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How to write a sales email that actually works

by | 3rd May 2023

Found at the heart of every great sales email is its ability to generate conversation from nothing. As lead generators, we have to consider that the B2B prospect doesn’t always know they need what’s offered yet, and is already on the receiving end of 100s of messages every day. Only a few of these will ever be opened, even less will be read and acted upon. It’s our job to stand out.

So, how do you write a sales email that not only engages, but gets read and responded to? It sounds like a tough task, but don’t worry, in this guide we will support you through this process, from crafting an intriguing subject line, to creating a converting call-to-action. It’s all here.

 

To write a good sales email, you need these 5 things:

To make things as straightforward as possible, we’ll break down the process of writing a stand-out sales email into 5 key steps. These are:

  • The subject line
  • Your opening line
  • The body copy (your hook)
  • A call-to-action
  • A professional signature

This is a great place to start, but it’s not enough to just have these 5 things in your sales email. To create the engagement you need, each of these steps needs to be examined in closer detail – we’ll also include a few examples, so you can see how it looks.

Engage curiosity with an effective subject line

Your subject line is where you make your first impression. It’s the first thing your new prospect will see and is the catalyst that helps them to decide if they will engage with what you want to say — and what you’re selling.

Yes, you want to make a statement, but you have to be careful. You’re treading a fine line between standing out and becoming spam.

For one, you must be mindful of your spelling and punctuation. A mistake in your subject is a massive turn-off. It signifies to the reader that you just don’t care for the details.

Another is to avoid any misleading statements or any attention grabbing (clickbait-y) lines.

A subject line likely to be flagged as spam
A subject line that creates intrigue

These only serve to frustrate the reader. No one wants to open an email with the promise of finding the next best thing since sliced bread, but instead, finding a couple of old stale rolls. If the initial subject line hasn’t already put you in the spam folder, this certainly will.

If you want to write a sales email that sells, you want to write like a real person. Think about it, you want to engage with the reader on a personal level, you’re not a walking advertising billboard, so don’t sound like one. That also means no catchy slogans and subject lines written in ALL CAPS (even title case can be a step too far). It’s just not how real people speak.

The trick here is to talk to the reader as if they’re an unfamiliar acquaintance. While you shouldn’t be overly formal, we wouldn’t recommend being overly friendly either – remember you don’t know them yet, and it’s business after all.

Grab attention in the opening lines

You’ve done a lot of the hard work in getting them to open the email. Now you have to back that up with opening lines that keep them reading.

You’re not writing a letter to a penpal, so we can avoid opening with “Dear”. This shouts over formality from the start, and most people are just going to see it as spam. Instead, begin with “Hi” or “Morning/Afternoon”. Keep it as though you’re talking to someone in real life. Remember, you’re approaching the reader as if this is just a normal conversation, and if someone greeted you as “Dear, [name]” you would think something was up.

Now that you have nailed down your greeting, it’s time to start constructing the rest of your opening.

With the first line, you’re going to want to be confident, but humble. We call it “Humble Confidence” at neptik. You approach it with the mindset of believing in what you’re selling, but also understanding that people’s time and effort comes at a premium.

 

Your subject line is there to convince them to open the email, the opening lines are there to keep them reading”

 

Consider this, your subject line is there to convince them to open the email, the opening lines are there to keep them reading. In your opening lines, you’re going to want to establish why you’re reaching out. This should offer a natural flow to the main body of your email, where you are going to deliver your hook.

3. Use the body copy to deliver your winning hook

The main body of your email is where you’ll include your hook, but don’t jump into anything just yet. You’re going to want to have an in-depth think about your primary goals (and what you want to achieve).

Let’s start with a sentence or two that really sells what you’re about. You’re going to want to approach this carefully. Steer clear of the day-to-day jargon you’re used to speaking and really put your mind to describing how your product/service will improve the prospect’s life. Just don’t give too much away, because you also want to generate enough intrigue to access the mental availability of your prospect (so they want to know more and reply). This is what makes you stand out from the others and gets you a response.

Rather than just selling your product/service (which has its place), you want to give enough information for the reader to start imagining how you can solve the issue you’re contacting them about.

Provide some additional info about your offering and business. Highlight your benefits and explain to the reader what makes you great, but you should always be striving to create a sense of interest—make them curious about how you can make their life both better and easier.

 

“Too many businesses try to start a conversation with a new prospect as if they’re already in the room pitching, the angle we use is to create enough intrigue to access the mental availability of the prospect.” – Ben Lambert, Founder, neptik

 

You should also be keeping a close eye on your email word count. We’re mentioning it now, but it will include your opening lines and call-to-action, too. As the adage goes, “you wrote it long, because you couldn’t be bothered to write it short.” So take your time and refine your copy. We suggest keeping it below 200 words if you can. Remember, your email only has a small window of time to impress and if it’s too long, it’s going to be ignored.

All of this will help encourage the reader to get in contact with you. Just as you did in the subject line, do this in a way that doesn’t sound like an advert. Keep it authentic, don’t use all caps, avoid using bold text, and remove those exclamation marks.

4. Close with a converting Call-to-Action

With a call-to-action, you don’t want to make the reader guess what they have to do next. You’ve put in all the hard work of getting them to open the email and interest them with your offer. The last thing you want is them moving on to the next task without interacting with you.

This is where the call-to-action comes in. Here you will provide the direction for the reader to keep the conversation flowing.

You want to finish the email in a way that it isn’t just a yes or no response. Make it an open-ended question. Your aim is to encourage the prospect to respond or do something actionable. Be specific about when to catch-up. Don’t just say next week, it sounds too generic. By proposing specific days you can personalise the email, tailoring it to the reader.

To make this task easier, at neptik we have created an algorithm to take out most of the effort (as we have with our subject lines). We find being specific with dates directs the prospect’s mind to check their availability and foster a sense of investment in a future conversation – and subsequently makes it more likely they’ll reply.

5. Sell with a professional signature

The signature is probably the most overlooked and undervalued element in your sales email. This area is incredibly valuable email real-estate which can help elevate your message when done right.

Your aim is to build credibility. Keep it short, simple and on-brand; remember to include your phone number and email address. You’ll also want to include a link to websites, socials and a brand icon.

The thing to remember here is it’s not a case of just adding in a signature as if you would in a normal email. Email service providers are more likely to direct your email to spam when you attach logo files and have multiple links. We tend to see a lot of emails getting around this without signatures, or plain text signatures.

The good news is, when you use neptik, we have a way of producing high-quality signatures that don’t end up in the spam folder. This lets you include the branding and imagery that makes you stand out from the rest.

Sales email examples

Example of a strong couple of opening lines
Example of what you should include in your email body
Example of strong call-to-action

Remember to follow-up

To tell you the truth, in our experience the first email isn’t usually the one that generates the most amount of responses. Think of the first email as getting your foot in the door. Typically, we find you’ll need to send a couple more before you get let into the room.

This is where the follow-up email comes into play. Send this with reference to your previous conversation and the action they should take to move them through the sales process. Make sure there is an obvious benefit to their action. Also, feel free to sprinkle in some more information about what you are offering to add value to the lead.

 

“Think of the first email as getting your foot in the door, you’re going to have to send a couple more before you get let into the room”

 

Just be careful with the frequency and amount of follow-ups you send. Send them too often and your reader will quickly become annoyed. Equally, if you leave it too long, you’ll be forgotten. Put yourself in their shoes. They’re busy people and the last thing they need is to see you in their inbox every couple of days.

Email variations

A clever way to send follow-up emails is by creating a set of content variations. With this method, you will write a series of templates which you can update and send on specific days. It’s a bit of a laborious task (not for the fainthearted), but the variations are key to getting high open rates.

The trick to this is diversifying your templates, where each day you send a version of the principal email and subsequent follow-ups (to a different recipient). This means similar word counts, call-to-actions, with the same tone of voice and narrative. Your differentials are found in the paragraph and sentence structure, as well as the words that make up those sentences. We can’t stress enough that this is a long task, which we not only throw a whole team behind, but a tailored algorithm too.

Sales doesn’t have to be a struggle

Whilst we’ve shared some key points on how to create compelling email content that’ll help you generate leads, this isn’t the full 11 herbs and spices. We’ve developed our process to fully consider the psychology of the prospect and have a 3 hour workshop with our clients to identify the exact words that work. There’s more to our recipe than just the ingredients (and a little secret sauce here and there).

What if you didn’t have to find the prospects, write, or reply to the emails? What if someone else could do all that heavy lifting for you? At neptik we help B2B businesses do just that. Want to find out more. Book a call with us now, save time and let your sales team do what they do best – sell!