The sales breakup email: Before you stop following up, send this

The sales breakup email: Before you stop following up, send this

The breakup email is one of the most effective follow up email templates you can use when a prospect isn’t responding to your emails.

You’re essentially “breaking up via email” with them. Not that your unilateral relationship was that great to begin with, but by being the one who’s walking away, rather than the one who’s pursuing, you turn the dynamic of the interaction around. It’s high school all over again, but it’s also highly effective.

Both outbound and inbound

It works both for outbound emails (when you’re sending emails to people who have never expressed an interest in your offer or interacted with you) and inbound emails (when you’re sending out emails to people who have at some point expressed interest in your offer, e.g. by signing up for a trial).

How to write an effective breakup email

It starts with writing an effective subject line. For the breakup email, here are some examples of good subject lines:

  • Goodbye from Steli
  • Goodbye from Close
  • Thank you from Close
  • Should I stay or should I go now
  • Moving on
  • It’s not you. It’s me.
  • Time to part ways

Email body

The email body itself should be short and succinct.

Here are four good examples for inbound break up emails.

This one is from Trunk Club, and does a good job at re-stating the value that’s being lost.

email-drip-trunk club

This email by HubSpot is a bit too long-winded, I think, and they might have already changed it, but it’s still a fairly good email to study.


Here’s an email from Bryan Kreuzberger's Breakthrough Email.

breakup-email-bryan reuzberger

The "Should I stay or should I go" is being used by a ton of companies nowadays. Here’s a recent example from Uberflip.


Use these as inspiration for your own breakup emails, and constantly track how these emails perform.

If you’re using Close to manage your sales pipeline and follow up with leads, you simply make your breakup email a template.

With Close’s reporting features, you can measure how your email templates perform, iterate, and constantly improve subject lines and body copy.

The basic structure of an effective breakup email

Here are the elements you want to include in your email:

  • I’ve repeatedly tried to do something good for you.
  • You’ve never even replied (maybe because you’re too busy, you’re not interested or you’ve moved on to something else).
  • Thus, this is the last email you’ll ever get from me.
  • If at any time you ever want to [insert desired outcome, e.g. see how I can help optimize your sales process], I’d be more than happy to speak with you.
  • Here my contact details [phone number, etc.].
breakup-email-structure-typing on computer

Mistakes to avoid

Sometimes I get breakup emails that have an almost accusatory or disappointed tone—that’s not what you should do.

It’s important that you keep the email on the emotionally positive or neutral side. After all, this isn’t a high school breakup; you’re a professional, this is business. No blame, criticism or disappointment.

Why it works

In a post from early 2015, I wrote about how the breakup email utilizes the principle of loss aversion. When you take a good thing away from someone, it makes them want it more.

It won’t work with people who never had any interest in your offer at all. If they’re completely cold, nothing you write in a break up email will get them interested.

But for those people who were somewhat interested but just didn’t have the time, or haven’t made it a priority yet, it might just be the nudge that gets them engaged with you. Learn other ways to keep prospects engaged when you download your free copy of Cold Email Hacks.