Killing It with Email: Sales Email Template Best Practices

Every inside sales rep knows the value of sales emails for prospecting, nurturing and following up as part of the sales process. Last year, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. Yet as time saving as email can be, crafting effective emails when starting from scratch and trying to find just the right words can also be time consuming.

Creating email templates that can be used repeatedly can help to streamline your time and effort. Notice we said templates as in plural. That’s because one sales email template won’t work for each type of recipient. A better approach is to develop email templates for different stages of the sales cycle. New prospects and those already in the sales funnel are looking for different things, therefore a message that works for one would likely not work for the other. Or consider the difference between how you’d write for a prospect vs. an existing customer. They are in completely different stages of the sales cycle, requiring a different message to be effective.

Creating an email template
Your first step is to create a basic email template that you’ll later customize for different audiences (see below). Keep in mind these key points as you get started:

  • Focus on your audience: Content and messaging needs to be specific and relevant to the title or role you are targeting. For example, a VP has different priorities and pain points than a first level manager.
  • Spend some time on your subject line: Keep it short but compelling. An ideal subject line is about 5 words long with an exact description of what the reader will get when they open the email. Subject lines have the highest open rate when they include a statistic or pain point. 33% of email recipients open emails based on subject line alone so make your subject line powerful.
  • Develop a compelling first sentence: The first sentence plays an important role in getting your email opened. The first sentence, or about 80-characters, can be seen in most email clients before opening the email. This is another good place to include (or reiterate) a pain point or statistic.
  • Short and simple body: Keep the message body to less than five sentences, preferably less than 160 words. Include a clear and easy to act on call-to-action within the body the correlates with the message.
  • Be personable: Write to the person as a colleague or friend—less formal and more personal. Emails are usually more receptive when they are more casual because it shows you are human.

Different email templates for different types of recipients
Once you’ve started creating a sales email template, the next step is to customize each of your templates by recipient type, so they’ll be more effective for each audience. This is definitely worth the effort. Your emails will yield a higher ROI if they are targeted rather than generic. Below we have three of the most common types of people you’re probably emailing as a sales rep, with tips for customizing your sales email template for each:

1. Prospects
Keep in mind that prospects probably don’t know or trust you or your brand yet. Your email will be of a lower priority in the inbox as a result, so the first 20 words or so of your email must get their attention right away. This can often be done by asking a question, mentioning a pain point, or perhaps calling attention to a startling statistic.

Next, the body of your email should clearly state the benefits of your product or service. Go back to Sales 101 and ask yourself, “Why should the prospect be interested in my offer?” If your email templates are sent to people who have opted in to a newsletter or trial run, remind them they have opted in and reiterate the benefits they were offered at signup. This is all content that can be a standard part of your templates, saving you from having to write from scratch each time.

In addition, to customize messages for prospects and make sure you’re saying the right things to the right people, you need to learn about them before customizing your email. Use your usual resources to do the research (such as corporate websites, LinkedIn and Twitter). Also look for mutual contacts in order to learn more about the prospect and their company. Armed with this knowledge, personalize the message in the email template to make it relevant to that person, and focus on their needs and wants that your solution can help with—not your sales pitch.

2. People you’re following up with
The follow-up process is likely the most vital in your current sales process. Sales don’t usually happen after the first touch so taking the time to nurture and build your relationship with the prospect is crucial. Make sure when you’re following up that your messaging is relevant to the specific title/role you are targeting. As we said above, VPs and sales reps have different pain points. A template here is very useful to begin drafting your email, but make sure you’ve tailored it to the wants and needs of your audience.

Address the recipient with some familiarity and give a quick recap of your last conversation or the way you reached out to them last. This is content you’ll likely need to customize each time as you connect and talk to each prospect differently. Your opening should differ from what you send new prospects because anyone you’re following up with has now heard of your business. Provide additional information about the product or service they’ve expressed interest in. And change your call to action now that you’re following up rather than prospecting: Maybe encourage them to ask more questions about your business, download a value-add piece of content to show your credibility or sign them up for a free trial.

3. Existing customers
For those people who are already customers, the first words of your email template should be crafted differently because these people are already aware of your business (just like with your follow-up email described above). In addition, they’ve already bought from you. Give them some additional value in this email. Your sales email template should acknowledge and thank them for their previous purchase, update them on new products or benefits, and share with them new pieces of value-add content to help them stay up-to-date on current industry news.

In your closer, your CTA should be different from your other kinds of templates. The recipients who are buying customers already have your contact information so encourage them to ask questions about your business.

If you don’t think you should email existing customers because they already know about you and bought from you—and therefore you’d only be annoying them—keep in mind that 91% of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with.

And if you don’t get a response?

Even the best email templates customized for a particular recipient can get ignored in the inbox. So you might want to include second emails in your arsenal of templates, to send if the first one flops. If you don’t receive a reply to your first email, try again. You have a 21% chance of getting a reply to the second email outreach. Still no reply? Take heart and keep sending: There’s still a 25% chance that you will eventually hear back from the recipient.

People are inundated with emails on a daily basis. If your message doesn’t resonate with them as something relevant to their concerns, it’s likely to be ignored. Take this as a hint to change the messaging and personalization. Maybe with this change, your email will be read.

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