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How to get a sales appointment via email

Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:12 m

Almost all sales reps swear by email as their best channel for B2B lead generation and appointment setting. But not everyone achieves the same results in their outreach campaigns. Wondering why? 

An appointment-setting email strategy has many moving parts: cold email templates, lead lists, deliverability, timing, and other elements. Without an airtight strategy, you’re shooting in the dark with minimal ROI to show for your efforts. In contrast, a well-crafted strategy can skyrocket your secured appointments and ramp up lead conversion rates.

Now, the question is this: How exactly do you create fail-proof sales appointment-setting email campaigns?

Being an outbound appointment setting agency with a focus on cold email outreach, we A/B tested and documented the approaches and tactics that drove the highest conversions. In this in-depth guide, we’ll share our best tips on what to do before and after sending emails. Look out for our tried-and-tested email templates to hit the ground running!

What to do before you send a sales email: 6 ways to stand out in prospects’ inboxes  

Your preparation before sending appointment-setting emails can make all the difference in the outcomes. Follow these 6 best practices to prepare a solid foundation for your email outreach campaigns.

Find verified emails of decision-makers 

Whether you’re buying a leads list or creating one, remember to enrich your prospect list to verify all the data and eliminate incorrect information. This will significantly reduce email bounce rates and save you the struggle of scrambling for the correct email addresses once the campaign is live. 

Pro tip: Pick multiple contacts from every target organization when sourcing and verifying lead information. Research shows that email sequences with multiple contacts increase response rates by 160%.

Here are a few email verification tools to minimize bounces and increase responses:

  • Apollo uses a 7-step email verification process to validate large email data sets. 
  • Hunter has advanced filters and the option to create a lead database within the app.
  • GetProspect is an email finder tool that identifies valid emails of your ideal customers by job title, location, industry, company size, and other filters.
  • Kickbox verifies and cleans email lists using its real-time verification API and spam tester.
  • ZeroBounce achieves 99% accuracy with its AI-powered scoring system.
  • Bounceless finds emails in a few seconds and verifies them in just 3 steps.

You can also use the DNS lookup technique with tools like MXToolbox DNS Check. A DNS check confirms whether a domain exists.

Personalize your pitch for every prospect

Personalization is more than a formality when you’re planning an email outreach campaign. It’s your best bet if you want to stand out in crowded inboxes and maximize open rates.

Here are a few elements to personalize your emails and set appointments:

  • Subject lines: Subject lines set the tone for your pitch. Personalizing your subject lines boosts response rates by 30.5%. Aim to pique your prospects’ curiosity by mentioning something relatable or create suspense by hinting at your offer. Remember to keep your subject lines between 36 and 50 characters for maximum impact. 

The Correlation Between Subject Line and Response Rate


  • Preview text: Use the preview text to create a strong first impression. Intrigue prospects with this short text to capture their attention. Since the preview text is only partially visible, you can use this space to mention the key terms/benefits of your offer to increase open rates.
  • Personal details: An easy, surefire way to personalize your appointment-setting emails is to mention personal details, like a new job, a funding round, or an industry event. Let your prospects know you’ve done your homework and create an organic segue for your pitch. 

Here’s an abstract from a sample we use to reach out to people attending industry events. It’s to the point, conversational, and well researched. 

Subject line: {{FirstName}} let’s grab a coffee at eTail


As I’m heading to eTail Canada, I’m looking forward to making new connections there. 


How about we meet up on Sep. 28th in the Expo Hall for a morning coffee or exchange insights and perspectives during the Networking Luncheons on Sep. 28th / 29th? We can meet right before the {{SessionName}} that starts at {{Time}}. Thus, we could have a 20-minute chat on our way to {{Session Place}}.

Let me know the best time to catch you at the venue.

On top of all these elements, remember to personalize your email to your ICP’s specific pain points. When competing against so many pitches, you can stand out and grab attention by explaining how well you understand your prospect’s challenges.

That’s exactly what we did as a part of our cold email sales services for Unifocus, a SaaS provider of workforce management systems to the hospitality industry. The company catered to hotels and restaurants, both of which had various challenges in labor management.

So we created 2 different personas for these companies and took an entirely different approach to each when it came to writing and scheduling emails. This widened the scope of personalization and became a solid case study with a 16% response rate.

Make the opening sentence count

Your opening sentence can make or break the deal for you. Once you’ve written a few versions of the subject line and preview text, redirect your focus to writing a stellar opening line. 

Here are a few tips with examples to come up with multiple variations of your opening line:

  • Share the research you’ve done on the target company and emphasize their problems.

“I was checking out {{company name}}’s website traffic and bounce rate. Does 150K monthly traffic and 60% bounce rate sound right?”

  • Mention a mutual connection or decision-maker to create an organic opening line.

“{{mutual connection name}} advised me to reach out to you regarding your {{niche}} needs.”

  • Establish common ground by referring to an upcoming event they’re attending.

“Your latest LinkedIn post told me that you’re attending the {{event name}}. I’m going to be there as well and looking forward to the session on {{session name}}.”

  • Open with a direct, well-thought question that stresses their pain points.

“Quick question: Have you considered using AI to optimize your content workflows?”  

  • Commend them on their latest accomplishment or something that stood out to you.

“I recently found myself engrossed in your latest report and wanted to laud your efforts on such a well-put document.”

Remember Wyatt Beemer’s advice when writing your open line:

Wyatt Beemer’s Advice on Twitter on Writing Your Open Line


Clarify the call to action and next steps

Emails with the highest open rates can have dismal response rates. Why? Because they don’t have a strong call to action (CTA). 

A CTA is more than just a sign-off. On the surface, a CTA tells prospects what to do next. But more importantly, it encourages a lead to move the conversation forward by acting on your ask and performing the action. 

The clearer and more convincing your CTA, the higher response rates and conversions you’ll secure. 

For example, here’s a sales-appointment request email with a simple ask: a call to discuss the new programs designed for your industry.

Subject line: {{ReferralName#1}} didn’t respond to my email

Hi {{FirstName}}, 

Your {{Referral_Title}}, {{Referral_Name}} and {{Referral_Title#2}}, {{Referral_Name#2}} didn’t respond to my emails. I guess they are busy or OOO. 

I was hoping to connect with you instead since I’m reaching out because there is a high probability we can impact one of the largest line items on your P&L, next to personnel and facilities. We’re a white-glove freight forwarder that works with volume shippers throughout the U.S. 

This is why I’m keen on scheduling a call with you to see if there is a fit. Let’s jump on a call to further discuss {{Company}} and our new programs that we designed specifically for the {{Industry name}} industry. 



Pick the ideal time to send the email

The timing of your outreach emails is another factor to focus on. If you want to stay front of mind and stand out in an overflowing inbox, pick the best time to hit “send” on your emails. 

We reviewed 4 recent research reports to identify the best time to send cold emails. Here are the answers:


Time slot



6-9 a.m. PST



8-11 a.m. in the recipient’s time

Tuesday, Thursday


8 a.m., 5 a.m., 9 a.m. in the recipient’s time




On the contrary, our own research on the best time to send B2B emails revealed that open rates peak at roughly 41% in between 12 p.m and 4 p.m.

Determining the best timing for cold emails can significantly influence open rate and visibility. In general, weekday emails perform better than weekend ones. While these studies indicate overall trends, you can test and figure out what works best for your target market.

Monitor and optimize your email deliverability 

What if you notice that none of your appointment-setting emails even land in your prospects’ inboxes? If your emails bounce in bulk, look at deliverability issues (an SDR’s biggest nightmare). Checking your email deliverability is critical to your outreach strategy’s success.

When our team worked on scaling the outbound process for 7 Wonders Cinema, a digital video agency, we used a power-packed email deliverability solution, Folderly

With Folderly, we could:

  • Improve the client’s sender reputation and domain health
  • Conduct email-deliverability audits to identify and eliminate spam issues

Optimizing the email deliverability accelerated 7 Wonders’ outbound growth and increased their sales by 4 times. 

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Read our success story

Relevant reading: Follow these tried-and-tested B2B appointment setting tips to prepare a solid foundation for your email outreach campaigns. 

What to do after you send a sales email: 4 ways to follow up like a pro 

You wrote a spectacular email, personalized it for every prospect, optimized your deliverability, and took every measure before hitting “send” —  and heard nothing but crickets. Sounds disappointing, right? 

Here’s the thing: Sending the first email is a job half done. Sending follow-ups is equally — and sometimes more — important because a good sales follow-up sequence can result in 2x more responses

Let’s look at 4 best practices for creating effective follow-up campaigns.

Communicate your objective with the subject line

Follow-up emails can have the same subject line as your first email. But if you want to make a better impact and spark curiosity with your follow-ups, write an eye-catching subject line. 

Instead of going for generic lines like “Just checking in” or “Touching base,” use a more intriguing, empathetic tone. Show respect for their time and present convenient alternatives to capture their attention. 

Here are a few examples of good subject lines for follow-up emails:

  • Would you like to take another look?
  • Have 20 minutes to spare, {{name}}?
  • You’re busy; you probably missed this.
  • Are you ready to reconnect, {{name}}?
  • {{name}}, this will only take 70 seconds.
  • Are you free to talk about {{pain point}}?

Pro tip: Remember to create several versions of the subject line and run A/B tests to pick 1 variation that resonates the most with your recipients.

Deliver value to make an impact with your follow-ups

A follow-up email shouldn’t be just about following up. Consider it an opportunity to wow your leads and make a case for your brand. Pack your messages with enough value to make prospects curious about your products/services. 

Consider adding proof of work with short case studies, testimonials, and original research to make your follow-up emails more compelling. Show clients why you’re worth their time and present your argument convincingly like the email template below. 

It highlights a case study of the results we produced for a previous client and focuses on quantified ROI.  

Subject line: {{Company}} 

Hi {{FirstName}},

I’d like to share additional info to give our meeting some context. 

During our partnership with {Company}, the applied merchandising strategy proved to be 54% better overall than our competitors. As a result, {Company} spent 33% fewer hours on merchandising, and it was 56% less costly for them compared to what our competitors offered them. 

{{Company}} can get the same results with our industry-specific skills and professional merchandisers with brand knowledge. 

Let me know a suitable date and time you are available to sync up.

Talk soon,

Add an easier, more convenient CTA for clients

If your email open rate is high but the response rate is low, it’s a sign that your CTA isn’t compelling enough to make prospects click. You can turn the tables in your favor by giving them an easy and unambiguous CTA about the next steps. 

Make it convenient for them to take the conversation further with options like:

  • Would you like to see how we’re helping businesses solve {{pain point}}?
  • Could you please tell me the best time to connect next week?
  • Open to a call next week to explore opportunities?
  • Can we chat about this in the upcoming week? 

Here’s a classic follow-up email template with a simple CTA asking the recipient about their current setup. It’s easy to answer and gives you more insight into the prospect’s challenges. 

Hi {{FirstName}},

Are you willing to meet for a quick 20 minutes? Some of my teammates and I will be in your area in a couple of weeks.

What does {{Company}} currently do to ensure that the products are not stuck in the back stockroom and that signage is displayed correctly? It would be great to hear your thoughts.

Best regards,

Be persistent but not pushy with your follow-ups

Perhaps the trickiest part of email outreach is drawing the line for your follow-ups. You’d like to be persistent and show leads how much you care about solving their issues. But if you come off as spammy or annoying, you could lose the deal before the conversation even starts. 

So remember to use your best judgment and consistent testing to make your follow-up sequence foolproof. You can also reroute this sequence based on your prior conversations with a prospect.  

Unlock your full sales potential with effective email outreach

Email is arguably one of the best outreach channels for appointment setting. But sending out emails in bulk without a strategy is a lot like driving around a new city without GPS. 

With this exhaustive guide, make every email count and strike a chord with potential customers using our best practices before and after emailing.

Looking for a trusted partner to take over your appointment-setting strategy? Connect with the experts at Belkins and get bespoke solutions to hit your sales targets and boost your bottom line. 

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Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.