4 Parts of a Highly Effective Outbound Sales Prospecting Email

Prospecting is critical to grow the sales pipeline.  I thought to share what I typically share with sales teams about the framework for making cold outreach.

Today prospects are too busy so outbound prospecting is harder than ever – Jill Konrath is well known for her writing about how prospects are too busy and frazzled and it’s impossible to get their attention. There is also a very high “noise-to-signal ratio” when prospects get too many  emails from other B2B companies and from your competition.  So you need to stand out and separate yourself from the pack in your prospect’s inbox.

I ask my teams to use the 4 steps/elements that Jeb Blount wrote about in Fanatical Prospecting: Hook/Relate/Bridge/Ask. More on that below.

But in the meantime, let me cover some basics.

Fundamentals of Prospecting:

  • Be buyer-focused (not self-focused)
  • Offer insights & value – always be helpful, add value to the buyer at every interaction
  • Personalize it – think of the one thing you can say that will get them to tune in
  • The email must clearly feel that it comes from a human (personalize more than just a name)
  • Pattern interrupt, stand out, pique their interest
  • Show you understand them, relate to them, are empathetic to them
  • Emails must be brief & scanable
  • Message must be differentiated & be relevant
  • Be authentic & genuine (no gimmicky messages)
  • Don’t reference sending prior emails – no guilt trip
  • Reinforce credibility with peer social proof
  • Be professionally persistent but not annoying
  • Strong and specific “ask” – a call to action to spark a reaction

The 4 Elements of an Effective Prospecting Email

These are the 4 from Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount but with additional notes/context:

1. Hook (Intro)
  • Attention grabber – Get their attention with a compelling subject line + opening sentence/statement
  • This first part must be a trigger to instantly grab the prospect’s attention
  • Intro is supposed to answer to them why you are reaching them specifically
  • Generate curiosity so as not to sound just like another sales rep
  • Differentiate yourself with unique messaging and personalization in the opening sentence
2. Rapport (Relate)
  • [also can be Reference – someone specific who referred you to the Prospect – this instantly builds rapport]
  • This should personalized
  • Demonstrate that you understand them and their problem
  • Show empathy and authenticity – speak directly to the prospect’s concerns/challenges, priorities
  • It is a reference point they must identify and one which connects you to them
  • It may be something you read or learned about them on their website
    • Here is an example from Kyle Porter at SalesLoft
      • This demonstrates that Kyle took the time to learn about the contact
      • Also note the “p.s.” which adds another personalization to the Rapport reference
  • It also may be a “similarity” you have in common to build a rapport
    • maybe a person who referred you to them or a friend you both have
    • maybe a school you both went to or something you have in common
3. Bridge (Reason)
  • This is the reason for your email – the relevant business reason
  • Make it a UVP / Unique Value Prop – Unique Value Proposition (the Value, Results & Benefits that help them)
  • Should show what value and benefit you provide for them (must be something that matters to them)
  • Connect the dots between their problem and how you can help them
  • Use the word “because” & explain the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me)
  • Should show why this is important for the Prospect
  • Proof –metrics or “social proof” of other customer success stories (could also be in Relate above)
  • Should be specific to the Prospect (you should get insight into your prospect before reaching them)
  • Should be interesting to hold their attention because it is a priority for them
  • Should “create value” for them
    • Note: ultimately every interaction must prove, add or create value
4. Action / Ask
  • What action you are asking and hoping for them to take with you
  • Call to action – what you are asking them to do and it must be an easy, simple, friction-less ask
  • Should be like any typical email CTA (Call to Action) – must be short & sweet
  • Be clear and straightforward about the action you want them to take
  • Should be specific
    • Ex: “Would you be willing to do a brief 10-minute call on Tuesday at 2:30pm?”
  • Should be a simple and easy to do what you ask, lite and easy for them to agree to
    • Asking for a “brief 5-10 minute introductory call” is easier for them than a coffee meeting or a 1 hour demo

P.S. Few more tips:

  • Subject line must grab attention
  • Your content should be: quality, short, and relevant (JBarrows)
  • Good to send after leaving a voicemail and a voicemail is advertisement (not intended for getting a call back)
  • Clarity – state clearly what you do and give a clear value prop
  • Authentic – you must be authentic
  • Personalize your email
  • Be concise / brief
  • Make your message specific to your prospect’s need for:
    • a) attaining Priorities
    • b) solving Problems/Challenges
  • Selectively incorporate bold formatting, bullet points, and whitespace to make the email easy to skim
    • Nobody has time to read but people can glance quickly and skim to get the point
  • The ask must be clear and easy for them to do – frictionless ask like “a brief 10-minute call”
  • Use the word “because”
  • Use a “P.S” at the end of an email – a powerful tactic if used correctly


What else? What are some other thoughts on how to craft effective prospecting emails?