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The 5 Rules of Prospecting Emails

By now, you should all be aware that I despise (with a blinding passion) pre-canned, mass-blast email templates. That is not what an organization pays a salesperson to do, and you WILL be replaced at some point.

So, with that groundwork laid, these are the 5 Rules of Prospecting Emails for non-robot, human salespeople that take their stuff seriously.

1. Be Brief

I was going to write Keep It Simple, but then I’d have to finish that sentence with “Stupid” and you don’t need that negativity in your life.

It is mind boggling to me how many times I have seen a sales email pop up in my inbox (they’re easy to pinpoint just by the subject line) and have what looks like the first five chapters of a college textbook displayed in my preview pane. THERE IS NO QUICKER WAY TO HAVE YOUR EMAIL DELETED THAN WRITING A STUPID (couldn’t help it) NOVEL.

After carving the statue David, Michelangelo was allegedly asked about the difficulty in creating the masterpiece. His reply?

“I created a vision of David in my mind and simply carved away everything that was not David.”

I freaking love that.

Do that with your emails. Write it out, then carve away everything that is not “David”.

The human brain loves simplicity. Roughly 90% of decisions are made with the “subconscious brain”. A.K Pradeep wrote an incredible book called The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind on what psychologically drives people to buy, outlining just that. I highly recommend reading it.

2. Sound Human

It is so damn cringe-worthy having a prospecting email start with something to the tune of:

Good Afternoon Mr. Travagliante,

I trust this email finds you well and sincerely hope your day is one of great success.

The purpose of this email is to genuinely assist in your….

DELETE. Human beings crave symmetry in their relationships, meaning people gravitate to individuals that are in-kind. Have any of your friends EVER said something like that to you when you meet them at say a restaurant?? I would honestly think mine had a serious blow to the head.

The misconception about prospecting emails is they need to be this formal type of correspondence. I am here to tell you — they don’t. Something like the below is FAR superior:

Dion —

I noticed that you recently started your own consulting practice. First off, congratulations as I can imagine that is a huge undertaking.

Funny enough, I came across this article recently ( starting a consulting business. Figured it might be something worth a minute of your time to read.

As I am sure you are wildly busy to start the year, it would be great to grab 20 minutes of your time at a later date to discuss our CRM software geared specifically towards start-up businesses.

Do you have availability during any of the below timeframes?

  • Wed January 23rd: 12pm — 3pm ET
  • Thurs January 24th: 1pm — 4pm ET

Look forward to hearing from you.

Brief. Check.

Human. Check.

Let’s move on.

3. No Jokes/Memes

There are a time and place, and prospecting emails are neither.

Far too many blog posts and “thought leaders” are recommending things like sending memes, or a joke about why the prospect isn’t responding (one had a picture of a man running away from a rhino), or a lame comic strip. Don’t. Most of these ludicrous posts are by people that have never actually been in sales.

Any sales rep who sends me something like that I just assume is a total goober. Unless you read something about a prospect being a Dilbert comic aficionado, you’re taking a risk. You don’t know this individual.

Everyone needs more value added to their life. Not everyone wants to read some dumb joke. This isn’t to say you can’t use humor, just not jokes/memes that are transparently pre-canned. A safe bet is you’re not the only one using them.

4. Them. Them. Them.

This is something I preach constantly. Always think about your client/prospect. Therefore, always make your emails about them.

The dichotomy between Marketing and Sales within an organization is key here. One of THE preeminent thought leaders in sales, J Barrows, has written and spoken about this crucial topic. Marketing can brag about the company, the awards, the standing in the marketplace, the features, the benefits, etc. Sales need to build relationships. Therefore, all those wonderful things are irrelevant unless they add value directly to the prospect.

Marketing is scattershot. Sales are targeted.

This also means cutting back on your use of “I”, “me”, “our”, etc. You are obviously going to have to use some, but only in the context of relation to them.

5. Have the Next Step

You may have heard this once or twice before — there should always be the next step.

Your goal for any correspondence with a prospect is to get to the next step. This isn’t just Driving Ms. Daisy and you two are having a grand ole time. Believe me, the prospect will appreciate it too, their time is valuable.

Usually, the goal will be to secure a meeting. To make it easy on the prospect, refer to the sample email above (not the Mr. Roboto one) and offer up options. You also want to make sure to downplay the commitment you’re asking of them. After all, the first call with a prospect is a DISCOVERY CALL.

When you do secure a meeting, don’t you dare go into a demo, or I forbid you be in sales.


Well there you have it. The Five Rules of Prospecting Emails. Are you always going to get a meeting/response? Of course not. Cold prospecting is by far the worst conversion rate you will experience in sales. But these rules will undoubtedly increase your odds. Significantly.

Now go forth and get that cash homie.

To me, the greatest trash talker of all time was Muhammad Ali. There’s no one even close. And my favorite quote of his, in all its simplicity, is “I’m gonna show YOU how great I am”. Should be everyone’s sales mantra.

To pay tribute, this week’s song is “The Greatest” by Danger Twins.

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