How to Write a Sales Email in 10 Steps (+ Free Template)

Read our article to learn how to write a sales email from start to finish that gets opens, reads, and positive replies from your potential buyers.

A sales email is a message that businesses send to leads to pitch a product or service in an effort to create a sales opportunity or influence a purchase. Typically, sales reps send a sales email directly to a potential buyer to request a call so they can further qualify the lead and get them interested in a product or service. However, marketers often also write these emails as part of email marketing drip campaigns or nurturing sequences after a lead provides their email.

A sales email usually refers to a message you send to prospects who have engaged with your company. Check out our guide on how to write a cold email if you’re looking to reach out to brand new leads.

Sales Email Format & Free Template

In our article on sales email templates for various scenarios, we created a free sales email template that you can download and use, including 11 niche-specific examples. The template outlines and follows the standard format of a sales email, which includes the from and subject lines, the opener, the pitch, and the call-to-action.

When you claim the template, first customize it to fit your business and sales situation, then personalize it for each prospect. We’ll weave snapshots of the filled-out template throughout this article to help you visualize how to follow the 10 steps for writing a sales email from start to finish.

How to Write a Sales Email in 10 Steps

With our template in mind, let's now go over the steps to write an intriguing, personalized sales email that will inspire each recipient to open it, read it fully, and respond to your call-to-action. The steps start with preparing to write your email. Next, you'll draft the email, including the from and subject lines, and send it. Finally, you'll measure key metrics and improve them for future sales emails.

how to write a sales email

Let's get into the details for each step so you can feel confident in your ability to execute each one properly and receive positive replies from decision makers. We'll start with determining what you're trying to achieve by sending the email in the first place so that this goal can guide you througout the remaining steps.

1. Determine the Purpose of Your Sales Email

Before putting fingertips to keyboard, decide what your sales email is trying to achieve. That could be booking a demo with a hot lead or simply trying to get an expression of interest from a cold potential lead. Knowing the purpose will help you strategically craft a personalized email that gets the lead interested and entices them to follow your call-to-action (CTA). 

Brainstorm around the following categorized questions before writing the email: 

  • Lead: Who am I trying to reach? What kind of lead are they, and what interaction(s) have they had with my business so far?
  • CTA: What action am I trying to get the lead to take?
  • Product or Service: What am I trying to sell the lead, and why (broadly) do I believe it's a good fit for them? 
  • Goal: What would my optimal outcome of this email be? 

The answers to the simple, straightforward questions above will help you write the email later on since different purposes breed different emails. An email trying to book a needs assessment call with a newer lead you don’t yet know well might include body copy about pain points, while an email meant to book a demo with a hot lead would focus on booking a demo and highlighting the demo process.

2. Research Your Intended Audience

Now that you understand why you’re reaching out to the lead, it’s time to gather information on them so you can speak directly to them. Researching the prospect on LinkedIn, other social media profiles, and their company and personal websites helps you gather the info you’ll use to personalize the email. A sales email’s personalization is critical to its success — if it strikes a chord with the lead, they’ll be more willing to follow the instructions in your CTA.

Look for the below information during research:  

  • Contact Information: If you don’t already have their email address, you’ll need that, of course. There are many ways to find emails, including using a reverse email lookup tool
  • Job Responsibilities and Title: Knowing these will help you write email copy that speaks to the lead's specific day-to-day tasks and concerns. 
  • Interests, Hobbies, and Awards: Depending on what you find, you can use one of these to open your email, which shows you’ve done your research and helps you create rapport. 
  • Company Details: Learn a bit about their company size, industry, departments, location, and anything else to clue you in on possible goals and needs.  
  • Potential Pain Points: Look for issues they could be struggling with, or make an assumption based on the information you've found. You’ll include these pain points in your pitch.

Aside from demonstrating a capacity to help this lead specifically, personalizing an email is a sign of respect. It proves to them that you did your homework before contacting them. This increases the chance they open it, read it, and follow your CTA. 

While research and personalization are important, avoid falling into the trap of researching too much. Five minutes per lead should suffice. If you can’t find a definite pain point, use one common to your current customers or their industry. Sales emailing is a bit of a numbers game — you want to send as many emails as possible to optimize your chances of finding interested people, so spend a few minutes on quality research and then move on.

3. Use a Sales Email Template

A sales email template outlines the different sections of your sales email and will help ensure that you hit your key points. These templates contain effective verbiage to include as well as fields to fill in and personalize to your circumstances and recipient. Templates help you speed up the writing process of your sales email without sacrificing personalization. Our free generic sales email template allows you to download it and customize it to meet your lead’s needs and your own. 

Any template you use should include the following components in order:

  1. From Line (3–7 Words): Tell your lead who you are before they even open your email.
  2. Subject Line (4–8 Words): Grab the lead’s attention and briefly introduce why you’re emailing.
  3. Opener (2–3 Sentences): Greet the lead, introduce yourself and your company, and explain the purpose of your email.
  4. Pitch (3–4 Sentences): Quickly describe your offer and why you think it’s a fit for them.
  5. CTA (2–3 Sentences): Ask for a follow-up call, meeting, demo presentation, or another request that aligns with the purpose of your email and your desired outcome.
  6. Signature (5–7 Lines): Sign off and list your contact information plus any links so the lead can research you or your company.

This general structure is effective for sellers trying to get a lead interested in their offer. Of course, we know there are countless specific sales scenarios in which you might need a sales email, so we also have a post on email templates for common sales scenarios.

Pro Tip:

As you create or borrow templates for different selling situations, save the effective ones as message templates in your email provider. That way, you can easily pull them up, find the perfect fit, and fill it in while formulating a new sales email. Check out the steps to save these templates for both Outlook and Gmail.

4. Choose a From Line

An email "from line" denotes who's sending the email. Write your from line in a way that encourages your lead to trust you and open your email. The from line should be brief, to the point, and relevant to the email itself. It will introduce you to newer leads, and it’ll help leads you’ve spoken with before remember who you are so they can trust you enough to open the message.

Here are a few from lines that are quick and effective:

  • {Your First Name} from {Your Company}: This is a good default, as it’s to the point and appropriate for most situations.
  • {Your First Name} @ {Your Company}: This is similar to the first option above but keeps the character count down and works well for less formal emails.
  • {Your First Name}, {Topic Relevant to Your Business} Expert: This focuses on what you and your company do, and it’s a good option if your company name doesn’t communicate its focus area; "expert" also helps you start to build credibility in the lead's eyes.

Write a from line that you believe is best for your lead. Although this is a quick step and the line itself should only be up to seven words, it’s important because leads who don’t understand who the email is from might simply mark it as spam and delete it. The from line is the first step to earning your lead’s attention.

Here's an example of a from line that follows our free template:

Sales email from line example

5. Personalize an Engaging Subject Line

Next, draft a subject line that will get the recipient to open your email. This works with the from line to give a first impression, so make it count. Take a look at your answers from the brainstorming session in step one and pull up the notes you took during research, then start writing a line that would inspire you to open the email if you were the lead. Keep it short (up to eight words), relevant to your lead’s interests or business, and genuine. 

Here are some tested subject lines you can personalize according to the sales scenario: 

  • Emailing a Lead to Book a Meeting: “Struggling with {Common Pain Point}?”
  • B2B Generic Outreach: “{Lead’s Job Title}s cut costs by 33% with {Your Product}” 
  • Outreach to a Mutual Connection: “{Connection’s Name} said we should chat”
  • Emailing Someone You Met to Plan Next Steps: “Great meeting you at {Event}”
  • Pitching a Website Visitor: “Thanks for visiting {Page the Lead Visited}”

Your perfect subject line depends on your industry, your target audience, and your objective for sending the email, so be sure you’re happy with it before moving on to the rest of the email, or at least before hitting “send.” While the above are good starting points, you should be testing them against other subject lines to find which is the most effective. We cover subject line testing in our tips section later in this article.

This is the subject line we created using our template:

Sales email subject line example

6. Craft an Opener That Sparks Interest

Your opener is the first 2- to 3-sentence paragraph of your sales email. Its purpose is to keep getting the recipient interested enough to read your pitch in the second paragraph. The best way to get a reader interested is by mentioning something about them in the first sentence before you introduce yourself and your company. 

Here’s the breakdown of a solid email introduction:  

  • First Sentence: Focus on the recipient by bringing up a shared connection; news you read about them; a part of their job responsibility; or even a shared hobby, interest, or experience. 
  • Second Sentence: Introduce yourself and your company and state why you’re reaching out specifically to them.  
  • Third Sentence: This is only necessary if you need more than two sentences to do the above. Three short, intentional sentences can be nice for flow and readability, as well. 

The reason you state for reaching out should be directly relevant to them so they immediately understand that this email is specifically for their eyes. This will get them interested in reading on.

Check out this example opener, which is highly personalized based on lead research:

Sales email opener example

7. Deliver Your Pitch

Now that you’ve shown that the email is meant specifically for the recipient and given them some context, they should be interested enough to read your second paragraph, where you'll attempt to build desire for your product or service by writing a short customer-focused elevator pitch that ends with your unique selling proposition (USP). The pitch should be 3–4 sentences to increase the chances of keeping your reader’s attention and helping them absorb the information.

Here are the two main components of your pitch: 

  • Elevator Pitch: Your elevator pitch names a problem or pain point you think the recipient has and then frames your product or service as the solution. We have an article on how to create an elevator pitch that shows you how to do this.
  • Unique Selling Proposition: Your USP is the differentiator that sets your company apart from the competition and adds tremendous value to clients. We have an article on how to create a USP that gives you examples of USPs and how to identify your own.

Some sellers will also do some name-dropping here to build credibility. They might mention that they work with certain reputable clients to give the recipient enough trust in you to justify replying. In sum, your pitch should explain why your solution offers value to this particular reader.

Below is the pitch we wrote using our template:

Sales email pitch example

8. End With a Strong CTA

A CTA asks the recipient to take specific next steps with you. In a sales email, the CTA depends on your desired outcome and sales process. This is typically to book a short discovery phone call between the potential buyer and yourself during which you’ll ask them a set of questions to assess if they’re a good fit for your solution. In two or three sentences, clearly request an action from them, and make it easy for them to follow it.

More specifically, here are some best practices for writing your sales email CTA: 

  • Make Your CTA Clear: Tell the potential buyer exactly what you want them to do by giving them instructions, and clearly state what will occur if they take the action (e.g., “a five-minute call where I’ll ask you some questions to learn about your needs”).
  • Make Your CTA Easy to Comply With: Few people will follow a time-consuming CTA. To make it easy, include a meeting scheduler like Calendly that allows them to choose open time slots on your calendar, or offer 3 times and dates in question format.
  • Remind Them of the Value of Taking the Meeting: Give them one more reason to follow through by reminding them of a benefit your solution brings that’s likely important to them. 

After your direct CTA, consider closing the email by thanking the recipient for taking the time to read your email and stating that you’re looking forward to speaking with them. This shows the potential buyer that you’re a courteous, friendly person that would be a pleasure to speak with.

This example CTA follows our general template:

Sales email call-to-action (CTA) example

9. Include an Email Signature

Your email signature is the information below your sign-off (sincerely, best regards, etc.) that helps the prospect research you, your business, and the product or service you’re pitching so that they can become comfortable replying to you and/or following your CTA. 

An effective email signature includes the below: 

  • Your Full Name and Job Title: Remind the lead who you are, and make it easy for them to look you up on LinkedIn or your company's "team" page.
  • Your Company Name and Website: Affiliate yourself with your company again to tell them you’re legitimate and can be trusted, and link out to the company site.
  • Your Contact Information: List your email address and phone number (ideally, your direct line rather than a general company number).
  • Links to Professional Profiles: Include hyperlinks to your personal LinkedIn profile as well as your company's social media profiles.
  • Link to Your Product or Service: Hyperlink the name of the product or service you included in your pitch to the lead so they can check it out for themselves.
  • Customer Testimonial: If you have a great testimonial that’s short enough to include, insert it here to increase your credibility.

A detailed email signature raises the chances of getting a reply from recipients. This is especially the case if you’re sending emails to leads that have only begun engaging with your brand — the reader can vet you and your business before replying to you. If you don’t include these details, the recipient will likely ignore you rather than taking the time to search you themselves, so be respectful of their time and make your interaction as easy as possible for them.

Your email signature should look similar to our example below:

10. Track Your Results & Improve

Track the results of your emails on both a large and small scale so you can understand what you’re doing right and what to change to increase your emails’ success. Big picture metrics like open and reply rates will help you test different subject lines, pitches, and CTAs, which will enable you to inch closer to optimization. And tracking each individual email is crucial so that you remember to follow up if the lead hasn’t responded within a few days. 

Use general CRM or email marketing CRM software to track the below:

  • Open Rate: What percentage of the leads you email are opening your email? In other words, how successful are your from and subject lines?
  • Click-Through Rate: What percentage of leads are clicking on the link associated with your CTA? Are there any changes you can make to your pitch or CTA to increase this?
  • Response Rate: What percentage of recipients are replying to the email, especially if you’re asking a direct question in your CTA?
  • Bounce Rate: Are a large enough percentage of your emails making it to your leads’ inboxes, or do you need to improve the way you’re finding email addresses?

Starting with these CRM metrics can help you understand how your sales emails are doing and infer what changes you might need to make. Eventually, you’ll start to discover other metrics that would be helpful to track, as well, and you’ll learn and improve more quickly. Adjusting your strategy according to this data is key to sending successful emails.

Top 6 Sales Email Tips for Higher Responses

Now that you understand the sales process for crafting the perfect email, let’s go over some tactics and best practices you can employ to optimize the chances that your potential buyer opens, reads, and replies positively to your sales email.

Test Your Subject Lines

To do this, send out 200 sales emails for the same situation — e.g., a request for a call with a lead who has engaged with your brand in a certain way. Pick two subject lines to compare, then use one for 100 emails and the second for the other 100. Then compare the open rates using your CRM or Chrome extensions like Mailtrack and Streak. Over time, you can do this test multiple times and as you collect more data, you’ll get closer and closer to finding your perfect subject line.

Keep the Email Short & to the Point

The ideal length of a sales email is between 50 and 200 words. As a general rule, the colder the lead, the fewer words you should use. This ensures that they actually read the whole email without losing interest. On the other hand, someone who knows you and your brand is more likely to read a slightly longer email, but brevity is a good strategy regardless.

Send Your Email at the Right Time of Day

Marketers typically recommend sending sales emails at 8am so that it’s at the top of a worker's inbox when they check in at 9am. But, the truly right time for you depends on the habits of your target audience. In general, the best time to send your sales email is when your potential buyers are beginning their workday since that’s when most check their emails, but if the employees in your target industry have an untraditional schedule, follow that instead.

The best way to find that ideal time is by collecting data on hundreds of your sales emails and their open rates. A better than average open rate is anything above 17.92% (the global standard). Then you can analyze which timeframes get the best open rates.

Send Your Email to the Right Person

Typically, the right person is someone who’d find your offer valuable and also has the power to purchase your solution (aka, the decision maker). This will be the person you nurture through your sales process. For instance, someone selling marketing software would likely contact the VP of marketing. This saves you time and keeps you from writing and sending an email to someone who won’t care about your offer because it has nothing to do with their life or job.

Sometimes, salespeople take a different approach and purposefully reach out to someone slightly higher on the corporate ladder than their ideal lead, asking for a referral down to the right person. Sellers do this if they’re unsure who the decision maker is or if they want to gain credibility from the higher-up’s referral. If you do this, your sales email will be the same besides your CTA, which will ask for a referral to the person in charge of evaluating solutions like yours.

Make the Recipient Smile

If you can make the recipient smile in the opening lines of the email, you’ve effectively engaged their emotions and the chances of them reading on are stronger. Some simple ways to make your recipient smile are the following:

  • Congratulate Them: If they’ve achieved some award, promotion, or big life event like a marriage, send your congratulations. 
  • Make Them Feel Important: Stroke their ego a bit by (truthfully) telling them their job responsibility is crucial, one of their blog posts is insightful, or their business idea is smart. 
  • Reveal Something About Yourself: Mention a connection you both have in the opening. It could be as simple as “I noted your office is in Ocean City, NJ. I used to visit my grandma there as a kid — those waves were no joke.” This shows your human side. 

Your potential buyers probably read hundreds of emails every day. Few of these emails make them smile. So this can be a way for you to stand out by putting in the extra effort.

Use Sales Engagement Software

Sales engagement software like Salesloft enables you to build and save email templates that auto-populate the empty fields with information for each recipient, drawing it from your CRM or another database. So if {job title} were an empty field in the template, it would be auto-filled if you had that data on the lead. This allows you to send personalized emails even faster.

These tools also enable you to build email sequences for various scenarios like “cold outreach to C-suite execs,” helping you craft and personalize entire sequences based on the attributes of the segment of your target audience. Plus, these tools come with analytics that allow you to test the effectiveness of your sales emails.


Additional Reading:

For more tips on how to write emails that will pique your leads' interest and inspire them to take action, check out our article on cold email tips. There, you'll find advice from expert sellers on prepping, writing, and following up on sales emails.

Bottom Line: How to Write a Sales Email

Sales emails are an effective medium for connecting with potential buyers and getting them interested enough in your business offering to accept a meeting. The most effective sales emails are personalized to the recipient’s attributes, interests, desires, and pain points. And the more relevant the email is to the reader, the likelier it is to get a response. So, before writing your next sales email, research the recipient, step into their shoes, and think about what they want.

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