The Science of Sales: Crafting the Perfect Sales Email

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How do you write a winning sales email? Use these tactics for content creation people will actually want to read.

Hi. My name is Josh Harris, and I thought I'd share some info about sales emails in order to...

Hold it right there. Does that intro actually make you want to read the rest of this article? Of course not. That's why I'm amazed that many sales reps actually use this framework to reach out to prospects. 

Now, this may sound crazy to the folks who are stuck on the above method, but the purpose of a prospect email isn't simply to send it. 

It's to get a response. And then a sale. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to skyrocket your response rates. And yes, they actually are simple. So no excuses.

Short Subject Lines Aren't Always Better

Contrary to popular belief, emails with shorter subject lines don’t always attract a better response rate. In a study on the length of email subject lines in relation to response rate by customer relationship management firm, Implisit, the findings indicated that emails with subject lines with 10 or more words enjoyed a higher response rate (46 percent) compared to subject lines with five or fewer words, which have a response rate of 24 percent. 

What?! 24 percent is way less than 46 percent.

Yup, we know. So it's important to note that shorter isn’t always better. It's important to note that you don't want to exceed 10 words, as subject lines longer than that tend to get cut off.

Longer Emails Are Better for Initiating Contact

This is another fact that contradicts conventional wisdom. Studies have shown that emails with body text exceeding 500 words receive the best response rates, a 40.3 percent average. So if you thought people reply to shorter emails more, think again.

People may indeed appear to read shorter emails more, but that doesn't mean they actually respond to them. This doesn't mean that you should stuff your emails to the brim with fluff and repetitive jargon just to make them longer, it simply means that you shouldn't be afraid to run a little long as long as what you're saying is important.

Keep in mind that the length of an email matters most when initiating contact. Once you've managed to get a conversation going it doesn’t really matter how short or long the email is, simply say what you need to say to get your message across and leave it at that.  

Personalize 

The perfect sales email also needs to be highly personalized. This means you should whenever possible include the name of the person you are targeting. Dale Carnegie once stated that our names are tied to our self-perception and contribute significantly to our identity (and I'm sure not gonna argue with Dale). Therefore, it's no surprise that we tend to trust and be more engaged by messages bearing our names.

Using your prospects name makes your sales email more conversational and intimate. This will cause your prospect to automatically think of you more as a trusted advisor than an annoying salesman and, as we all know, people are much more likely to buy from those they like and trust.

You can include the name of your target client in the subject line, greeting, when asking for a reply and/or thanking your target client for reading the email.

While important, don't stress too much about name usage, it doesn't have to be fancy. Concluding your message with something as simple as, "Karen, I know you're busy and really appreciate the opportunity to do business with you" will do wonders.

Signatures Work Magic (Especially When They Contain a Head-Shot)

Personalization shouldn’t stop with name usage and targeting. The sender also needs to include their own personal touch, and what better way to do that than with a signature and picture?

Numerous studies have revealed that signatures, especially those with head shots, greatly improve email response rates. By signature, I don't mean "Jim Smith, CPA, 614-234-9906 blah blah blah..." I'm talking about your actual scribbly John Hancock.You can either take a picture of it and upload or use a signature capture feature on your computer. Either way, slap that bad boy in at the bottom of your message and see for yourself.

Next to your signature, include a headshot of yourself. In too many studies to cite it has been proven that people connect far more with a head-shot than with a logo or text alone. Your picture helps the reader connect with you as a person, not just as some random internet sales person. Your signature evokes a sense of sanctity and honor.

Reach Out to Leads Fast

This should go without saying, but it's so important I'm gonna say it anyway. Leads (or new site subscribers) should be contacted as soon as possible if you are interested in getting a reply. Whenever a person subscribes/signs up to become a member of your site or shows some interest in your business (i.e. by liking a business page), you should make a point of contacting them immediately. Like now.

Fact: The sooner you reach out, the more likely you are to get a response. Don't think for a second that they'll remember you two weeks from now if you lollygag around—there are simply too many blogs, and ads and funny fat penguin videos on YouTube competing for their time.

Use Numbers, Statistics and Data to Attract Attention and Boost Credibility 

According to studies performed by research group NNG, online readers are more attracted to numbers than text. Why do you think people still write annoying listicles like "10 Ways to Loose Stubborn Belly-fat?" Because they work.

Numbers create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—kind of like sipping green juice instead of munching on a bundle of kale. And our brains jump all over the opportunity to scoop up some effortlessly acquired data.

In the proper format, the use of numbers in subject lines has been shown to increase response rates, so when you can, do. Also, include statistics and data in your writing, not just to sound all smart and fancy, but to let your reader know you've done your homework.  

Add Some Social Proof

This tactic relies on people's sense of "safety in numbers." A trait hardwired into our brains from the days when fitting in meant life or death. Sure, now you’re reading blogs and checking your Twitter feed instead of hunting for your next meal or saving, but that doesn't mean you're free from the herd mentality. 

For example, we're more likely to put a tip in a jar that already contains money, shop at a busy store or work late if our coworkers are doing the same. We're wired to assume that if lots of other people are doing something, then it must be OK.

We're particularly susceptible to this principle when feeling uncertain, and we're even more likely to be influenced if the people we see appear to be similar to us. That's why commercials often use moms, not celebrities, to advertise household products. Inject social proof into your sales emails in the form of testimonials, case studies, reviews, etc. 

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