SDR Email Tips to Increase Your Response Rate
An SDR’s emails are one of their most valuable tools: Done correctly, these emails can make a huge impact on the latter part of the sales funnel, meaning increased revenue for your company.
That said, 2023 has greeted SDRs with brand new challenges. Getting into your prospects’ inbox is harder than ever, data quality has suffered the effects of major business changes in the last few years, and building trust isn’t a given.
Want to improve your chances of success? Learn more about the challenges and best SDR emails tips for 2023 from today’s experts:
Major Challenges SDRs Face in 2023
Knowing your enemy is the best way to prepare yourself for battle. Learn what today’s sales email experts are saying about the challenges facing SDRs:
Balancing Relationship Building with Closing Deals
“A significant challenge facing sales development reps today is how much to nurture a relationship vs. push for the close—whether that’s a meeting, or the deal itself,” says Jamie Cohen, Sales Manager at SalesCompete. “Depending on the industry you are selling into, you need to be mindful of what your prospect perceives as ‘kind and cunning.’”
Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl, adds this:
“Creating and maintaining relationships with prospects is a major challenge for SDRs doing email outreach today. It can be difficult to build long-lasting relationships in a short amount of time, especially if the emails you're sending seem generic or don't identify how your product solves the needs of that particular potential customer.”
Getting Their Emails Opened and Read
“The inbox is too crowded for prospects to have time to open and read every email they receive,” says Alex Milligan, Co-Founder and CMO at NuggMD.
James Urie, Senior Partnerships Manager here at Close, adds this:
“Deliverability is the biggest game changer in terms of what will give you an edge versus never having your emails seen. Most outbound emails land in spam if the email domain hasn’t been properly prepped for inbox placement.”
So not only is getting good response rates and open rates a challenge—it can even be difficult to get your email to appear in a prospect’s inbox.
Learning to Use the Right Tech
“Email outreach changed a lot over the past years, and today, automation tools are pretty much a must for a successful email outreach campaign,” says Michael Maximoff, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Belkins. “One of the major challenges facing SDRs today is learning how to best utilize the technology at hand, and then how to follow up on those conversations.”
Does your sales development team use automation tools for outreach? Then you need to make sure you’re using these to their highest potential—otherwise, you could risk wasting precious time and losing out on good opportunities.
Maintaining Good Data Quality
We recently chatted with Harris Kenny of IntroCRM about the challenges of outbound sales in 2023, and he mentioned this:
“As we’re all seeing online and reading in the news, a lot of people are changing jobs right now. What that means is that the places you normally source your data from are becoming increasingly inaccurate. Even the most expensive data providers can’t keep up—their users are reporting very high error rates and bounce rates.
“Frankly, this is true even if you’re working leads within your existing CRM. If you try to run a sequence to everyone you talked to in the last three months of last year, there’s a decent chance that multiple people have moved on since then.”
Diana Stepanova, Operations Director at Monitask, adds this:
“With the increase in data security regulations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure prospects’ emails and contact information are accurate and up-to-date. This can lead to a lot of wasted outreach efforts, meaning Reps need to stay on top of their database hygiene to maximize their time spent on outreach activities.”
11 Creative Ways to Improve Your SDR Email Outreach
So, what are today’s sales experts and SDRs doing to improve their chances of success with email outreach?
1. Personalize More Than Ever
It’s no longer enough to include the prospect’s company name and call it a day. This level of personalization is the bare minimum, and won’t make you stand out from the crowd.
Jackson Lott says this about his time as an SDR: “I used Vidyard to create personalized videos where I showed the prospect specifically how they can use our software within their role.”
“I've found it helpful to hyper-personalize the intro of my email to a) the prospect or b) their company's current situation,” says Jenna Kienzle, Midmarket BDR at Showpad. “And that can be anything from calling out that a prospect previously worked at a customer of ours or referencing the fact that their company is still hiring for sales roles and showcasing how we can help in the current situation.”
Of course, to personalize successfully, you need to have a clear understanding of the wants and needs of your prospects— then you can create a sales pitch that’s relevant to them right now.
Will Yang adds this advice:
“Take the extra time to research whom you're communicating with and what their current struggles may be so you can craft a tailored message that speaks directly to their specific needs.”
“When done well,” says Katheriin Liibert, Head of Marketing at Woola, “Personalization helps highlight why your offering is relevant to the recipient. If you're selling a service for distributed teams, it can be a mention of the recipient's company's different office locations. If you're trying to promote an integration service, the outreach might mention specific software tools already in their current tech. Get creative and specific to stand out!”
“Make sure that your messaging has been customized to the person you are trying to reach, instead of a generic email template that has been blasted out to multiple people,” adds Alex Milligan.
“Keep it authentic,” says Jamie Cohen. “Your prospects are receiving bulk automated emails all day and they are tired of it. Creating authentic, bespoke emails for your prospects will help you cut through the noise and generate more positive replies.”
2. Be a Relationship Builder
Let’s face it: very few people are eager to be sold to, especially in this environment. So, what can you do to build relationships rather than alienating prospects with tone-deaf sales pitches?
“Be a human being, not a sales automaton,” says Travis Lopes, Enterprise AE at 360Learning.
Always remember: you are better than a bot!
While AI and automation can be a powerful tool to help sales teams, many reps use artificial intelligence tools in a lazy, mindless way. By just being you in your communication with prospects, you’ll add a human factor that is seriously lacking in most outreach today.
But what if your prospects tell you it’s just not the right time to buy now?
“Being a champion for buying new software is a risk,” mentions Caroline Li, SDR at FullStory. “If the timing really isn’t right for them, I aim to get concrete next steps for when to pick back up the conversation and make sure to keep them in nurture until a better time comes around. It’s a letdown to have to wait, but there are other prospects out there who are ready to talk - it’s just about finding them!”
In good times and bad, making the effort to build relationships rather than just sell is what will set you apart as a salesperson.
Sales reps who only focus on short-term sales tactics will end up failing in the long-term. Even if they do continue selling, they’ll either be mediocre sales reps for the rest of their lives, or they’ll end up hating their job and eventually burning out.
On the other hand, one of the best ways to build your sales career is to focus on building relationships with prospects. This is a long-term strategy that will help you build a successful career in sales.
3. Become a Consultant and Advisor
Being a sales rep is very similar to being a doctor. A good doctor asks the right questions, gets to know the patient's situation, and offers expert advice that will help the patient find a solution to their problems.
A good sales rep must do the same: Ask the right questions, understand the situation, and offer expert advice that leads to a real solution. When your sales style matches the style of a good doctor, you know you’re heading in the right direction.
“In general, people pay a lot of money for industry insights & consultation. If I am offering that as a resource, interwoven within a request to meet, I’m likely to get a prospect to hear me out,”
- Ervis Domi, SDR at Ceros.
By creating or searching for valuable resources for your prospects, or even by offering yourself as a source of advice, you can develop deeper relationships with your prospects and 10x your outreach.
4. Keep Your Emails Short
“Shorter emails allow for an easy read but get your point across,” says Brooke Herbst, SDR at SupplyPike.
With emails piling up in your prospects’ inboxes, it’s important for your first emails to be just one or two sentences long. “Keep the emails short and straight to the point, do not waste anyone's time, especially yours,” says Michael Maximoff.
5. Update (and Use) Your Cold Email Templates
While personalization is key, using sales email templates is a great way to speed up your process for creating and sending new SDR emails.
With templates that you can personalize and adjust, you’ll have a clear value proposition to lead from, as well as a relevant CTA. Sales professionals save time and keep their messaging on point by using cold email templates.
But remember—once and done isn’t enough. Regularly update your email templates to ensure they stay relevant to your audience.
Psst… looking for cold email templates to build from? Download our free resource:
6. Set Clear Follow-Up Sequences
Following up is a key part of an SDR’s process. Whether via phone call or email, regular follow-ups are necessary to get in touch with decision-makers and build their interest in what you have to offer.
“I think the top challenge for SDRs right now as that people are inundated with messages and calls. This creates a lot of clutter and makes it hard to stick out,” says Dan Gower, Owner at Buddy Garnder Advertising.
“The best way to overcome this challenge is with multi-touch, multi-channel sales cadences. This allows you to deliver information in bite-sized pieces and build a valuable relationship over time.”
Using a tool like Close, you can set up automated sales workflows that include touchpoints via email, SMS, and phone.
WATCH HOW IT WORKS IN OUR ON DEMAND DEMO →
7. Make Your Call to Action Clear
While your email copy should be clear and concise, your CTA should be singular. This is essential to keeping your prospect’s attention focused on the action you want them to take.
Set a clear goal: what do you want a prospect to do after reading your email? Should they book a meeting with an AE? Should they schedule a product demo? Do you want them to fill out a form on your website?
Knowing what steps you want prospects to take, you can make a call to action that motivates them to do it in a way that is pain-free and frictionless for them.
8. Use LinkedIn to Get More Context
Social media can be a treasure trove of information about your prospects. When conducting lead generation and prospecting as an SDR, using LinkedIn can help you determine key ideas to include in your emails, as well as help you verify that the person you’re trying to reach still works at the company you want to contact.
Spending a few minutes on LinkedIn researching your prospect and their company can make the difference between a relevant SDR email and one that falls short of interesting.
9. Ask Good Questions
While doing research, and later while talking with a prospect, asking good questions will help you qualify a new prospect and discover whether they’re a good fit for what you’re selling.
Conduct extensive research on every lead and make sure to ask questions, a lot of them,” says Michael Maximoff. “Every experienced SDR understands the importance of a deep understanding of leads and their problems, and they know asking questions is the only way to get there. Make sure to ask all the important questions as early as possible.”
10. Add Value to Your Prospects
In a world where everyone is asking for something, providing true value can make your outreach stand out to prospects.
“The best way to build this trust is to focus on following up, being responsive, and offering value,” says Matthew Ramirez. “SDRs should be thinking about how they can add value to the prospect’s day, even if it’s just an email that makes them smile. By being responsive and providing value, prospects will over time begin to trust the SDR and their organization enough to reach out and schedule a call.”
“A good email includes both personalization and adds value,” says Dhiraj Patel, Revenue Operations Lead at Mailmodo. “ To write an email that is not only read, but also converts, SDRs should understand three things:
- How your product stands out compared to competitors
- The daily work and KPIs of your ideal customer profile
- The buyer journey for your ideal customer, and where your product can solve their pain points
“Once you understand your product, your customer, and their customers well, you can write emails with an opening line that makes them laugh, and email copy that adds solid value to their organization.”
11. Use Segmentation to Personalize at Scale
No matter who your ICP is, you can likely segment them down into smaller groups of similar profiles. Doing this can allow you to create more personalized emails direct to that segment, which means more relevant emails at a higher scale.
“Filter and segment your contact lists as much as possible,” says Diana Stepanova. “This helps you to personalize messages and target the right people for each campaign, which increases open rates and conversion rates. Try to find commonalities among your list of contacts, such as job title or company size, and tailor your messaging accordingly. Taking the time to segment your lists can help make outreach more.”
Real-World Examples That Show These Methods Work
Want to see how these methods work in the real world? Here are three real-life examples of the results SDRs are seeing when using their own tips:
“While prospecting, I noticed on a lead’s LinkedIn bio that he was especially proud of his red beard. I’m also a redhead and tried my hand at growing a big red beard a few years back. I like to skip the cheese and get right to the point with a clear and concise value prop, but there seemed to be an opportunity here to try something out of the box.
This lead seemed to have a good sense of humor, and so I started my email with “From one red-bearded soul to another” and included a photo of my all-time best beard.
I made sure to then quickly dive into my real ideas for how our product might be of value to him and his company. He responded right away, thanked me for the “research and personalization” of the outreach, and started asking questions about our product. We’d started off on the right foot.
Moral of the story — personalization is always key to cold outreach and can take many forms. Sometimes it means leading with your red beard.”
– Cody Stover, SDR at Customer.io
We received a response to an extremely personalized email campaign where we featured an image of the potential customer’s product along with our introduction. The Vice President replied that the personalization “really resonated” with him and stood out against the “50 solicitation emails [he receives] in a day”.
– Brooke Herbst, SDR at SupplyPike
Recently, I worked on a campaign that targeted particular industry contacts and segmented them based on their employer size -- either large or small businesses. The small business list saw open rates 17% higher than the general list with no segmentation. This proved that taking the time to segment my lists was worthwhile and increased engagement.”
– Diana Stepanova, Operations Director at Monitask
Email Outreach Isn’t Dead: You Just Need to Do it Right
Cold emailing has always been a key tool for SDRs—now, this method may seem more challenging than ever.
That said, today’s SDRs can meet the challenges of email outreach by becoming relationship builders, setting clear follow-up sequences, using more personalization, and adding real value.
Want to get a head start? Check out our 12 cold email templates and adapt them to your prospects.