How to write an effective sales email

Posted on 5 September 2014 by Emily Stella

Throughout my career I’ve worked for small to medium companies. That’s my preference. It means I can dabble in activities beyond most people at my level.

One of those activities is generating new business. In a small company, everyone has to contribute to bringing in business. For most (apart from the born wheeler-dealers), this is a daunting prospect. Though you might dread the idea of selling, the satisfaction when your prospect ‘bites’ is second to none. So how do you achieve this by email?

Research your prospect

Before you jump in to writing your sales email, take the time to research your prospect. A short Google search and a read of their website makes a huge difference.

What’s important to them? Is anything changing in the company at the moment? Do they already use a competitor? If so, why are you better? Have you spotted a gap in their product offer that your company can fill? Most importantly, who is the right person to contact?

Use this information to tailor your email to the company and your reader.

Choose the right subject line

The subject line determines whether your prospect even bothers to click on your email or sends it straight to the trash. Should you write your company name or their company name? Keep it short or make it really descriptive?

You can play around with the subject line forever, but we recommend you keep it short, mention their name (to show this isn’t a mass mailout) and tell them your services upfront.

Don’t try to be too clever. You might think you can stand out from the crowd with a quirky question or insightful quote to grab their attention. This could work, but it could also backfire – they (or their email filter) might think your email is spam. So play it safe.

Get to the point – quickly

You’re 50% there – they’ve opened your email and you have their attention for all of 20 seconds. So start strong. Who are you? And how can you help them?

A brief introduction to you and your company and then straight in to explain what you can do for them and how it will benefit their organisation.

‘I’m the commercial director at You Won’t Believe It’s Not Meat. We supply the highest quality meat substitutes to the restaurant sector.

Have you thought about broadening the menu at Bruno’s to include meat substitutes? It’s a great way to attract new customers and retain existing customers with changing tastes…’


Organise a face-to-face meeting

The purpose of a cold email is not to make a sale; it’s to arrange a meeting so you can win them over in person.

Keep the purpose of your email to a minimum, then dive in and suggest a short meeting. Don’t forget to give them a time period too.

‘Could you spare half an hour in the next couple of weeks to meet and discuss?’

So keep it simple. All you need is a foot in the door and a long, waffly email will never get you there. Even if you don’t hear back from that cold email, don’t take it as a final ‘no’. Try, try, try again.