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Sales Prospecting Emails: 4 Great Examples

In today’s selling environment, the ability to deliver an effective sales email is absolutely essential to prospecting success. The phone is still a critical channel, but it is highly inefficient. According to to the outsourced demand generation and training firm, VorSight, it takes 22.5 dials before you can have a meaningful conversation. As a matter of fact, Coca Cola just disconnected their corporate voicemail. This has made connecting via email more important than ever, and the industry is responding, as evidenced by the rise of sales email applications such as YesWare, ToutApp, and SalesLoft. However, corporate buyers are getting more emails than ever before, with the combination of sales emails and those being sent via marketing automation. This means, while email is essential, your email will be ignored if you are not able to pierce through the high volume of emails your prospects receive daily with compelling email copy that provides value to your prospect. 

In today’s post, we will explore examples of effective prospecting emails sent by real sales and sales development reps. There are many critical tactics associated with successful sales emails, but there are three key points of emphasis:

1.  Create buyer-centric email copy – Every message from voicemails, emails, social outreach, and live call should focus on the prospect, not you, and answer the question: Why is it worth their time to speak with you? As you will see from the examples below, these emails are carefully crafted to connect with the buyer and not necessarily sell the product.

2.  Research the prospect to craft a personalized message – It’s very difficult to create buyer-centric email copy without researching the prospect. Great sales emails typically reflect a deep understanding of who the prospect is and what they care about.  Before writing your sales email, try to identify 2-3 key findings that you can mention and tie your value prop to. The emails below are great examples of emails written following prospect research.

3.  Combine touches within seconds of each other – Leaving a voicemail within seconds of your email will increase the likelihood of your prospect opening and responding to your email. This important best practice is not represented in the emails below but is worth including as you send your buyer-centric prospecting emails.

With that backdrop, let’s look at these emails:

How Twilio Leverages Ideas in their Outbound Prospecting Emails

The goal of this email was to get an executive level meeting with Starbucks. The sales development rep, Emerald Maravilla, wanted to start at the top (the CEO). Her approach was to email Howard Schultz a short list of new ideas for Starbucks that could be delivered using her company, Twilio. Before writing the email, she obviously had experience with the Starbucks brand, but nonetheless performed deep research on Starbucks to understand their current initiatives. That research enabled her to propose specific ways that Starbucks could leverage Twilio.

Emerald’s approach is a great way to interest executives. Executives respect new ideas. As the sales author Jill Konrath once said: “People respond to ideas even if they are wrong.” This type of email requires heavy research and thought. As such, it is a tactic best suited for high value prospects. 

Email breakdown:

1.  Show the prospect that you are excited – In the opening paragraph, she uses the word explicitly: “excited.” Prospects have a choice on whether to spend time with you and what she is saying to the buyer is: “I have been thinking about you and I am excited to share my ideas.”

2.  Come up with a set of interesting ideas crafted for their business – The ideas Emerald shares in this email are very specific to Starbucks’ business and are actually a fun read. You can imagine the reader getting excited about the possibilities.

3.  Close with value – Many outbound emails default to “setting up a demo to show you more” but the focus on Emerald’s close is to continue “idea-sharing” and to talk about how other companies are using Twilio. A hard close on a sales presentation would not be nearly as effective as her approach.

How YesWare Creates a Business Case for Engagement

This email came to me from Dakota McKenzie from YesWare. Whereas Emerald chose to share ideas, Dakota makes a business case for us to engage. Like Emerald’s email, it is thoughtful, impressive, and earned my respect. Step one in any relationship is to earn trust and Dakota earns mine by showing me he has a deep understanding of my business and has thought about why we should we connect.

Email breakdown:

1. Tell the prospect that you should talk whether they buy something from you or not – That is what Dakota’s first sentence said to me. Dakota set the table for this email by emphasizing how much we have in common and tells me he is focused on the value of an equal business relationship.

2. Provide a reason “why” we should engage – Dakota provides a business case for us to connect.  When you read it, you get the impression that deep research was involved. In actuality, Dakota was able to take publicly available information and tie it back to YesWare. This results in a very compelling case for engagement.

3. Close for a business relationship versus a product relationship – The emphasis of Dakota’s close is on exploring how we can work together to achieve common goals. Based on the rest of the email, I don’t see why I wouldn’t.

Outbound Sales Email

How Kapost Makes Trial Follow-Up Emails Buyer-Centric

I received this email from an SDR named Teddy Tehrani from Kapost. He was following up on a trial download. For many organizations, this type of follow-up email is canned and sent via automation. For many lower-value trials, a canned response is probably the right thing to do. However, if your goal is to actually talk to someone and ultimately sell to them, the most effective strategy is to craft a compelling, buyer-centric email. What I really liked about this email was the amount of research that Teddy did on me in advance of writing the email. It gave me the impression that the email was a personal note, which stands out from the rest of the canned trial emails one receives on a daily basis.

Email Breakdown:

1. Connect with the buyer immediately – As with most inbound emails where a buyer has performed some type of activity, Teddy mentions the fact that I downloaded a trial in the first sentence. What got me to keep reading was the fact that he mentioned me in the second sentence and in this case, he mentioned my blog post. Because the email was about me, I was immediately compelled to read on.

2. Provide a personal perspective – Today, many sales emails mention your content (if you create content). They might write: ‘I loved your piece on XXX.” What made Teddy’s email different was the fact that he wrote a very personal opinion on the topic I was writing about. It told me that he had given my post a lot of thought and took the time to write something that was personal to me.

3. Deliver a more specific call-to-action  – If I had written an email like this one, I would have wanted to get a conversation out of it.  I would have written: “I’d love to set up time to talk more about your content strategy and tell you more about how other content producers use Kapost to support their strategies. Let me know a couple days/times that work for you and I will make it work on my end.” Maybe Teddy didn’t want to connect, but he had me gripped and then let me off the hook by only offering to answer questions if I had any.

Kapost Followup Email
How Switch Merge Uses Video in Emails to Increase Response

This email is a bit different than the others. The company, Switch Merge, had identified the right executive to connect with and just had to get their attention. While this email is more product-centric than the other 3 examples in this blog post, it still represents a personalized way to engage with hard-to-reach prospects. The technology that powered this email is actually provided by Switch Merge and it allows organizations to take explainer videos and personalize them to the recipient such as including name, company, etc. These types of emails can be very effective with busy executives who can view an explainer video and understand who you are and why you are unique in a quick, visually appealing way. 

Email breakdown:

1. Personalize the experience – This video stands out from others because it is personalized to the prospect’s name, company, and title. These personal touches give the prospect the feeling that this video was for them.

2. Deliver a call-to-action in your video content – Sales people often send content without a significant call-to-action: “Here is a piece of content you might find interesting.” In this case, the call-to-action is built into the video to help support your real request — to get a meeting.

3. Use video viewer data to determine your next steps – Many sales email tools are powerful because they tell the sales person whether someone opened or viewed their email. In this case, the sales person will know whether someone actually viewed the video and can continue to pursue this prospect knowing they have a high-level understanding of what you do.

Switch Merge Video



These emails are distinct in their own ways, but they offer great examples of how to deliver a differentiated email experience to the prospect. Not surprisingly, each of these emails achieved successful outcomes. 

For free tools to help you create your own sales prospecting emails, click here.

Craig Rosenberg is a co-founder and Chief Analyst at TOPO and blogger on the Funnelholic sales and marketing blog. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Great examples. They also highlight the importance of picking the right target recipient – sending that email to Howard Schultz at Starbucks is what makes it work.

  • Richard Harris

    Really great post and thanks for sharing some best practices with real world examples.

  • Thanks! One thing that we recommend and that works for us is specifically offering two dates and times for a follow-up or demo. Typically two different days of the week, one in the morning, one the afternoon. This works really well.

  • Hi Craig,
    You hit the nail on the head!

    I used to work for a company that blast emailed 100s of people everyday, 30% bounced, and the open rate was close to 8%. As with everything, with emails (cold emails or otherwise), the more you put in, the more you get out. Knowing who your prospect is, what they’ve been doing, makes all the difference.

    E.g. If i wanted to reach Craig, wouldn’t it be awesome if i knew your personal email address your phone, your twitter, your quora in one place I could research you, and craft an awesome, relevant email.

    I now work for a company called http://rocketreach.co , that solves exactly this problem (and its free)

    E.g here’s what I found out about you.

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