So, what is a sales email, and when would you use one?
A sales email is what it sounds like: an email you send when you want to make a sale.
In this email, you're persuading someone to take action and solve a problem they have. You use this email when you have an offer or something to sell (e.g., a product, service, software, or workshop).
The first part of any sale is asking, "Do you want this?" to your prospect. That ask is your sales email.
In this blog post, I'll show you what a great sales email looks like and share effective sales email examples and cold email templates you can use when writing your next sales email.
Overview of the framework for a successful sales email
Before we dive into sales email strategies, let’s look at the framework of a successful sales email.
A successful sales email has six parts:
- Subject line
- The hook or the first line where you present the recipient's problem
- Agitating the problem in the body of your email
- Segue to your offer
- The solution presented as a quick overview
- Call-to-action (e.g., "sign up" or "book a quick call", etc.)
So what does this look like in an actual sales email?
Here's an example of a sales pitch in the form of an email from Talia Wolf, founder of GetUplift:
See how Talia creates curiosity in her sales email subject line and makes you wonder why funnels fail.
Pro tip: You can learn more about how to write great sales email subject lines here.
Then she warms up her reader in the first line: “Marketing funnels made easy,” so she can introduce the real problem of getting traffic to your marketing funnel and getting your new audience to trust you right away.
Now Talia starts to agitate the problem. In the next several paragraphs, she amplifies the pain of this problem.
You should feel pain at this point in the email.
Only then does she segue into her offer with the simple phrase: “The truth is…”
In the last section of her email, she presents a quick overview of her offer. Even more, she gives you a link so you can take action and alleviate your pain.
Now that you have an overview of how a sales email looks like, here are the three strategies for writing sales emails that I've found work really well:
- Storytelling in a sales email
- Straight-up sales email
- Behind-the-scenes sales email
Let's dig in, shall we?
1. Storytelling in a sales email
For this sales email strategy, you're tapping into the superpower of stories.
Humans are wired to retain information via stories. We have been telling stories for thousands of years.
So why does storytelling work so successfully for sales emails?
When you tell stories in your sales emails, you keep your recipients engaged, and your message sticks in their brains longer.
Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, found stories are remembered up to 22x more than facts alone. Talk about sticking power.
In fact, in my last two launches, I used storytelling in most of my sales emails. Rather than seeing my normal stats decrease during a launch phase, as is typically the case, I saw my stats stay steady. In some cases, they even rose, like for the click-through rate.
Stories embowed my average launch list of 632 beautiful humans with superpowers:
- Average open rate was 37%.
- Average click-through rate of 8.45%.
- And low unsubscribes of 5-10 people per sales email.
I've even used stories in my cold sales emails with my private clients. Below is a cold sales email taken from a story-based cold sales email sequence for one of my private clients.
This cold sales email ended up converting even skeptical software developers:
Andrew couldn't believe the timing.
The world went on lockdown.
Wasn’t personal, but it sure felt like it.
Just two weeks before, on March 3, 2020, he'd launched [company name]'s new website.
Now his entire customer base was sheltering at home.
Buying sheets was a sensory experience: feel the soft sheets against your cheek, touch the silkiness.
Now that wasn’t an option.
Not to mention sheets was an industry steeped in brand loyalty.
Getting new customers felt like Mount Everest to climb.
Andrew, director of ecommerce at [company name], felt like a gambler placing his life savings on the green felt table. Putting all his bets on their new ecommerce store.
He was beyond stressed.
Okay, website, he thought. We gotta fix you and increase your conversion rates.
What do I need to do?
In tomorrow's email, you'll find out what he did.
How to write a sales email that includes storytelling:
- Decide what message you want to leave recipients with or what action you want them to take.
- Think backward to a story that illustrates or relates to the message you want the recipient to have or the action you want them to take.
- Start your email in the middle of the action. Think of a movie where it drops you into the action with Tom Cruise hanging off the side of an airplane. Start your story there for your email: right in the middle of the action.
- Tell your story and follow the story arch. That arch goes like: normal life → explosion/change → new normal.
- Link your story to your offer with a segue of, “Here’s why I thought of you” or “So why am I telling you this?”
That’s great, you might be saying. But what stories do I tell? How do I know what is attention-grabbing for my audience?
That’s a fantastic question.
In Stories that Stick, author Kinda Hall recommends three core stories:
- Value Story: Describe how your product or service impacts the user. Hall says, “If you can’t talk about your product or show it to anyone, what would you say to customers?”
- Founder story: Tell the story of your business creation, and be sure to include the bloody moments that led to eventual victories. Balance those negative emotions with what positive emotions grew from them.
- Customer Story: A story told by the customer from their point of view.
These three core stories work well as individual sales emails. In my consulting business, I wrote sales emails based on those three core stories in my last two launches, and they converted really well.
2. Straight-up sales email
This type of sales email isn't pretending or disguising itself: it's a sales email. Usually, when you think of sales reps sending an email, this email is the one you immediately envision.
A direct email asking for the sale.
Sometimes this sales email is written using the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution) copywriting formula. Always, this sales email is unapologetically selling.
Use this formula to switch the pace of your sales emails, especially if you're using a sequence because you want to switch up the cadence to keep your audience engaged.
Also, this style appeals to the quick decision makers in your audience.
For example, this sales email for my signature program, Zero Opens to Full Pipeline Elite, that I sent had a 44% open rate and a 10% click-through rate:
Here’s a straight-up sales email example from Neville Medhora, founder of Copywriting Course.
In this email, he doesn’t hide the fact he wants you to buy:
See how he is direct with you, talking right away about the problem and setting up his offer as the solution. No sugar-coating the problem, the pain, or the ask.
How to write a straight-up sales email:
- Determine your offer and what problem it’s providing a solution for.
- Start off your email with the problem your prospect is facing.
- Agitate the problem — or “place your finger in the wound,” as copywriting expert Ry Schwartz says — and make it hurt for the prospect.
- Introduce your offer as the solution to your prospect’s problem.
3. Behind-the-scenes sales email
This sales email acts as a sneak peek behind the curtain. Meaning: you take the prospect by the hand and show them a part of the creation of what you're selling.
As Claude Hopkins, one of the original direct response copywriters, said:
“The product should be its own best salesman. Not the product alone, but the product plus a mental impression, and atmosphere, which you place around it.”
Even though this is a highly powerful strategy, hardly anybody does this behind-the-scenes sales email. Perhaps because it's scary to peel back the curtain. Perhaps because they're caught up in creating the product or service.
Only that's a mistake.
One that you won't make, because your reader loves to feel part of something bigger, to feel the rush of creation... without the hard, dirty work of creating.
Conversion Rate Experts have used this strategy to get conversion improvements of 67%, 101%, and 114% for clients in weight loss, B2B products, and health supplements.
According to them, this strategy works for six reasons:
- It adds credibility to your claims and shows why you're the right person to solve the prospect's problem.
- It’s concrete; no abstract terms here.
- It tells a story.
- Behind-the-scenes gives you something new to say.
- You have something to say when the product’s benefits or features are not easily seen. Or if those benefits are not really interesting.
- Paints “romance” all over the product and adds an emotional element.
I've experimented with behind-the-scenes sales emails, like when I invited my email list to see behind the scenes while I updated my program. And even weigh in with their opinion and influence what I included in the program. Open rates were sky-high at an average of 61%.
Or when this sales email on cart-close day in my launch — a day when engagement typically drops — showed a sneak peek into a course module.
This sales email had a 3% click-through rate and picked up some late-in-the-game sales:
All because I peeled back the curtain and gave my audience a sneak peek at what I was creating.
How to write a behind-the-scenes sales email?
- Find a part of your creation process that you don’t talk about because, maybe, it feels too messy or strange to talk about.
- Record a quick video or GIF that shows you creating that piece of your product. Think about showing your prospect around on set if you were a movie actor. Chris Pratt does a great job of this on his Instagram profile, if you want inspiration.
- Tell the story of how you’ve created this part of your product.
Always remember the follow-up emails
When you’re sending sales emails, be sure to follow up.
Research has found that only 2% of sales are made during the first contact, meaning in your initial sales email. If you don’t follow up on your sales email, you stand to potentially lose 98% of your sales.
And your prospect's inbox is a crowded place. In 2019, the Radicati Group found that 128 business emails were received per day.
When you send more than one sales email (or follow-ups), you increase your chances of your email being seen. You also help your prospect recognize the priority of your sales email.
That’s what a follow-up email does:
- Makes your sales email stand out.
- Helps the recipient recognize its importance.
- And helps prospects make a decision as to your offer.
- Which allows you to gather in that 98% of potential sales.
For example, if someone emailed you but never followed up, you’d shrug and assume it wasn’t important. If that email or issue was important, that someone would chase you down and get resolution to their question or issue.
That’s what you’re doing with your follow-up sales emails.
When sending your follow-up email, follow these rules:
- Keep your follow-up email in the same thread as your original email.
- Make your follow-up email short and to the point.
- Be polite and considerate to your sales email prospects' other work demand when determining the timeline of your follow-ups.
Sometimes it’s hard to manage the whole follow-up process: you have to remember when and to whom you need to send a specific email. If you have a huge list of prospects, manual follow-ups can become a nightmare.
This is where you need to use automation. Hunter Campaigns allows you to send personalized cold outreach emails at scale and effectively manage all of your follow-ups.
You can even use custom attributes to personalize your emails (or follow-ups):
And you can easily schedule your follow-ups. Hunter Campaigns will do everything for you:
Additional read: How to Write a Follow-Up Email After No Response
4 effective sales email templates
Before I wrap up this guide, I wanted to share my four best-performing templates for sales emails:
1. Straight-up sales email
A straight-up sales email asks for the sale directly. This type of email works well because it appeals to the quick decision maker and to the busy person just trying to get through their emails.
Plus, this email is super clear, which eliminates any questions or confusion that might keep your prospect from saying yes.
2. Behind-the-scenes sales email
When you share a behind-the-scenes look at your product or service, it fosters a sense of creating together. Because your reader loves to feel part of something bigger, to feel the rush of creation... without the hard dirty work of creating.
3. PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution) sales email
The PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solution) formula is a proven direct-response copywriting formula. In this sales email, you state your reader’s problem, agitate the problem by amplifying the pain, and set up your offer as the solution to that problem.
4. Compliment-based sales email
When you open your sales email with a compliment, you warm up your prospect. That way, your email feels less like a stranger emailing out of the blue, and more like a colleague of a colleague emailing.
In fact, research has found that receiving a compliment is just as thrilling to the brain as receiving cash. Talk about good vibes.
Writing a sales email is an important skill, especially if you want to make sales for your business.
When you write an effective sales email, you provide your business with the cash flow it needs to survive.
When you write your next sales email, tap into one of these three strategies to write a top-shelf sales email:
- Storytelling sales email: tell your founder story, a customer story, or a story about the value of your product or service.
- Straight-up sales email: a direct, asking-for-the-sale email.
- Behind-the-scenes sale email: show a bit of the process of making your product or service.