How to write a good sales email?
Some time ago, The Economist Group and Peppercomm released a report that surveyed about 500 business executives and 500 marketing experts with a goal outline key differences in their content expectations and understanding of the content strategy. According to the report:
of business, executives would be more likely to respond to an email that suggests a business idea than to a message that simply promotes a product
of business owners don’t like to receive a direct sales pitch and would choose informative emails over salesy ones
of business executives value unique content that provides a fresh perspective on their vertical or workflow
of business, executives are more comfortable with well-structured text instead of video or audio content
Since our work often involves redesigning
Marketing email templates
into proper B2B ones, we can confirm that this information remains relevant nowadays.
Low visibility and Open Rate are common results of confusing B2C marketing strategy with
B2B content development
Due to this, compiling a comprehensive tutorial for writing effective sales emails has been on our minds for a while.
As you seem, it ultimately took shape.
Feel free to bookmark for your B2B development needs: and never hesitate to suggest new topics or send us an ask!
What’s a B2B email?
Before we ask how to write a good sales email, let’s be clear about the difference between B2C sales and B2B promotion.
This distinction is key to solid content development and tone-setting. Also, it’s the only way to finally sort out the following long-standing questions:
“Am I supposed to speak with my B2B customers the same way as with my B2C buyers? Should I be formal and highly eloquent? Should my emails be salesy or more neutral?”
When you compare the two types of marketing communication, side-by-side, the difference is easy to spot.
Now let’s talk more about each of these B2B features and see what makes them so important.
While B2C email marketing uses a personal and relatable tone to capture a reader’s attention, B2B emails aim to communicate the main value of the service or product to the customer as concisely as possible. Therefore, introduce your benefits clearly and succinctly. If your B2B services cover more than one market, it would also be a good idea to create several shortlists of benefits and prioritize the one that’s based on the needs of your immediate prospect’s industry.
One thing to always keep in mind when crafting a B2B email:
Professional DOESN’T mean inhuman
To be ‘professional’ a message needn’t be long, overly eloquent and highly formal, nor should it be too curt and snappy, in a manner that would make the instructions to a TV set look like a romantic novel. After all, you’re reaching out to the living, breathing people and they will respond better if your emails recognize them as such. Therefore, in successful B2B communication, professional = respectful. When you reach out to your prospects, you respect their time. You make the most of every word and sentence. Your tone is polite, your language is seasoned with a dash of professional wit that proves your authenticity and livens-up the conversation. Basically, a good B2B email is like a professional handshake: firm, genuine and lingering no longer than it should.
Remember that your B2B recipients are at work, attending to details, tracking efforts, measuring attainment. They have deadlines to meet and budgets to monitor, so flashy templates and B2C marketing methods are a distraction to them. You want to get these industrious people on-side, so don’t waste their time with trivial banter or pointless memes.
Don’t use memes in B2B emails
Choose facts over sentiment. Introduce the strengths and value of your service as promptly as possible.
While highly effective in B2C, appeal to emotion needs some adjustment to work in B2B content. When it comes to business, your recipients want to be understood and assured, more than surprised or intimidated. This is something quite subtle, a different level of empathy that’s shared between fellow professionals. It’s important to nurture that kind of connection, one message at a time.
Industry pain points – show some understanding
Emotional triggers are used in B2C email marketing to differentiate a branded product from a range of similar offers, making it memorable. However, in B2B everything is measured in terms of experience and expertise. Your recipients are not on the lookout for someone who can tell the most touching story. Their ideal B2B provider knows the specifics of their business model and can swiftly identify the challenges. If you’re familiar with their target audience it shouldn’t take you very many words to convey your competence and ability to find solutions.
Since your B2B emails are intended for a certain kind of professional, don’t be afraid to be speak their language. Use appropriate business terminology, rather than simpler synonyms. Describe your product with informative, technical words and avoid colorful, generic expressions. Apply case studies and statistics to drive your point home. Your targets want to be confident in their choices and the best way to secure that confidence is to prove your professionalism. Show them you’re on top of the facts.
Longer buyer cycle
In B2C it takes three steps to make a sale. A B2C client has to open an email, click the CTA button and, at the point-of-sale, complete the purchase. B2B decision-making involves more principal players, stakeholders, and workflows. Rather than three simple steps, there’s a process of strategic campaign development, designed to feed content into your recipients’ inbox over a period of time, before a deal proceeds to the closing stage. It is critical to maintaining a timely schedule of follow-ups that remind your B2B customers about your offers and carefully nurture everyone who responds positively until they are ready for a deal.
Do your emails mean business?
How to write a sales email
Now you know what defines a good B2B email, we should write one.
- How did you find this company?
- What motivated you to choose this company?
- What kind of assistance do you need?
Sales emails that leave no room for doubt and open the doors of opportunity are built from essential elements:
- Subject line
- Pitch delivery
- Closing lines
Each of these plays a part in generating and gauging interest, so to write a persuasive email you should know them like the back of your hand.
In a good B2B communication your brand philosophy is right there, from the subject line at the top all the way through to the signature.
1. Subject line
Make sure your B2B subject line conveys professionalism and credibility, that way you’ll be most likely to get things moving. To stay in favor with your recipients (and on the right side of spam control systems), it’s enough to follow some simple dos and don'ts. A subject line can be overdone or underdone – you’re aiming for a suitable balance.
Overdone subject lines
Trying To Attract Attention By CAPITALIZING EVERY WORD
Your eyes might start to hurt merely looking at such subject lines. Imagine how your prospects will feel, receiving dozens of heavily capitalized emails every day. In addition to being brash, capitalized subject lines give a highly impersonal appearance that makes recipients think the message wasn’t meant for them. Logically, their next conclusion is:
Field-tested Belkins' example:
- Introducing [YourCompanyName]
- Suggestions for [Vertical]
- Regarding [value prop]
- [ProspectCompany] and Your Company - Synergy
Knowing when to stop with the punchlines
Punchlines are like salt: they can make an offer delicious or ruin it. Balance is the key. When your recipients rely on objectivity, facts and professional tone, they’re unlikely to welcome showy wordplay and catchphrases – even the ones you think are really clever. Your B2B prospects will appreciate communicating with a genuine business person who’s on their wavelength, much more than fending-off some foot-in-the-door salesman
Field-tested Belkins' example:
- [ProspectName], quick request
- [ProspectCompany] [pain point]
- New service from [YourCompanyName]
Exclamations !! No Points !!!!!
We recommend against using any punctuation marks in a subject line (unless you’re asking a question), but exclamation points are a definite NO.
First of all, exclamation marks are classified as spam triggers, so to the majority of email service providers, all emails with exclamation points belong in a spam folder.
Second, even if such an email manages to bypass spam filters, the exclamation marks indicate an urgency that’s not welcome in B2B outreach.
Underdone subject lines:
Ignoring accuracy and grammar
Typos and bad spelling attract attention – and not the kind you want. Moreover, they can ruin your future campaigns. After all, your prospects will think: “If this provider is sloppy with their own words, how would they handle our business?”
Asking the wrong questions
In general, asking a question in your subject line is fine as an ice-breaker, providing you do it right. Don’t ask random or eccentric questions just to provoke prospects into opening emails so you can throw a sales pitch at them. Be relevant and keep your subject line consistent with the purpose of your offer.
Field-tested Belkins' example:
- [ProspectName], what do you think?
- You or [ColleagueName]? (if asking for referral)
- [CompanyName] plans for 2020?
Avoiding these mistakes will improve your subject-line crafting. To write winning subject lines, remember these simple tips:
- Keep it short. People often check their emails via mobile phone and if your subject line doesn’t fit the screen, it’s a frustrating reading experience for your prospect.
- Do your research. Featuring a piece of information that shows your knowledge of the prospect, their accomplishments and activity (an event they attended, the presentation they gave, the award they won) will significantly increase your open rate.
- Find balance. Always remember that your emails are not blog posts or forum threads. You use them to reach out to an individual and invite them to respond. Your tone should be the best combination of tact, friendliness and intrigue, to get your sales prospects interested rather than annoyed.
All these email subject-line techniques have been field-tested at Belkins, securing us an Open Rate over 50%
2. Opening lines
Your opening lines can build credibility and trust. The impression they make dictates the tone for the whole message. The quality of your introduction will determine how many prospects respond. At this point, don’t forget to refer to your target customer profile. It will tell you how to greet your recipients properly, in the most appropriate tone.
Opening lines should follow the subject line
If you scored with your subject line, make sure that the rest of the message can hold that interest. Your opening line must engage the reader and establish the reason for your making contact, in a way that will naturally justify your sales offer.
Your opening should be brief
A strong opening is probably just one or two sentences. Anything more and readers can miss the point, without which a segue into your sales pitch will be a lot more tenuous.
Your opening should feel credible
Right from the start you must establish yourself as a professional with experience in your prospect’s business. You don’t need to attach certificates and diplomas, just demonstrate some honesty, knowledge and a spark of creativity.
Mention similar companies you have worked with
We work with organizations like [company name]. I’m with [company name]
Shape the context
Explain how you found your prospect’s company and why you decided to reach out to them
You have been referred to us by [credible person].
We found your company in [event/presentation/social/media] and decided to…
Ask for directions
Let your recipient take an initiative by providing you with directions or guiding you through their company network
I’d appreciate if you can refer me to the person responsible for [business function] at your company.
Could you please refer me to the person who covers [industry pain points] at your company
Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the perfect email opening. As your range of B2B customers expands, so will their types of needs and the variety of communication styles. Define the style that a majority of your ideal prospects favor the most and build your strategy from there.
3. Sales pitch
It takes more than one tutorial to explain how to write a sales-pitch email – also there’s no way we can promote a single ‘perfect’ example. The art of crafting a winning sales pitch will be covered by further guides and articles in our blog – because one tutorial couldn’t cover everything in such a complex and multilayered subject. The way you construct your sales email depends on its goal. Is the message supposed to push your prospects towards scheduling a call? Is it designed to introduce your company? Is it supposed to secure a sale?
Since we will be speaking about all of these goals further, let’s outline the fundamental elements of a sales pitch.
Give details and keep building context from the outset. At this point, your recipient wants to learn more about you, discover what sets your company apart from the others and be confident that you are genuine. Pick the most relevant information about your services and products and offer references.
Outline pain points, initiatives and benefits. Use one sentence to describe an issue that your prospects are familiar with. Then, list the ways you’d solve it. A bullet-point list reads most easily. Don’t go overboard with descriptions – your task here is not to be forceful, but to speak convincingly, using your knowledge and expertise.
I decided to reach out to you because [one sentence describing benefits] that we developed for your vertical delivered such productive results as:
This is why I’d like to see if there is a good fit between your business and mine and I’m sure we can answer that question in a quick conversation. If you’re interested, please let me know when to call.
Show that you care. Your prospects are more likely to start a B2B relationship if they see that you’re ready to go the extra mile for them. You can demonstrate that by researching their brand, knowing the challenges they face and writing a message that highlights the issues and recognizes their accomplishments. Of course, there is more to learning how to write a sales pitch and no-one claims to have nailed every type of marketing communication. The key is to never stop seeking new knowledge and working to improve.
4. Closing line
In closing, you reiterate the purpose of your email and encourage your prospects to take action. Your B2B closing lines usually give a call-to-action or reinforce the CTA just made. If you see that your emails are being opened and you’re getting a response, your CTA is working. If your emails are viewed, but things don’t move forward from there … well, let’s consider what could be going wrong.
Lack of clarity
There is a reason why YouTube content creators constantly remind their viewers to like and subscribe. No matter how clear and simple your sales prospecting email template is, it still needs a closing statement suggesting the next step of the communication. Whether it is scheduling a call, offering a free trial or a referral request, never hesitate to tell your prospects what you want.
Too much too soon
Your first email could be asking too much from your prospects. Don’t make them feel they have little time and no choice, by pressuring them to make an investment decision right here and now. Even if your service is relevant to their needs, you shouldn’t be too pushy. If your CTA asks prospects to invest resources in an offer without firstly considering the pros and cons, it’s asking too much. After that, your prospects will be more likely to ignore your messages and engage with other communications.
Too many CTAs
Only give one call-to-action per email — that’s a golden rule. Anything more can confuse your recipients and send mixed signals. In the end, the original purpose of your message will be lost. This is particularly relevant for cold outreach, because nothing ruins first impressions more than a sender who fails to register a purpose.
Lack of detail
Sometimes it’s important to be explicit with your call-to-action, explaining exactly what you wish your recipients to do. If you leave it to them to join the dots, you diminish your chances of starting a B2B relationship. If you can’t relate to all these issues, don’t worry. Here’s how you can improve your closing statement and make your call-to-action clear, friction-free and compelling.
Always offer an easy way
Don’t make your prospects think you need a lengthy response. The more friction-free your email communication is, the more positive an image you will create for your brand. This is particularly relevant for those who wonder how to write a follow-up email without being a nuisance. For instance, we keep our follow-up emails as uncomplicated as possible… by unleashing a T-Rex.
Hello [Name], I sent you some emails regarding our services a while ago but haven’t had a reply. So may I assume one of the following (please advise):
- You’re interested and you want to schedule a call
- You’re not interested at all
- You’re being chased by a T-Rex and can’t respond right now?
Whatever your answer is, please let me know. I’m getting worried!
Turns out, people love dinosaurs! Or, at least, they appreciate a good old Jurassic Park cameo. Anyway, we owe our pal T-Rex a steak for each lead he’s converted.
Feel free to try it! If your brand and specialization allow for some mischief, why hold back? As long as it fits well with your tone, you’re good to go.
Everybody prefers to be treated as an individual, more than part of a crowd. That includes your prospects. Each offer and CTA must sound unique and tailor-made. Do your best to indicate that your sales offer benefits your chosen prospects first and foremost.
Our sales executive [Name] has experience in [Vertical], so he will walk you through each step of building your Ideal Customer Profile for your 30-day trial, and ensure that your test leads will be as relevant and data-accurate as possible. You will be able to process your leads the moment we send them to you. If that sounds good, just let me know the best time to call you and we can schedule an appointment.
This is basically the follow-up to the “Make things easier” rule. Sometimes it’s better to let your prospect choose from given options rather than ask them to make the suggestions. For instance, if you want to schedule a demo call with your prospect, it’s better to offer them a selection of time-slots from which they can choose, rather than have them look for the right time themselves, because that can slow things down and kill motivation. By providing them with easy options, you relieve them of that extra work - and gently guide them towards a positive response.
Does next Monday at 11am or Thursday at 10am work for you?
Your email signature can be a powerful selling tool. It serves as a placeholder for basic information, like name, phone, title, and corporate site link, but there’s no reason why your signature can’t also relay more interesting stuff.
Show how you work. Don’t wait until your prospects request a case study, include a link to a showcase of your workflow and tools. Demonstrate your problem-solving, right there – it’s a great way to generate trust, secure replies and boost your selling chances.
Tell them something about yourself. Show a press release or article about your company, published by credible sources. It will illustrate your competence and the possibilities you offer. All you need to do is to add a short link to your signature.
Provide entertainment. If you have a YouTube channel with unique, informative educational content, link to that. Information hunger is real and your prospects will appreciate some food for thought.
Show expertise. If your company gives webinars, provide a link to the most relevant one, to inject more value into your offer and let your prospects see how much they can benefit from working with your knowledgeable team.
Is that it? Well, by now you are equipped with some useful ideas that should help you have some productive fun with your B2B emails.
Does it mean the lesson is over?
When it comes to B2B, there’s no such thing as too much insight.
We have much more to say about content development and the techniques you can use to add depth to your sales communications. In addition, we’ll certainly be talking about everything that happens after you click “Send”.
Per your request, we may even elaborate on such subjects as “What advantage does a business letter have over an email?” because we’re happy to explore any part of B2B correspondence and business culture.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned!
Good luck will all your B2B endeavors.