You just received a fresh lead from marketing. It’s time for you to send a compelling sales email. But how do you effectively start a conversation that will eventually result in closing the deal?
After all, the average recipient gets nearly 150 emails a day and deletes close to half of them. If you want to make sales, your emails need to stand out from the pack.
With the right sales email examples as your starting points, you can craft the kind of messages that capture the reader’s attention and have a good chance of leading to a sale.
How to write a sales email that stands out
- Write engaging subject lines
- Make opening lines nongeneric
- Tailor the body length to your audience
- Avoid talking about yourself
- Include a clear call to action and next steps
- Send the email at the right time
Before jumping straight into sales email examples, let’s take a look at what constitutes a well-written sales email.
The best sales emails are focused on the customer’s time and needs. That means personalizing every aspect of the message, from the subject line to the CTA.
Key components of the best sales emails
Write engaging subject lines
Make opening lines nongeneric
Tailor the body length to your audience
Avoid talking about yourself
Include a clear call to action and next steps
Send the email at the right time
Nearly half of all email recipients open an email based solely on the subject line. Compose subject lines that ask questions, present data-based insights, or speak to a specific pain point the prospect faces.
"Subject lines are important because it’s the first thing people see when they open your email," said Courtney Gupta, Customer Experience Enthusiast and Former SMB Account Executive at Zendesk. "Make sure your entire subject line is visible on desktop and mobile. It also helps to include the prospect's name, a short question, or an idea about something specific to their needs. If you have a mutual connection with the prospect, you could try something like 'x person said to get in touch.'"
Your email subject line may have gotten you past the front door, but now your opening line needs to encourage the recipient to keep reading.
Try to open with personalized lines such as “I loved your blog post ...” or “I was excited to hear about your company’s product launch…” You may also be able to tailor your opening line by referencing the recipient’s new role, their competitor’s recent actions, or a shared connection you two have. If you can’t get too personal, citing a relevant statistic could catch their attention.
Just be sure to skip the generic “Hi, my name is ...” intro, which wastes time and isn’t customized to the reader.
"Make the email as personalized as possible. Do research about the person: Look at their LinkedIn or website and try to add personal bits of information like if you see a college they went to or their hometown," said Gupta. "Or, if it’s not personal to that person, make it personal to their company. You can mention if they got funding or comment about an article you read about them. Prospects get so many emails every day so you need to do something that doesn’t look like it’s an automated, general email."
An oft-cited Boomerang study concluded that “emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%.” However, more recent research by Prospect.io found that sales emails with roughly 300 words had much better response rates than those with fewer than 100 words.
It largely depends on your recipient—a short, cold email to a busy exec can be a good way to get your foot in the door. But if you’re targeting a high-ticket B2B purchase (or writing to someone who shares a common acquaintance), a longer, more detailed email can help establish a relationship. Just be sure the body of your email is to the point and extremely digestible.
An email recipient wants to know what you can do for them, not about how wonderful you and your company are. Research your contact on their website and social media to learn everything you can about their needs and interests.
Don’t make the reader guess what they should do next. Do you want to present a demo? Discuss your offering during a quick call? Provide direction for the reader to keep the conversation going.
"You always want to end the email with a question or statement that's not just a yes or no answer. Don’t just ask: 'Does this work for you?' Try to make it an open-ended question, like 'how do you feel about what I just said or how do you feel about us talking Monday?' and put your calendar invite," explained Gupta. "Focus on a call to action that encourages the prospect to respond or do something actionable."
Timing is everything when it comes to sales emails, according to Gupta.
"Look for key moments like when the company gets funding, if it acquired another company, if there are leadership changes, if it launched a new product, or if the person you're emailing got promoted," said Gupta.
Keeping these best practices in mind, let’s analyze six sales email examples and why they work.
6 winning examples of sales emails done right
Sales email example #1: An experiment with 1,000 cold emails reveals short subject lines win
The average office worker receives hundreds of emails a day. The sales email subject line is your opportunity to stand out and prove that your email is worth opening. Shane Snow, an author and cofounder of Contently, and Jon Youshaei, Instagram's Product Marketing Manager, performed an experiment to determine what type of subject line and sales email would get a response from busy executives.
First, they gathered email addresses of 1,000 of the busiest businesspeople in America, including 500 VP- and C-suite executives from the Fortune 500, and 500 C-level execs from the Inc. 500. Then, they wrote 10 versions of a simple email asking for the executives’ opinions on cold emails. Here you can see one of the most successful versions:
Subject Line: Quick Question
The two subject lines they tested were “Quick Question” (51% open rate) and “15 Second Question for Research on Annoying Emails”(48% open rate). Although the open rate was somewhat similar for both emails, the “Quick Question” subject line had double the response rate, accounting for 66.7% of all replies.
Why it’s effective:
“Quick Question” is short and direct—two elements of a good subject line. The ideal length for a subject line is around 41 characters, or roughly seven words. Not only do short subject lines scan more quickly, but they’re also less likely to get cut off when displayed on mobile devices.
Sales email example #2: Pique a reader’s interest with an intriguing question
The best sales email subject lines aren’t just short—they’re also compelling. But how do you really pique someone’s interest with just a few words? Sometimes a quick, cryptic question can do the trick.
The B2B lead generation service CIENCE reviews thousands of emails for their clients, curating lists of the best (and worst) sales email examples they find. One email that earned a spot on the “best” list perfectly demonstrates how to write an intriguing subject line:
The sender used the subject line “How do you pay [name of employee]?,” asking about a remote hire who is based in a country different from the email recipient’s company. The seemingly odd question then sets up a discussion about the potential pain points associated with international workers (compliance issues, money transfers, etc.) Finally, the email’s author reveals that their company can provide a solution to these pain points.
Why it’s effective:
Imagine you manage the employee being name-dropped in the subject line. Wouldn’t seeing your name catch your attention? And wouldn’t the out-of-left-field question make you a little curious? At least interested enough to open the email to find out what the sender is talking about? A provocative subject line is sometimes all it takes to get someone to open and read your sales email.
Of course, you don’t want to come across as spammy. Try to strike a level of personalization that shows you’ve researched your prospect but not invaded their privacy.
Sales email example #3: Personalized intro doubles reply rate
Along with the subject line, the opening line is a critical component of emails that sales reps often get wrong. For example, using an opening line such as “My name is Brad” sounds like it’s from a generic template, which can negatively affect your reply rate.
The best sales emails resonate because they speak directly to the reader. The marketing analytics software company Directive Consulting learned that lesson when they were trying to boost the reply rate for their guest-blogger outreach. Out of 20 to 50 emails per week, the team was only receiving two to four positive replies.
Here is the company’s initial, poor-performing email script:
The email example above features a bland, impersonal introductory line. It then segues to a long, boring explanation of who the sender is and what their company does.
So Directive tried a more creative variation of the same message. In the newer version, an engaging header with the sender’s picture and blurb replaces the original introduction.
Thanks to the new email template, Directive's reply rate increased from 8% to 16%.
Why it’s effective:
The opening line is made more personal by using the words “you” and “your” (more engaging for the reader than “I” and “we”). It also gets straight to the point: “I am emailing you because I would love the opportunity to create a piece of content for your blog.” The line invites the reader to go further if they want to learn more about the content opportunity. Meanwhile, the sender’s bio has been turned into an image, so it’s no longer taking up valuable real estate in the body of the email.
Sales email example #4: LeadFuze’s cold email formula grew revenue
People are busy. Many don’t have time or the attention span to read lengthy emails that beat around the bush. If your message is too long-winded, readers may bail before they even reach your CTA.
According to LeadFuze’s founder, Justin McGill, some of the best sales emails employ the “QVC Formula” for getting straight to the point. Ask a question, present your value proposition, and then include a clear call to action, such as “Interested in a demo?”
Take a look at one of LeadFuze’s sales email examples to see how the three-step process plays out:
Notice how the email attracts the reader’s attention without drowning them in text. The entire message can be read in less than 30 seconds.
LeadFuze’s cold email approach has paid off: In just one year, the company used cold email to grow company revenue to $30K per month.
Why it’s effective:
The body of the email is less than 70 words. It asks a quick question, presents the pain point LeadFuze solves, and then asks for a meeting — personal, short, and effective.
Two other great elements of this email? The subject line asks a simple, compelling question: “Need some more leads?” And beneath the signature, it also includes a P.S. at the end: “If you aren’t the right person to speak to about this, let me know. Also, if you’d rather I not follow up with you - you can let me know that too!”
That’s a quick, efficient way of covering all your bases in case you’re not reaching out to the right prospect.
Sales email example #5: Jake Jorgovan’s personalized sales emails generated $12K
A good rule of thumb for making any sale? It’s not about you — it’s about the customer.
Creative strategist Jake Jorgovan took this lesson to heart and created personalized cold emails to send to leads (rather than sending batches of generic emails). His approach worked. The following email example generated $4,250 for Jorgovan.
Why it’s effective:
Before sending his emails, Jorgovan researched his target market and made sure the material he was sending was relevant to the recipient. Notice how the second paragraph of the email shows that Jorgovan is already familiar with the recipient’s needs.
Review your target persona before sending cold sales emails. This will help you create personalized emails that speak to the reader’s pain point.
Another tactic that Jorgovan used was including a relevant case study to back up the claims he was making about his company. His advice? Make sure your case study is relevant to the prospects you are emailing.
Sales email example #6: Crazy Eye Marketing’s calls to action increased their reply rate
A pushy sales email (e.g., Buy my product!) is a great way to end up in the Trash folder. So Crazy Eye Marketing experimented with the opposite — a CTA that wasn’t pushy.
The company ran a cold email campaign for a small mobile app company. Working with 4,897 email addresses, they composed five different email series to determine the best sales email sequence.
The most effective one? A three-email sequence with clear CTAs. The first email in the series asked for only 15 minutes of the reader’s time.
Email #1 received a reply rate of 8%. The two additional follow-up emails received a similar reply rate.
The other email series asked readers to respond to a “strange question,” give the sender a call, or purchase the app. None performed as well as the “15 minute” CTA, which presented the easiest and most unambiguous ask.
Why it’s effective:
The reader knows exactly what to do at the end of the email (say yes or no to a 15-minute meeting), and the request is a small ask.
Another great lesson from this case study is to keep sending emails, even if you don’t receive a response to the first one. Forty-four percent of sales reps give up after the first email, even though 80% of sales require at least four follow-ups. Reach out to your contacts more than once. In the experiment above, it was the second email that boasted the best reply rate.
Use these sales email examples to write a sales email prospects want to respond to
The best sales emails often take time to hone. With these sales email examples as your guide, you can start crafting a compelling message to that hot lead from marketing. Use the examples above as a launching point, and then test and refine your messages to discover what works.
And with the Zendesk Sales Suite, you can create and save unlimited sales email templates and customize them for specific prospects. You can also use integrations like Mailchimp to test email variations—like different subject lines and CTAs—to see which ones are the most effective.