When done right, outreach emails are a powerful tool for any sales cadence. Our team has received thousands of prospecting emails, most of which are stone cold. Very few of them get opened, but the ones that do are either truly excellent or downright terrible. Our team dug into their inboxes for the best of the best (and the worst) emails we’ve ever received. At the end, you’ll find actionable tips for writing your own prospecting emails.
Names, companies, and other identifying information has been removed to protect the innocent.
From: the best seller on earth
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2018 5:58 PM
To: Steve Richard
Subject: xxxxx says Hoya Saxa!
I see you went to Georgetown – I grew up a big Hoya fan! (Although my alma mater is across the beltway)
As both a DC native and a member of a BIG Georgetown family let me be the first to say – HOYA SAXA!
I wanted to inquire whether you’d be the best point of contact to discuss ExecVision’s cap table? As an introduction, xxxxx helps over 8,000 companies minimize the
- time spent reconciling your cap table
- back and forth with law firms
- costs associated with 409a valuations
Do you have 5-10 minutes this week to discuss how we can help?
What’s Great About This Email?
- This rep did their research. They absolutely hit the nail on the head with something personal that resonates with Steve–his alma mater.
- They asked about his role related to the topic
- The rep provided social proof (Extra credit would have been awarded for company names in addition to the numbers)
- There is a clear Call-to-Action
This email has one caveat. The rep overlooked an important fact: our parent company, Vorsight, is already a customer. It can be difficult to figure out the ExecVision-Vorsight relationship and this email is fantastic so we’ll let it slide.
Date: 6/1/18 12:28 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Steve Richard
Subject: connecting Steve and xxxxxxxxxxxx
Nice to meet you, hope you’re enjoying your Friday! I was looking for the best person to speak with over at Vorsight and noticed that you went on a Duck Boat Tour in DC! My younger cousins both play baseball down there (one at GW and one at Georgetown) and last year my family and I took a Duck Boat tour when we went to visit them. I’ll admit, at first I felt a little ridiculous driving in a boat down the street but it turned out to be a really cool experience.
On another note, I work for a company called xxxxxxx providing real-time IT support for Washington D.C. startups and smaller teams all through xxxxxx. Unlike the traditional IT support model xxxxx proactively manages, monitors and troubleshoots your technology along with making purchases for devices.
I was doing some research on Vorsight and wasn’t able to find anyone on the team with “IT” in their title which means you’re probably handling IT similar to how our customers were; someone in the office was labeled the “de-facto IT person” or they were outsourcing to a third party provider who took way too long to respond and overcharged them.
I’d love to learn more about Vorsight and see how we can give time back in your day and cut down on costs. Would you be the best person to speak to about this?
Thanks in advance,
What Makes it so Good?
- The rep referenced an image Steve recently posted on LinkedIn
- Both qualifying parameters are relevant to the business
- There was an excellent transition into a probable pain point
- Another clear CTA
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:30 PM
Subject: Data Quality Initiatives, Solved.
I tried to connect with you to discuss if you were the right contact from Vorsight, Inc. to have a short conversation about data quality.
The saying goes, data ages like fish, not wine–it needs to be cleaned up and maintained to avoid spoilage.
xxxxxxx offers a complete, 360-degree solution that guarantees a consistently clean database filled with the most up-to-date, actionable sales and marketing intelligence.
Are you available for a few minutes later this week to explore how we do it? Say, Monday next week at 3 pm EST, or Tuesday at 11 am EST?
P.S. Check out this complimentary eBook to see how xxxxxxx consolidates the functionality of ten separate vendors.
What Makes it Good?
- The rep did a good job connecting a pain point
- The analogy they used is lighthearted and puts the reader’s guard down
- The rep included a relevant content piece
- This email could benefit from a shorter intro, but overall it’s pretty good
Sent: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 3:42 PM
Subject: Tried reaching you earlier
Last week I sent an email to XXXXXXX. I came across your LinkedIn profile and thought it might also makes sense to include you in any potential conversations about your sales team’s lead generation. Do you have a few minutes for a call together?
We’ve created a tool that identifies which prospects are actually interested in your services, and then sends targeted email campaigns to engage them. This saves Reps a TON of wasted time making random cold calls that would be a dead end. As a result, you’ll typically generate 2-3X more appointments.
Do you have a few minutes to explore this for your team? Otherwise, if I should direct my message to someone else, please let me know. Thanks!
What Makes it Just Okay?
- The rep did a great job outlining a pain point that’s likely to resonate with the prospect, but the rest of the email was average
- They have the right person, but it may just be luck
- The rep brought up the prospect’s LinkedIn profile, but never mentioned anything about it
- There isn’t a lot of customization and it looks like a field is missing which signals that this may be a mail merge
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 4:11 PM
Subject: Left voicemail, wanted to reach out
My name is xxxxxxx and I work for ;xxxxxxx, a sales intelligence platform that scrapes the web to uncover sales opportunities. We currently work with 1500 companies globally that use us to identify new companies to work with, and I’m confident we can add value in the same way for you.
In practice, we can:
- Identify every B2B company that is growing, hiring new sales reps, opening new offices, recently received funding, has a new product launch as a few examples.
- Monitor the companies that have invested in tools like yours before, and notify you of buying signals that would suggest an the right time to reach out.
If you’re open to learning more, I’d like to schedule a 20-minute demo to share how we can help. Do you have time Thursday or Friday??
Thanks Kristen, looking forward to connecting!
What Makes it Bad
- While the email is visually pleasing, it lacks depth
- There is nothing specific to the prospect or their company
- The example of who they work with is super generic
Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:18 PM
Subject: COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT RESUME FOR YOUR URGENT REVIEW
Attached is a COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT RESUME full of random QUALIFICATIONS that have NOTHING TO DO with your hiring needs!
Also, I want you to pay me an INSANELY HIGH FEE to hire my irrelevant candidate.
Sound good? I will not be expecting your call because no one ever calls me because this whole practice is ridiculous!
DESPERATE, ILL-INFORMED RECRUITER
We did not include the attachment but imagine a pseudo-resume with the same sarcastic tone and quick “Want to talk?” CTA at the bottom.
- This rep gets points for creativity, but that’s it
- The email and the attachment look like a virus
- No one likes to be SCREAMED AT THROUGH A COMPUTER (Why use caps when bold, italic, and underline will do?)
- There is no information about their services or any call to action in the copy
Sent: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 1:10 PM
Subject: Prospecting Program – Get Your Team Selling
Would you be open to an outbound pay-per-appointment/lead approach to generate prospects for your sales team? There are qualified prospects out there your team is likely not reaching – and our team can be deployed to handle it within 2-weeks. xxxxxxx Inside Sales Reps open the door to C Level Execs, VPs and Directors using digital prospecting and outbound calls to schedule appointments in your specified target market.
– Prospecting expertise in 27 B2B Complex-Sale Industries / Verticals
– Inside Sales Reps perform one-to-one Outbound Marketing to Executives exclusive to your Firm
– Interested Prospects with defined Interest / Need for your solution; Screened and Converted from your target market, role/title specific
– Pay-per-Appointment or Managed Inside Sales Service options
Talk to a Program Specialist; Or reply here with questions, feedback or a suggested day/time we can have an introductory call. Sound good?
Why Did This Email Fail?
- This rep is trying to sell outside appointment setting to Vorsight, an outside appointment setting firm.
Tips for Writing Prospecting Emails
- Have some personality, you’re not a robot. Maintain a professional, yet casual tone throughout the email. Be likable and sell yourself, it might just get you a reply.
- Don’t sacrifice value for a character limit. There is a lot of debate out there on how long a prospecting email should be. Ignore it. If you’re providing value that’s relevant, the prospect will read it.
- Include a pain point. Make it clear to the prospect that if they are missing out if they don’t look into what you’re selling.
- Write great subject lines. Crappy subject lines lead to unopened emails. Spend some time writing a decent subject line, but play it safe: emojis might work for your marketing team, but they might not work for selling.
- Leverage your network. When you leverage your Linkedin connections in your emails, you’ll see a much higher response rate.
- A/B test until you find the right messaging. Split testing allows you to find out what resonates with your prospects. Test your subject lines, your copy, what time you send emails, and anything else that makes sense.
- Use your research. If you’re taking the time to research your prospects, mention it in your emails.
Bonus Tip: It should go without saying, but if you’re sending the same message to hundreds or thousands of people, make sure you proofread it. You can see in a number of the emails above that there are typos or missing data fields. Little details like this can be the difference between getting a response and getting sent straight to the trash.
Join the conversation and share the best and worst prospecting emails from your inbox in the comments.
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