Ultimate Guide to Sales Emails: How to Write Sales Emails That Convert
B2B buyers receive hundreds of sales emails each and every day. They open only a small percentage of these cold emails, read even fewer, and act on even fewer—whether by writing a reply or clicking on a link.
So how do you make sure your sales emails rise above the noise and get acted upon?
This guide walks you through how to write sales emails that get better open rates and response rates and, ultimately, close more deals.
Why are we qualified to talk about this?
Well, for one, thousands of B2B sales teams all over the world use Close to send emails, make calls, and close deals every day. What’s more, before we built our CRM software, we ran sales for more than 200 venture backed startups in the Bay Area.
5 Key Components of the Best Sales Emails
There are five essential elements to an effective sales email:
- The subject line
- Opening intro with your name
- Body (highlighting your value proposition)
- Closing call-to-action
Each of these needs to be thoughtfully constructed to capture and retain your prospect’s interest as they move through each stage of your sales email.
We’ll break each of these components down and share examples from some of our own most effective sales emails, but remember—it’s crucial to adopt a mindset of perpetual experimentation (and optimization) to improve your sales emails over time.
That’s because what works well for you today might not work so well tomorrow. If you want to see consistent results, challenge yourself to run controlled tests and try new strategies regularly.
1. Subject Line
Ah, the sales email subject line. This is where the pros truly stand out from the average Joe.
This subject line, “Your feature on my blog,” has landed me many more deals than any of the other dozens I’ve tested over the years.
It’s incredibly simple, doesn’t sound like an overt pitch, and leads into a sales email that actually delivers value before immediately asking for the recipient's business.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a disastrous subject line—from glaring spelling mistakes that tell the recipient you’re not detail-oriented, to misleading phrases or dramatic attention-grabbing lines that trick recipients into opening, the subject line is by far the most important part of a winning sales email.
Why? Well, if your sales prospects never open the email to read your message, it might as well not exist.
This is especially true with cold emails—when sending your first email to prospects who’ve never heard of you, the subject line is the only thing you’ve got to work with.
So, here’s the goal: create a subject line that is interesting to the recipient based on what you know about them.
Yes, that’s harder than it sounds. Here are four ways to do it effectively:
- Write subject lines like a real person: A cold sales email gets rejected when its subject line sounds like blatant email marketing. A sales email subject line that’s filled with marketing lingo and fake urgency will be quickly archived—or worse, could land you in the spam folder. Instead, write the subject line as if you were writing to an acquaintance or mutual connection.
- Avoid catchy slogans: If you got a sales email from me with the subject line, "Close is the Best New Innovation in the CRM Industry," what would your initial reaction be? I can tell you mine—delete. If you want your emails to actually get opened, you’ve got to know your audience. Most importantly, remember to write like a real human opening up a line of communication, not a Buzzfeed headline copywriter.
- Use sentence case: Don’t Capitalize Every Word of Your Subject Line. It makes your email look like a marketing broadcast that went out to half a million people. So, skip the formality—data shows using a lowercase format significantly increases sales email open rates, likely because regular people don’t use title case for their emails!
- Ask a relevant question in your subject line: The key word here is relevant. Asking a question for the sole purpose of increasing open rates will backfire and actually decrease your stats. Don’t try to bait your recipient —ask something relevant to their needs and what you’re selling.
Here’s a bad example:
Not only does this subject line contain ellipses (which you probably wouldn’t use in normal emails), but the opening line addresses me with my full name AND it proceeds to ask a (silly) question that for some reason ends with two question marks.
So many fails in one outreach email before I even open it—which I definitely didn’t.
Please don’t write sales emails that start out like this, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
Four of Our Most Effective Sales Email Subject Lines
These sales email subject lines have been field-tested with hundreds of thousands of prospects both here at Close and from our days running an outsourced sales team for hire.
They’ve proven to consistently earn open rates of 35% or more. Not too shabby.
- "[Introduction] [your name/company] <> [their name/company]"
- "Quick request"
- "Trying to connect"
- "[Name of their company]"
Notice none of these sound like they’re written by a robot, or make a PR-style sales pitch directly in the subject line? That’s intentional.
We can’t stress enough how important authenticity is when writing your sales email subject lines—if they read like a marketing department spent weeks crafting a catchy headline, you’re doing something wrong.
Write like you’re addressing another (real) person, strive to quickly capture their interest in a way that’s fully delivered on in the rest of your sales email, and you’ll be well on your way to a winning campaign. You can prevent message alteration with DKIM and have better outreach.
Want our best advice on writing winning sales emails, plus ready-to-use templates? Download our book “Cold Email Hacks” for free today!
2. Opening Lines
When drafting the opening line of your sales email, the first step is figuring out how to address your recipient—should you go straight to a first name basis or keep it more formal?
Are your prospects more formal, so they’d appreciate a Mrs. or Mr. opening line to start off on the best note? Would they respond better to Hey, Hi, Hello, or Dear?
You should know the answer to these questions before hitting send on your sales emails. Refer back to your ideal customer profile to solidify the understanding you have of your customers—and consult with your sales team to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
While I’d treat a Dear Mr. Robinson opening line with a healthy dose of skepticism, others may not feel the same. If you know your prospects, you’ll get this right every time.
Connect the Beginning of Your Sales Email to the Subject Line
There’s nothing worse than getting an email with an interesting subject line, just to be immediately disappointed within the first few opening lines.
Taking one of our sales email examples from above, let’s say you lead with the subject line of, “Quick request” where you plan on pitching the prospect to hop on a call and hear more about your marketing automation software…
What should your opening line be?
Let’s start with the fundamentals. A strong sales email opening line does three things:
- Quickly establishes the context for why you’re reaching out
- Takes a meaningful step toward building trust and credibility
- Offers a natural transition into your sales pitch
With that in mind, work on crafting just one or two short sentences that can do a good job of accomplishing these three things while still remaining relevant to the subject line that started this initial sales email. Here’s an example you can gather inspiration from:
Hey [prospect name],
I wanted to reach out because I saw that your team is publishing a lot of great content at the moment, and I’ve been working with several similar companies [like recognizable brand X, Y and Z] to help generate significantly more leads from that content with our marketing automation tools.
From here, you’ll be able to naturally lead into a pitch that’s relevant based on the context you’ve laid out in the opening line.
Cut to the Chase
Recently, I got a cold sales email from a freelance writer I’d never met before that checked all the right boxes:
✔️ He wrote a very clear subject line that gave me a quick sense of the purpose of his email: “Joining your team.”
✔️ He immediately jumped into establishing relevant context around why he was reaching out.
✔️ He gave a quick (but genuine) compliment that showed he actually took the time to do his research on me.
✔️ Then he jumped straight to the purpose of his email and delivered his pitch.
If you’re a freelancer or otherwise selling a service, this is a fantastic sales email example to learn from. Give it a quick read right here:
For a prospect like me that receives dozens of sales emails from writers every day, this stood out from the crowd as being very genuine and straight to the point—two things I value.
Three Examples of Killer Opening Lines to Use in Your Sales Emails
Let’s review. A great opening to your sales email (quickly) establishes context, takes a step toward building trust and credibility, then offers a natural segue into your pitch. Use one of these opening lines that we’ve finessed with thousands of recipients over the years.
- The context builder: I hope this email finds you well! I wanted to reach out because [explain how we got their contact information: talked to a colleague, saw your company online, etc] and we’ve been working with a lot of similar companies to [quick description of the problem you solve/value you provide].
- The trust builder: My name is [name] and I'm with [company name]. We work with organizations like [similar company name] to [insert one sentence pitch].
- The referral request: I'm sorry to trouble you. Would you be so kind as to tell me who is responsible for [insert your biggest pain point here that resonates with your ideal customer; OR insert function like “sales” or “recruiting”] and how I might get in touch with them?
Try deploying one of these opening lines in your sales emails based on the communication style your prospects prefer—you’ll be glad you did.
3. The Body and Delivering Your Pitch
Before sitting down and writing your pitch, think deeply about what you want to achieve with your sales email. When you know exactly what you’re hoping to get out of the conversation, it's easier to structure a sales email to reach those goals.
So, what’s the primary goal of your sales email?
- Is it to immediately encourage a click-through and sale right then and there?
- Are you hoping to capture interest and book a short exploratory call?
- Is your aim to get them on a free trial of your product?
Depending upon your goal, you’ll need to create a strong sales pitch designed to set the stage for the next step—a clear call-to-action.
How to Craft a Strong Pitch
Let’s say the goal of your cold outreach is to book a discovery call as the first step in your sales process.
With that goal in mind, the pitch in your initial sales email should do these three things:
- Give additional context about who you are: If your opening lines don’t establish enough credibility or offer enough detail to instill confidence in you and your company, then start by bolstering that at the beginning of your pitch. It helps to quickly reference the names of other relevant users or customers (lending credibility), or highlight a quick clear result similar customers have earned using your product.
- Clarify the problem you’re solving in one simple sentence: What’s your most relevant one-sentence pitch for this prospect? If you don’t have a quick elevator pitch that sums up your offering and benefits in one sentence, then it’s time to write one right now.
- Highlight ultra-clear benefits that your prospect can relate to: Beyond the quick elevator pitch, pull out a few quick bullet points that drive home the benefits of your offering for your prospect’s specific use case and pain points.
Strive to make it clear to your prospect that this sales email was hand-crafted based on real research and take a value-driven approach to starting a conversation.
Here are a couple examples of how to walk that fine line and deliver a compelling pitch without taking up your prospect’s time on useless information:
Hey [First name],
My name is [my name] and I'm with [my company name]. We work with organizations like [relevant company name] to [insert one sentence pitch].
[One sentence unique benefit geared toward their organization].
Could you point me toward the right person to talk to about this at [company name] so we can explore if this would be something valuable to incorporate into your workflow?
Hey [First name],
[My company] has a new platform that will help (your team at) [their organization name]. [One sentence pitch of benefits]. We do this by:
Benefit/feature 3 (optional)
It seems like we could be a really great fit for what you and your team are working on. I’d love to share some more details, do you have a few minutes to quickly connect this week?
While both of these sales emails are a tweaked variation of the same overall structure, they use slightly different methods of building credibility.
Keep your sales email copy simple, relevant to your prospect’s needs, and void of any fluff.
4. Closing Statement and Call-to-Action
Let’s get one thing clear: If your sales email doesn’t end with a very simple and direct call-to-action (CTA) that makes it obvious which action you’re asking your prospect to take right here and now, then you’ve failed.
The purpose of reaching out and establishing a connection with your prospect is to determine whether or not they’d be a good customer of your product or service, right? Well, it’s your job (as an inside sales rep) to guide them through the step-by-step process of making it from the entrance of your sales funnel, to signing on board as a customer.
That requires guidance—and it’s your job to take the first step by telling them what needs to happen next if they’re interested in hearing more. Do this by:
- Include one single CTA, not multiple options
- Make your CTA frictionless and easy to complete
- Make sure your CTA is clear and specific
5. Using Your Email Signature to Sell
Your email signature is one of the most valuable, underutilized pieces of real estate in an email. To most salespeople, it’s an afterthought—rather than a tool that can be used to further sell to the prospects you’re emailing with.
Most average email signatures have your name, title, contact info, and logo. Like so:
Sales Manager, Acme Solutions
What’s your first thought after looking over this very common email signature?
It’s BORING, and it certainly isn’t doing anything to further your sales conversations.
It’s not building credibility. It’s not offering your recipients something interesting. It definitely isn’t selling or showcasing anything relevant to the prospects you’re communicating with.
We’re big believers of selling in your signature. Our CEO, Steli, pitches recent product news, his book, his podcast—whatever it is we have going on right now that he wants recipients to see in his signature and think, “Hey, that looks interesting!”
Four Genius Ways to Intelligently Sell in Your Email Signature
Here are just a few of the best ways we’ve tested when it comes to selling through a useful signature in our sales emails.
- Press features: One of the best ways to passively sell (and boost your credibility) is to include a link to a positive press article that highlights the company’s accomplishments. Have a recent write-up about your stellar growth? Show it off. If you’re not yet at the stage of landing article features, take the initiative to publish your own stories on a company blog (check out my guide to starting a blog the right way if you don’t already have one).
- Webinar recordings: Another way to use your email signatures to include a link to a recent webinar your company gave. Whether it’s a product demo, or a customer interview, case study, or keynote speech from your CEO, most prospects seriously considering your product will be curious to learn more.
- Case studies: Linking to a positive (and relevant) case study can add a ton of credibility because your prospects can hear the benefits and use cases of your product from the mouths of other customers who trust you, rather than from a sales person.
- YouTube videos: One of our favorite things to include in a signature is a YouTube link. In Gmail, when you add a YouTube video link, it displays a thumbnail of the video. As a result, a video thumbnail (especially if it’s a video of you or someone at your company speaking) catches the reader’s eye. We can’t tell you how many times someone has replied to one of Steli’s emails saying, “I ended up watching that entire speech from your email signature,” before addressing his original message.
For more inspiration, here’s an example of what Steli’s email signature often looks like:
Now that we’ve broken down the essential elements of effective sales emails, let’s go into further depth exploring the most common types of sales emails.
Templates & Examples for Common Sales Emails
Sales emails come in different shapes and sizes. Here are the most common types, and what you should include in each one:
Cold Outreach Sales Emails
What is it: A cold outreach email (or prospecting email) is an email to a prospect that you’ve never spoken with before. Cold email campaigns are used to reach out to multiple prospects who have the potential to be successful customers of your product.
What’s inside: Inside your cold email, it’s essential to include your name and company name, and explain who you are. You’ll also want to make it clear why you’re reaching out to this particular contact, and what you’re offering. Near the end, include a clear CTA that shows what the next steps would be if they’re interested in what you're selling, such as a phone call with decision makers. And of course, add an option to unsubscribe.
When to use it: When you have a list of prospects that fit your ideal customer profile.
Pro Tip: Use Close to set up automated email sequences for new leads and prospects. Learn how it works here.
Hey [first name],
I’m [sender name] at [company name]. I wanted to reach out because [explain how you got their contact information: talked to a colleague, saw your company online, etc.].
[Name of company] has a new platform that will help [your team] at [organization name]. [One sentence pitch of benefits].
I know that [our product/service] will be able to help [name of your company] [insert high-level benefit here].
Are you available for a quick call [time and date]?
[Your name], [Your position] at [Company name]
Follow-Up Sales Emails
What is it: A follow-up email is sent to a lead in your sales process who hasn’t responded to previous communication.
What’s inside: Inside a follow-up email, you’ll include a reference to your previous conversation, an action that they should take to continue through the sales process, and a clear benefit for them to take that action. You might also include social proof or another type of resource that provides value to the lead.
When to use it: When a lead has gone dark, or hasn’t responded to previous emails or phone calls.
This is [Your name]. I am sorry we haven’t been able to get in touch. When we talked last time, you were very concerned about [pain point discussed before]. I understand how busy things can get with work and family these days.
I just want to say that I’m happy to adjust my schedule to hop on a quick call at a better time for you. Here’s my calendar link: I’ve added some extra slots before and after normal working hours in case that’s more convenient for you.
[Your name], [Your position] at [Company name]
What is it: An onboarding or post-sale email is sent to a new customer or free trial signup to encourage retention.
What’s inside: This email should be full of helpful resources for early customers just getting started with your product.
When to use it: When a new lead signs up for a free trial or becomes a customer through self-serve purchase.
Thank you for signing up for your free trial with us.
I wanted to take the time to send you some resources that will help you to get started with [Company name]:
Please don’t hesitate to contact me in case you have any questions. I’d be happy to give the necessary assistance.
[Your name], [Your position] at [Company name]
Post-Meeting Sales Emails
What is it: A post-meeting email is a quick and easy way to keep yourself top-of-mind for leads that you’ve just talked with.
What’s inside: You can use this email to remind your prospect of key points discussed in the meeting, or put in writing the next steps that were decided.
When to use it: Directly after a meeting or product demo with a lead.
It was great to meet you today. Here is a short summary of what’s happening next:
[Date 1]: [Action 1].
[Date 2]: [Action 2].
[Date 3]: [Action 3].
Please let me know if you need additional info. In all cases, I’ll see you at our final meeting on [Date].
Looking for more sales email templates? Get our top cold sales email templates.
5 Helpful Sales Email Tools To Support Your Outreach
Obviously, we believe our CRM with built-in emailing is the best tool for your sales email outreach—you can create cold email templates for your sales team to use, set up email sequences to potential customers, and even create multi-channel cadence for sales.
But whether you’re using Close or another solution, there are other valuable tools to make your sales email workflow more effective.
1. LeadFuze: Email Address Lookup Tool
For your sales emails to succeed, no matter how well-written they are, you first need to have the right email addresses for your prospects.
LeadFuze is a prospecting tool that gets you contact information for prospects in your target market. Then, you can use the Close + LeadFuze integration to import that information directly into Close.
2. Hunter: Prospecting and Email Verification Tool
Hunter allows you to find the email address of any professional one by one or in bulk using their Email Finder. Their Email Verifier then does a complete check of an email address, giving you complete confidence when sending emails.
3. SavvyCal: Meeting/Demo Scheduling Tool
If you succeed in booking a meeting, make it as easy as possible to get it scheduled. Scheduling tools that enable prospects to choose an available slot save a ton of time by eliminating the back and forth when scheduling a call.
SavvyCal makes scheduling appointments as easy for the recipient as it is for the sender by allowing your prospects to overlay their own schedule on the calendar as they choose a time to meet with you.
Best of all, the native Close CRM + SavvyCal integration automatically makes it easy to create and update your Close Contacts when a prospect books a meeting with your team.
4. Intercom: Conversational Selling Tool
Intercom is a suite of messaging products that helps businesses acquire, engage, and support customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle. You can use bots or live chat to convert leads, engage customers by sending targeted emails or app push notifications, and integrate a help desk and knowledge base to support customers.
4. Zoom: Host Virtual Meetings
Zoom combines video conferencing, online meetings, and group messaging—all in one easy-to-use platform. Zoom's features include HD video and audio, built-in collaboration tools, end-to-end encryption, recording and transcripts, streamlined calendaring, chat, and more.
Here at Close, our sales reps love using Zoom for virtual meetings. It makes connecting with clients simple and convenient. Plus, you can integrate Close with Zoom to make sure all your meeting data and recordings are stored in your CRM.
WATCH THE ON-DEMAND DEMO OF CLOSE →
When to Send Sales Emails
Wondering when is the best time to send sales emails? Here’s the answer: it depends.
The right time to send sales emails varies depending on the industry you serve, the type of roles receiving your sales emails, and the actions you want them to take.
Simply put—you need to know your audience and test what works best for them.
For example, if your target market is busy C-Level executives who start the day early,send them an email before working hours so it’s there in the morning when they check their inbox.
If you’re sending sales emails to construction foremen who are outside most of the day, try sending emails later in the day when the construction crew has gone home and they’re finishing last communications before they end their workday.
The key to measuring the success of your sales emails is by measuring email engagement: and the most desired engagement in sales is replies. So, test different times and days, keep track of key email metrics like clicks and replies, and see when you get the most action.
5 Steps To Writing the Perfect Sales Email
For sales professionals today, writing the perfect email isn’t easy. Here’s a word from our CEO and one of the foremost authorities on B2B sales for startups and SMBs, Steli Efti, on writing great sales emails:
Want our best advice on writing winning sales emails, plus ready-to-use templates? Download our book “Cold Email Hacks” for free today!