discuss your offering during a quick call? Provide direction for the prospect to keep the conversation going.
Gupta explains, “You always want to end the email with a question or statement that’s not just a yes or no answer. Don’t ask: ‘Does this work for you?’ Try to make it an open-ended question like, ‘How do you feel about us talking on Monday?’ and include a calendar invite. Focus on a call to action that encourages the prospect to respond or do something actionable.”
Send the email at the right time
Timing is everything when it comes to sales emails, according to Gupta.
“Look for key moments like when the company gets funding, if it acquires another company, if there are leadership changes, if it launches a new product, or if the person you’re emailing gets promoted,” she says.
Add value with a follow-up email
There’s a good chance you won’t get a reply at first, and that’s OK. Persistence pays off: Ambition.com was able to boost its cold email response rate from 1 percent to 12.6 percent by sending follow-up emails.
Even if you do get a response, follow-ups are essential to continuing the conversation. But remember that each sales email should display the same level of personalization—nothing kills a connection faster than a one-size-fits-all message.
Instead, try to add value with every follow-up email you send, especially if you’re trying to get someone’s attention. If a contact goes quiet, don’t pester them with “just checking in” emails. Send them something that might interest them, whether it’s a helpful article, a recent industry study, or some other resource.
Keeping these best practices in mind, let’s analyze some sales emails and why they work.
Key components of the best sales emails
6 winning examples of sales emails done right
Sales email example #1: An experiment with 1,000 cold emails reveals short subject lines win
The average office worker receives hundreds of emails a day. The sales email subject line is your opportunity to stand out and prove that your email is worth opening. Shane Snow, an author and co-founder of Contently, and Jon Youshaei, Instagram’s product marketing manager, performed an experiment to determine what type of subject line and sales email would get a response from busy executives.
First, they gathered the email addresses of 1,000 of the busiest business people in America, including 500 VPs and C-suite executives from the Fortune 500 as well as 500 C-level execs from the Inc. 500. Then, they wrote 10 variations of a simple email asking for the executives’ opinions on cold emails. Here, you can see one of the most successful versions:
The two subject lines they tested were “Quick Question” (51-percent open rate) and “15 Second Question for Research on Annoying Emails”(48-percent open rate). Although the open rate was nearly the same for both emails, the “Quick Question” subject line had double the response rate, accounting for 66.7 percent of all replies.
Why it’s effective
“Quick Question” is short and direct—two elements of a good subject line. The ideal length for a subject line is around 41 characters (or roughly seven words). Not only do succinct subject lines scan more quickly, but they’re also less likely to get cut off when displayed on mobile devices.
Sales email example #2: Pique a reader’s interest with an intriguing question
Successful sales email subject lines aren’t just short—they’re also compelling. But how do you pique someone’s interest with only a few words? Sometimes a quick, cryptic question can do the trick.
The B2B lead generation service CIENCE reviews thousands of emails for its clients, curating lists of good (and bad) sales email examples. One of the best emails perfectly demonstrates how to write a compelling subject line:
The sender uses the subject line “How do you pay [name of employee]?” and asks about a remote hire who’s based in a country different from the email recipient’s company. The seemingly odd question then sets up a discussion about the potential challenges associated with international workers (compliance issues, money transfers, and so on). Finally, the sender reveals that their company can provide a solution to those pain points.
Why it’s effective
Imagine you manage the employee being name-dropped in the subject line. Wouldn’t seeing their name catch your attention? And wouldn’t the out-of-left-field question make you a little curious? A provocative subject line is sometimes all it takes to persuade someone to open and read your sales email.
Of course, you don’t want to come across as spammy or creepy. Try to strike a level of personalization that shows you’ve researched your prospect but not invaded their privacy.
Sales email example #3: A personalized intro doubles reply rate
Along with the subject line, the opening line is a critical component that sales reps often get wrong. Using an opening line such as “My name is Brad” sounds like it’s from a generic template, which can negatively affect your response rate.
The best sales emails resonate because they speak directly to the reader. Marketing analytics software company Directive Consulting learned that lesson when it tried to boost the reply rate for its guest-blogger outreach. Of the 20 to 50 emails sent per week, the team was only receiving two to four positive replies.
Here is the company’s initial, poor-performing email script:
The example above features a bland, impersonal introductory line. It then segues into a long, boring explanation of who the sender is and what their company does.
But Directive tried a more creative variation of the same message. In the newer version, the subject line is more intriguing, and the sender’s picture and bio replace the original introduction:
Thanks to the new sales email template, Directive’s reply rate increased from 8 percent to 16 percent.
Why it’s effective
The opening line is made more personal by using the words “you” and “your” (which are more engaging for the reader than “I” and “we”). It also gets straight to the point: “I am emailing you because I would love the opportunity to create a piece of content for your blog.” The line invites the reader to go further if they want to learn more.
Meanwhile, the sender’s bio has been turned into an image, so it’s no longer taking up valuable real estate in the body of the email.
Sales email example #4: LeadFuze’s cold email formula grows revenue
People are busy. Many don’t have the time or the attention span to read lengthy emails that beat around the bush. If your message is too long-winded, readers may bail before they even reach your CTA.
According to LeadFuze’s founder, Justin McGill, the best sales emails employ the “QVC Formula” to keep the copy concise. Ask a question (Q), present your value proposition (V), and then include a clear call to action (C).
Take a look at one of LeadFuze’s sales email examples to see how the three-step process plays out:
Notice how the email draws the reader’s attention without drowning them in text. The entire message can be read in less than 30 seconds.
LeadFuze’s cold email approach has paid off: In just one year, the company used cold emails to increase company revenue to $30K per month.
Why it’s effective
The body of the email is fewer than 70 words. It asks a quick question, presents the pain point LeadFuze can solve, and then asks for a meeting—personal, short, and effective.
Two other great elements of this email? The subject line asks a simple, compelling question: “Need some more leads?” And there’s a P.S. at the end: “If you aren’t the right person to speak to about this, let me know. Also, if you’d rather I not follow up with you – you can let me know that too!” This is an efficient way of covering all your bases in case you’re not reaching out to the right prospect.
Sales email example #5: Jake Jorgovan’s personalized sales emails generate $12K
A good rule of thumb for making any sale? It’s not about you—it’s about the customer. Creative strategist Jake Jorgovan took this lesson to heart and crafted personalized cold emails (rather than sending batches of generic emails). His approach worked, generating roughly $12K total.
The following email landed Jorgovan a $4,250 client:
Why it’s effective
Before sending his emails, Jorgovan researched his target market to make sure the message was relevant to the recipient. Notice how the second paragraph of the email shows that Jorgovan is already familiar with the reader’s needs. Reviewing your buyer persona will help you create personalized emails that speak to the prospect’s pain point.
Jorgovan also included a case study to back up the claims he made about his company. His advice? Ensure the study you choose is relevant to the prospects you’re emailing.
Sales email example #6: Crazy Eye Marketing’s calls to action increase reply rate
A pushy sales email (e.g., Buy my product!) is a great way to end up in the trash folder. Crazy Eye Marketing experimented with the opposite—a low-pressure CTA.
The company ran a cold email campaign for a small mobile app business. Working with 4,897 email addresses, they composed five different email series to determine the best sales email sequence.
The most effective one? A three-email sequence with clear CTAs. The first email in the series asked for only 15 minutes of the reader’s time. The other emails asked recipients to respond to a “strange question,” call the sender, or purchase the app. None performed as well as the “15-minute” CTA, which presented the easiest and most unambiguous ask.
Here is the first email of the series:
And here are the final results of the campaign:
Why it’s effective
The reader knows exactly what to do at the end of the email (say yes or no to a 15-minute meeting), and the request is a small ask.
Another great lesson from this case study is to keep sending emails, even if you don’t receive a response initially. Forty-four percent of sales reps give up after the first email, but 80 percent of sales require at least four follow-ups. So, reach out to your contacts more than once. In the experiment above, it was the second email that experienced the best reply rate.
How do you know if your sales emails are working?
The most effective way to evaluate sales emails is to track them. If you use a CRM to schedule and send each sales email, you should be able to easily gauge the results. For example, Zendesk Sell helps you monitor when and how often your emails are opened and provides insights into the success of different campaigns.
There are several metrics to keep an eye on and compare.
As its name implies, the open rate measures the percentage of recipients who opened an email. A high open rate indicates that your subject line is compelling and your brand is recognizable. If your email’s open rate is sky high but its reply or click rate is low, then you may need to overhaul your email copy.
Open-rate formula: (Total unique opens ÷ Total recipients) x 100
This measures the number of responses an email received against the number of emails sent. Reply rate is one of the most revealing metrics for determining whether or not your email copy resonates with your prospects. Most prospects don’t even open their emails, so if you can persuade them to respond to you, you’ve successfully piqued their interest.
Reply-rate formula: (Unique replies ÷ Total emails delivered) x 100
Positive reply rate
The positive reply rate reflects the percentage of responses that expressed interest in a product or message. A prospect who seems eager to connect with you or wants to move on to the next steps is an indicator that you’re doing something right. If one of your emails receives a high positive reply rate, try to emulate its key elements in all your other sales emails.
Positive reply-rate formula: (Unique positive replies ÷ Total emails delivered) x 100
Click-to-open rate (CTOR)
CTOR is the percentage of unique recipients who click through to your website after they open your email. It divides the number of clicks by the number of opened emails rather than the total number of delivered emails. This metric accounts only for the people who read your email and take action, making it a better indicator of engagement and resonance than click-through rate.
CTOR formula: (Unique clicks ÷ Unique opens) x 100
The objections rate represents the percentage of recipients who express they’re not interested in your product or service. If your email has a high reply rate, but many prospects say they don’t have the budget or time right now, then you’ve most likely captured their attention but haven’t yet resonated with them.
While this situation isn’t ideal, you can still turn some objections into conversions by forging a genuine relationship with prospects. Help them meet their needs without asking for anything in return. And be persistent.
Objections-rate formula: (Unique objections ÷ Total emails delivered) x 100
This metric shows the number of positive responses from qualified leads. Receiving a lot of replies can feel great, but if the prospects aren’t qualified for your product or service, then what’s the point of continuing the conversation? Always measure lead quality to ensure you’re reaching out to the right caliber of contacts.
Qualifications formula: Unique qualified prospects who replied ÷ Total emails delivered
An unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who choose to opt out of your mailing list. A high rate suggests that your sales email isn’t relevant or that you’re sending too many emails to certain prospects. If one of your emails receives a high unsubscribe rate, then tear it out of your playbook.
Unsubscribe-rate formula: (Number of unsubscribes ÷ Total emails delivered) x 100
Write a sales email prospects will respond to
The best sales emails often take time to hone. With the aforementioned sales email examples as your inspiration, you can start crafting a compelling message to that fresh lead from marketing. Then, test and refine your messages to discover what works.
If you have a CRM like Zendesk Sell, you can create and save unlimited sales email templates and customize them for specific prospects with our email automation tools. You can also use integrations such as Mailchimp to test email variations—for instance, different subject lines and CTAs—to see which ones are the most effective.
Our robust solution enables you to easily track and measure the performance of your sales emails so you can learn what makes each message more successful than the last. Sign up for a free trial to see what Zendesk Sell can do for your sales emails.