The golden rules of writing a prospecting email

Ryan Welmans

Posted on: August 14, 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Category: Prospecting

The golden rules of writing a prospecting email

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Followers of this blog will know when it comes to writing a prospecting email, there’s more than one way to bake a cake. And you can’t bake a cake without cracking some eggs. And you can’t… oh nevermind.

Email prospecting is an artform governed by a science. Creativity is central to the success of your campaign, but there’s a blueprint you can follow to give yourself an edge. Let me explain…

At Sopro we’ve sent over five million prospecting emails. We’ve contacted people at every level in every industry and if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s the subtle art of email template writing.

It all boils down to knowing what you want to achieve, and having a roadmap to reach your goal.

So here’s our ‘golden rules of writing a prospecting email’ – or watch our CEO Ryan Welmans explain each step in more detail below.

1. The ‘Man on the train’ email

Probably the most important step of all. People can spot copy which hasn’t been written 1-to-1 a mile off so this exercise will help you overcome this barrier. Try to imagine yourself sitting on a train. You’ve just spotted somebody on LinkedIn which you think is a perfect prospect. You’ve got ten minutes before your train pulls into the station and your laptop’s on 5% battery, so you’ll need to punch out a paragraph or two and hit send as quickly as possible. Read your prospecting emails with this lens. If it doesn’t read like you’ve dropped a quick note, chances are it won’t work.

Sell more. Book a demo today.

2. Never say ‘hello’

What’s wrong with ‘hello’? Well, using ‘hello’ in an email feels unnatural. It flags the email immediately as a mass-send and the number of people who read past the first line drops off a cliff.

3. Nail the subject line

We’ve spoken extensively about email subject lines in the past. People use all sorts of tactics to get you to open an email.

They flag discounts, they ask questions, they add some urgency… and none of these are particularly successful when it comes to prospecting.

You need to write something that is personal and implies the message has come from a human. Afterall, the subject line is there to convert a delivery into an open and a bit of intrigue goes a long way…

4. Never open with a question

You’re giving your reader something to do, and let’s be honest, they’ve probably got enough on their plate. Opening with a question has ‘mass marketing email’ written all over it and will reduce your response rate, every time.

5. Prospecting email template

At Sopro we write our prospecting emails with six distinct sections in mind. Every part serves a function and needs to be checked off before you hit send. They are as follows:

1. Greeting [Morning] Tony,
2. Softener Hope you’re [enjoying the weather OR avoiding the rain] this week.
3. Intro and rationale behind the cold contact Just a quick intro from me. I head up UK partnerships at SoPro and I was hoping I might catch you on the phone [later this OR early next] week.
4. Logic for the next step It looks like we might be able to help [company] open a few doors on the biz-dev side over the next few months so I wondered if you might have a few mins to run through my logic.
5. Call to action Any chance I could grab you for a brief chat on [Friday]… literally 15 mins. How’s your diary?
6. Proper email signature Insert Sig with non-salesy job title

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s worth watching the video below for an in-depth breakdown on how each step works.

6. The value exchange

You need to think about what the prospect is going to get out of the interaction with you when you sit down to write your prospecting email.

It’s a balancing act; you’re offering your prospect potential new clients in exchange for a fifteen-minute chat… it’s a potential fix for one of their major challenges traded off against quarter-of-an-hour of their time. If you think about your value proposition this way, you’ll win. If you try and sell your product and services from the get-go you won’t get the responses.

7. Review techniques

Dig out the Stanislavski – we’re going full method acting with this one

Try and put yourselves in the shoes of the person receiving your email. Imagine the day to day life of your prospect. Imagine you’ve got a meeting in eight minutes. Imagine you’ve got 22 other unread emails to get through. Now imagine your prospecting email is in amongst them. Will you read it or delete it?

Give it a go, you may well find you make some amends to your email.

8. The importance of language

Writing a prospecting email is unlike other forms of copywriting. You need to make sure your emails are short, around 100-160 words. You need to make the language concise. You need to get to the point.

The more people you have reading your email when you land your call-to-action the better. If they’ve switched off after ‘hello’ it’s game over.

Try sprinkling some personalisation into your email. Personal references dramatically increase read and response rates. That said, bad personalisation will see your email deleted quicker than you can say ‘unsubscribe me’.

If you’re emailing “Made Up Company Ltd”, get rid of the “Ltd”. Make it real and make it read like it was written by a human.

9. The 10 year old test

DISCLAIMER: Do not actually involve a 10 year old in prospecting campaign template quality assurance.

If you were to take your email and read it to a 10 year old, would they understand it? Are there any words which could be simpler? Long words and overtly sesquipedalian linguistic tendencies genuinely won’t be assimilated in a manner conducive to a highly performant prospecting campaigns.

Try to keep the format of the text in a way that is easy to digest.

For more detail on each of the points listed above, check out our Golden rules of writing a prospecting email video above.


Sopro is a fully managed B2B prospecting service. Our advanced email tech, best in class prospecting data, and expert written email templates have led to our service winning many awards, and our clients rating us 4.9 on Software Advice.

Click the link below to find out more about our service, or get in touch today to find out how we can drive quality leads into your pipeline.

Do you need a prospecting tool or service?

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