Email prospecting provides some distinct advantages over other prospecting tactics. It’s less intrusive than cold calling and allows sellers to send personalized messages at scale, without compromising on quality.
According to a RAIN Group study, 80% of buyers say they prefer communicating with sales reps via email. A ChiefMarketer survey found that email produces the highest ROI compared to other prospecting channels.
Email might be the most effective prospecting channel, but standing out in a crowded inbox isn’t easy. Only about 24% of sales emails get opened, which means, most get ignored or tossed in the trash without a second thought.
In this article, I’ll share some prospecting email best practices, as well as seven templates that can help you start more conversations with qualified buyers.
Key elements of a “good” sales prospecting email
This is where your social selling skills will come in handy.
You’ll want to do some digging before you start sending out emails.
The goal is to gather up enough intel so that you can reference relevant information in your emails.
Start with the basic data points:
- Company Name
- Company size
- Years in business
- Products/services offered.
For longer sales cycles with multiple decision-makers, the more intel you can gather, the better.
In these situations, winning the deal depends on providing tailored solutions, and to do that, you really need to know your stuff.
Look for the following tidbits, so you’ll have more to work with when it comes time to build your templates.
- Colleague names & roles
- Demographic information
- Industry data
- Personal/professional interests
- Recently published content
- Alma mater
- Recent business accomplishments
- Recent posts revealing challenges or pain points
- Competitor information
Many people think prospecting is just a numbers game. The more emails you send, well, chances are, some prospects will take the bait.
That’s… not quite right.
Prospecting emails need to feel personal—bringing warmth to the cold email.
According to a study by the University of Texas, personalized content gives people a sense of control and makes them feel special. Another study found that personalizing subject lines can increase opens by up to 50%.
Building on my last point, your research will serve you well, here.
While it’s not realistic to craft a personalized email from scratch for every prospect, building a library of templates that speak to different scenarios provides a shortcut to creating a tailored message for every lead on your list.
Use the insights gleaned from your research process to add personal details to each template, allowing you to create a relevant, thoughtful message within minutes.
If your Salesforce is already full of leads with personal information attached, that’s even better. Software like Revenue Engage makes it easy to use merge fields in your templates, allowing you to quickly turn batches of automated emails into natural, personalized messages.
Subject lines capture the prospect’s attention
While it might sound like a small thing, subject lines are the gateway to your sales pitch. See, no one will open your email if the subject line is no good.
- Who are you talking to?
- What are your goals for this email?
- Is this person familiar with the company?
- Do you have any mutual connections?
- What would make someone want to open your email?
A few things to keep in mind while creating prospecting email subject lines:
- Include the recipient’s name in the subject line.
- Keep your subject lines short—the sweet spot is around 50-60 characters.
- Avoid spam triggers (here’s a list you can use for reference). Hint: “Buy Now,” “Great Offer” and anything related to the male enhancement industry are on the list.
They’re short, but not too short.
According to an analysis of more than 40M emails, messages containing 50-125 words get the best results—and more specifically, those that fell within the 75-100 range received the highest response rates — just over 50%, on average.
That said, don’t worry about word count too much.
Focus instead on explaining your offers, solutions and value props in plain terms—and avoid using more words than necessary.
7 prospecting email templates you can start using today
In these next few sections, I’ll provide a few prospecting email templates that speak to different sales scenarios and how to use them effectively.
1. PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solve)
PAS is a copywriting technique that uses a three-pronged approach to capture the reader’s attention.
- Problem. Identify a problem specific to your target buyer. See, this is why research is critical.
- Agitate. Once you’ve identified the problem, your next move is to evoke an emotional response from the prospect. Here, your job is to remind the prospect of why their problem is so frustrating.
- Solve. Then, once you’ve successfully re-opened that wound, you’ll present a solution for taking that pain away. End on a low-commitment, clear CTA.
I’ve noticed that your company is receiving negative reviews about [X].
I know it can be frustrating to see customers churn because of [problem] and [problem].
[Your solution] helps companies manage [A, B and C] from one central hub, making it easy to do [X, Y and Z].
Would you be interested in discussing how [your solution] can help you [solve problem]?
Why it works: This email opens with a personal touch and shows the reader that you’ve done your research and understand their situation.
Additionally, by highlighting a flaw that anyone might easily find on the first page of Google, you’re bringing a critical pain point front and center.
Assuming they don’t want this problem to be common knowledge, your prospect will be compelled to act on an easy solution in front of them.
The challenge here is, you’ll need to make sure you’ve really done your research. If the pain point you identify isn’t a big deal to the prospect, the whole thing falls apart.
2. Reference a company announcement
Okay, referencing a company announcement doesn’t necessarily require a lot of digging, especially if you’re chasing big fish in the industry.
However, company announcements are indicative of change—which means there’s often an opportunity to help prospects take on the new challenges that come with the territory.
“Hey [first name],
I came across your company while looking into [industry trend] and noticed that you recently [company action]. Congratulations on [big news].
Typically, when that happens, [x capability] becomes a top priority.
I thought you might want to learn how we helped [companies A & B] adjust to their new situation without any of the usual roadblocks that happen when companies [x].
If you’d like to learn more about how we can implement [solution], let’s set up a quick chat.
Does Wednesday at 10 am work for you?
Why it works: This template is useful because it speaks to new challenges a company might face when going through a significant change.
By bringing up how your solution can help them avoid the pitfalls other companies have faced before them, you’re presenting an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
AIDA is a classic advertising formula that identifies a series of cognitive stages a buyer goes through while evaluating a product or service. Here’s a quick breakdown of what happens at each stage:
- Attention. Capture your reader’s attention with a great subject line and opener.
- Interest. Next, you’ll want to translate that attention into genuine interest. The aim here is to convince the reader to learn more. In this case, that means getting prospects to read the entire email.
- Desire. Then, you’ll want to take that engagement to the next level using social proof, scarcity and highlighting key benefits to create a sense of desire. In other words, make them want your product/service.
- Action. And finally, you’ll need to seal the deal by including a compelling CTA that drives readers toward action.
You can also use this tactic to capture prospects’ attention in the inbox and get them excited about your solution.
Here’s an example of how you might work AIDA into an email template.
Are you looking for ways to scale your lead generation efforts?
In just six months, we’ve helped [A & B companies] achieve [X results] after implementing [your solution].
In addition to increasing the number of qualified leads, [your solution] has also helped [Company B] increase revenue and [Company A] streamline internal workflows.
I’d love to talk to you about how [your solution] could help your company achieve similar results.
Do you have some time to chat later this week?
Why it works: The AIDA formula works because each line in your email builds on the last, and generates more and more interest leading up to the CTA.
In this example, the opening line captures the reader’s attention by asking a question, then builds interest by mentioning how similar companies have solved the problem presented in the initial question.
From there, it turns interest into desire by highlighting a few more compelling benefits, then finishes off by inviting the buyer to set up a call.
4. Share some advice
Embrace your role as a “trusted advisor” and share some useful information with your prospect that speaks to how you can help solve their specific pain points.
Try something like this to break the ice:
In working with other [job title], we’ve found that they often struggle [top pain point].
In the past six months, we’ve helped a range of companies achieve [goal], which has resulted in
[gain—i.e., increased productivity, more revenue, cost savings].
We’ve seen a lot of success with [strategy]. From what I know about your business, here are a few ways you could implement [strategy] into your day-to-day workflow:
Do those challenges resonate with you? I’d love to share some ideas that could help.
Why it works: This example shows prospects that the seller understands the challenges someone in their position might typically face. It starts by highlighting a problem then positions the seller as an expert who has the right answers, using social proof and specific examples to make that value immediately clear.
It finishes off with a low-stakes CTA that makes it easy for the prospect to act–it sounds like a friendly conversation, rather than a hard sales pitch.
5. Share a useful resource
A cousin to the solutions-oriented template above, this email aims to start a conversation by relating to a challenge and presenting a useful article, blog post or another resource—in this case, one that wasn’t created by someone from your company.
Here’s how you might approach it:
Your recent [blog, social post, etc.] about [subject] got me thinking about [related topic].
I’ve also struggled with [pain point from prospect content] and came across this [link to resource] that you might find helpful. I hope you find this to be as useful as I did.
Why it works: Instead of jumping in with the specifics of how your solution solves the prospect’s problem, this template plants the seed in their mind that you know your stuff.
While you might have relevant resources in your internal archives, sharing insights from a neutral source can help build trust early on.
That way, prospects will likely be more receptive to your company’s solutions later on.
6. Ask for permission
Okay, this might run counter to everything you’ve learned about asserting yourself or projecting confidence as a seller but hear me out.
Asking for permission, allows you to present the “next step” as a friendly conversation and gives the prospect a sense of control.
For example, you might send a short email like this to start the conversation.
I’m reaching out because I have several ideas for bringing in more leads and ultimately closing more deals every month.
Would it be okay for me to reach out next week to share those ideas with you?
Why it works: This template works because the opening line suggests that you’re offering something of value to your prospect.
7. Highlight a mutual connection
Prospecting emails are essentially a nicer way to say “cold emails,” so anything you can do to warm things up can help you break through the “stranger barrier” and start building a connection.
Mutual connections can include anything from belonging to the same LinkedIn group to a shared personal contact or even a hobby you have in common.
Here’s an example of how you might drop the connection into your initial email.
Your Name came up during a meeting with [mutual connection].
She mentioned that you were looking to [address relevant pain point], which is exactly what my company does.
[Connection name] thought it might be beneficial for us to connect since I also recently helped [another company] achieve [X and Y benefits] by implementing [strategy].
If you’re interested in exploring some solutions, I’d love to set up a 15-minute call. Are you available on Tuesday at 1 pm?
Why it works: This template goes beyond the “name drop” and links the mutual connection to the prospect’s key pain point.
By highlighting specific results after mentioning the mutual connection, you’re doubling down on social proof with examples of how you’ve helped others solve similar problems.
Again, prospecting isn’t a numbers game. You’ll want to try out different templates and communication tactics to get a feel for what works (or doesn’t) and record those findings.
Of course, using modern customer engagement software can significantly reduce that time and effort involved in prospecting. With software like Revenue Engage, you can quickly turn the data in your company’s Salesforce into personalized campaigns. Checking which campaigns are most effective is even easier, since charts comparing performance are generated for you.
If your company’s Salesforce isn’t as full of helpful prospect information as you might like it to be, Revenue Inbox makes data capture easy. Revenue Grid makes the sales cycle faster and more streamlined from prospecting to closing.