Cold email writing is one of our most popular sales coaching topics, in large part because of the mystery that surrounds successful campaigns. It can be tricky figuring out which subject line, CTA, or message performs best–especially when tweaking a word or two can drastically change your response rate.
In reality, there’s no magic formula. But the best outbound sales emails do share a few common characteristics: they’re clear, concise, relevant, and personal. Below we’ll walk you through how to master each of these traits and share our best tips to increase your reply rates!
The 4 traits of a successful outbound sales email
First and foremost, outbound sales emails need to be clear. The prospect is likely unfamiliar with your company and you don’t want to lose their interest to confusion. Outbound sales campaigns should use more conversational language than marketing; avoid jargon, and ask yourself whether or not your email reads like something you would say in real life.
Avoid stealing phrases from your company’s website and go for a more casual tone (try starting with “hey” instead of “hello”). Your prospects receive dozens or even hundreds of cold emails a day, so you don’t want to make them think too hard. Introduce yourself, and ask for what you want directly, with clear, specific language.
Generally speaking, the fewer words in your outbound sales email, the better. Keep it simple and to the point. Humorous or unique email copy can run a bit longer, but be careful not to overestimate your sense of humor.
Subject lines should be no longer than four words and relevant to the rest of the message. Ideally, your body copy should contain the same words as the subject line, so the prospect doesn’t feel like you’ve pulled a bait and switch.
The ideal length for outbound sales emails is less than 100 words, but if you can cut it down to less than 50, even better! This is true across all industries–if your product takes longer than 100 words to explain, it means you haven’t found the right messaging.
Relevance builds trust in outbound sales emails by making your prospect feel understood. It’s important to position your solution as relevant to something the prospect already wants, rather than try to convince them to want something new.
Once you know what your prospect wants, research how they talk about it. What language do they use to describe their goals? Use this information to position your solution in the context of what they’re trying to do.
The more specific you can be here, the better. Using relevant language will make your prospect feel like you truly understand their business problem.
One other thing to keep in mind is that your prospect may already have a solution in place. If that’s the case, then acknowledge that and gently point out some of the problems they may be experiencing with that solution (without attacking their choice to go with a competitor).
Before writing your next outbound sales email, try answering this question from your prospect’s point of view: “Why me, why now?”. If the prospect opens an email that could have easily been addressed to hundreds of other people, they’re unlikely to respond.
The prospect wants to feel like you put some effort into understanding them. Again, research is key here. Learn how your prospects talk about their problem, either through interviewing them, asking colleagues who share the same title, or browsing relevant job postings.
Use “you” focused language to empower them as the hero of this story. Empower them to solve their own problems, rather than portraying yourself as the rescuer. One way to do this is to appeal to their emotions by referencing a part of their job that they hate. If your solution can remove that dreaded task, you’ll have the prospect’s attention.
Are you having trouble writing outbound sequences that actually get responded to and generate revenue? Our coaching team can help you write emails that convert your prospects repeatedly and predictably. Book a free discovery call!
What’s in it for me? Remember the rule of is, does, means
A helpful rule to keep in mind when writing outbound sales emails is the rule of is, does, means: no one cares what your product is, a few people will care a bit about what it does, but everyone will care about what it means for them.
Let’s use Slack as an example:
- What it is: a communication software
- What it does: lets you communicate with others in various chat channels
- What it means: you can communicate with your team in real-time, with no need to wait for someone to respond to your email
Applying this rule to outbound sales emails means you should always focus on what your solution means to the prospect, rather than what it is or what it does.
Tips for personalizing outbound sales emails
There is a right way and a wrong way to approach personalization in outbound sales emails. Too often, reps grab the first piece of information they can find (like where a prospect went to school) and insert it blindly into the email without context, before transitioning abruptly into a sales pitch. Don’t be that person!
The best personalization is based on content the prospect created or engaged with recently. If you can find a post they engaged with that’s relevant to your company, even better.
If you can’t find any relevant content, look for hobbies, interests, or company news–but always be sure to tie this into the rest of your email with a strong transition. Lastly, if you have no other information to go off, you can personalize the message based on their persona and industry, but this should only be done after you’ve exhausted all other options.
Outbound sales email checklist
Use this checklist quickly assess your cold emails and identify any areas for improvement. And keep it handy the next time you need to write an outbound sales message!
Is it clear?
- Does it use simple language?
- Does it clearly state how the prospect’s world can be better?
- Is the CTA easy to implement?
- Does the email flow naturally?
Is it concise?
- Have you deleted all words that don’t enhance meaning or add emotional impact?
- Is the subject line short and punchy?
- Does it sound like a real person?
Is it relevant?
- Does it speak in the prospect’s language about something they already want?
- Is the language you-focused?
- Does it evoke emotions and paint a picture?
- Does it focus on what the solution means?
- Is the focus on opportunity cost?
Is it personal?
- Does it answer the question “Why me, why now?”
- Will the prospect think “this was intended specifically for me”?
- Does the personalization fit into the context of the message?
Final thoughts on writing outbound sales emails
There are few sales skills as critical as mastering the outbound sales email. But like any skill, it can be learned; keeping your emails clear, concise, relevant, and personal will drastically improve your chances of a reply.
The tips in this book will help you navigate a better outbound process, one that focuses on human connection over quotas. Because ironically, focusing on your prospect instead of the sale will make you a more successful sales rep.