Once upon a time, there was an email marketer who believed she’d cracked the code on how to write sales email copy that dazzled. Did she need an example sales email to work from? Of course not! She was a marketing maverick, after all. She wrote every perfect, artisanally-crafted sales email from scratch.

Then a sales rep told her he found the holy grail. He had acquired the best sales email templates in the world. And why were they the best? Because they had a high average response rate. At the end of the day, what matters to the sales reps is that they craft sales emails that get responses.

How to write a sales email

When it comes down to it, what constitutes a ‘perfect’ sales email might differ if it’s coming from the marketing department or if it’s coming from sales. Each team might have slightly different priorities and key success indicators when it comes to how to write sales email copy and track its performance.

Email metrics that marketers track:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Unsubscribes
  • Which color of button converts better
  • A/B testing

And the list goes on.

Sales reps, on the other hand, care about:

  • Replies

So when it comes to sales emails, their metric for success or failure is pretty simple. Good sales emails are sales emails that get responses.

But even though getting replies is the end goal, an example sales email that simply pushes for the sale or response at all costs is not going to be effective.

That’s why sales and marketing need to supercharge their efforts by joining forces.

Types of sales emails that get responses

White flag Email

The “white flag” email comes when you’re getting ready to throw in the towel and want to make an impact. This email will be sent when a prospect goes dark or after you’ve called and emailed a few times with no luck:

  • A short email signaling to your prospects that you’re going to stop contacting them since you haven’t heard back
  • Asking if they’d prefer to be left alone, or if not, what do they want instead?
  • Being upfront and honest about what you want or need from them
  • Using tone is respectful, direct, and brief, like you’re leveling with the person

The best sales emails make it clear that you respect your recipient’s time. If you’re willing to be honest and upfront, they will likely do the same to you. And remember, when prospects think it’s their last chance to speak with you, they’ll likely take action.

Personality email

Some of the best sales emails are the fun ones that sound like they were written by a likable, professional human. Oddly, this is easier said than done.

Capturing the right amount of personality in an email will help it stand out from the dozens of robotic, cookie-cutter inbox fillers your prospects get on the daily. Send this email anytime but use your best judgment and if you receive a response from a prospect with a very formal tone, you might dial down on the personality to match.

Honestly, automation makes all our lives easier. But as much as people think they want to be sold to by robots (self-checkout machines), they don’t. They want to know there is a real person sitting on the other end of that sales email you sent. Even more than that, they want to feel like they can trust that person. That’s how you’ll win your ideal prospects.

Adding personality and some lighthearted humor to your emails is a great way to open relationships with prospects and take those relationships a little deeper. It can very well increase your reply rate. However, it’s important to note that it might be dependent on the recipient; some prospects may prefer less voice-y emails. Also, just a reminder to steer clear of any curse words, questionable jokes, and inappropriate slang.

The deal

Never underestimate the art of the deal! The best sales email might just be the one that creates a sense of urgency by leveraging your prospect’s fear of missing out (FOMO, as the cool kids say). Use this kind of email whenever there is a sales incentive going on.

Sometimes prospects just need a sense of urgency to get them moving on a deal—savings are a great way to put a fire under them. An email often works better than a phone call to get their attention because the details are up front.

Here some tips:

  • Get to the details of the deal quickly; put them front and center
  • Clearly communicate the consequences of not taking the deal (missing the window to sign up before prices increase, for example)
  • Provide a clear timeline to take action
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Make sure the next step is simple

A short, sweet intro

When in doubt, keep things brief. The shorter, the better. When reaching out to a prospect for the first time, the best sales email is one that spans only a few sentences. The best time to send this kind of email is at the beginning of the sales email cycle.

The person you are reaching out to doesn’t know who you are and is most likely very busy. This intro email serves two purposes:

  • Introduces the rep to the prospect and gives them an easy way to reach out on their terms
  • Reminds them of who the company is and what they were interested in

The undesigned email

You can send such email at any time (arguably all the time!). Sales emails that get responses are ones that look like they are coming directly from you. You might be surprised to learn that means throwing design out the window. Now we aren’t saying that you should get rid of sales email templates, but instead, make your templates look like a plain-text email.

Sometimes, ‘plain Jane’ is best. In fact, your design attempts might be getting your sales emails stuck in spam filters (Nutshell). If you mess up some HTML code or add too many images, your sales emails might never reach your prospects to begin with.

Think of it from the perspective of the recipient. Does it look like an email that might be coming from a friend, colleague, or trusted professional… or does it seem like a marketing campaign?

Keeping branding minimal and have a clear CTA. Why complicate the rest?

Funny guy

Works best when you’ve already developed a relationship with the prospect. Do the best sales emails have a sense of humor? It depends on the context. Send a humorous email when you haven’t been able to get in touch with a prospect for a while. It’s a great lighthearted way to say, “hey, I’m still here!”. Sometimes, the sales emails that get responses are the ones that are more memorable.

Chances are the reason someone isn’t replying to your best sales email ever is because:

  • They aren’t interested and want you to go away…
  • They are super busy and haven’t had a chance to dig into your solution further.
  • They just forgot!

A lighthearted and humorous approach is a great way to get someone to stop, smile, and think about who you are and why you’re messaging them about ninjas. I bet no matter which of the above camps your prospect is in, your reply rate will beat out a serious salesy email.


Emails should always be written about the prospect and not about yourself. It’s really simple to change a sentence from being about you to being about them, and the results are completely worth it. It can come down to something as simple as wording.

Change “I’d like to set up a time to talk more about …” to “Would you be available to chat more about your goals for 2023? I’d love to learn more about your goals to help you reach them!” That’s how the best sales emails refocus on adding value to the prospect.

Personalized material just works, period.

If you can tell a prospect something about their business they don’t know, or demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by zeroing in on a unique pain point, you bet they’ll take the two minutes to read your email.

A final note on the best sales email tactics

In conclusion, marketers can think more like sales reps by understanding that the definition of successful sales emails are sales emails that get responses. The goal is to get prospects to take action and respond. The emails themselves don’t need to be poetic, have special buttons, use colors, or include HTML design flourishes. The best sales emails are often more simple than you think.

The best sales email that performs well often sounds human, is funny, or conveys information impactfully in a short amount of time. It may seem easy, but it’s not.

To summarize, sales emails that get responses often employ the following tips:

  • Respect their time
  • Have some personality
  • Let them know about special deals
  • Keep your intros short and sweet
  • Don’t bother with design
  • Use humor to your advantage
  • Get as custom-tailored as possible
  • Be data-driven