Guide to sales emails, based on examples that worked

Improve your own sales emails with these best practices and examples.

By Josh Bean, Director, Marketing

Published July 11, 2019
Last updated September 16, 2020

In a world where there are more emails crammed into an inbox than there are Marvel fanatics stuffed into an Avengers premiere, grabbing your prospects’ attention through sales emails has never been more difficult.

According to Mailchimp, the average open rate across all industries is only 20.81%. That means almost 80% of most brands’ subscribers don’t even spare a passing glance at a newsletter they willingly signed up for — let alone a cold sales email.

All hope is not lost, though. Just like cold calls, sales emails still work. You just need to put in the time and effort required to research your prospects, understand their needs, and offer the right kind of help.

Check out our guide on sales emails to learn how to craft compelling sales emails and follow-up emails. Also, take a look at the best time to send sales emails, the most revealing and insightful sales email metrics that can help refine your sales email campaigns, and some sales email examples that you can draw inspiration from.

How to write a sales email

From your sales email’s subject line all the way down to its CTA, each of its elements needs to be able to grab your prospects’ attention, engage them, and compel them to take your desired action. Otherwise, you might as well not have written the email in the first place. To learn how to craft a sales email that will get opened, read, and clicked, check out the following resources:

Sales email examples

If you need help getting the creative juices flowing for your next sales email campaign, check out the following sales email examples that produced some impressive results for five different brands. Also, take a look at 22 different templates that you can use during each stage of the sales pipeline:

How to follow up

Writing follow-up emails requires the same amount of focus and effort as writing sales emails. Even if your prospect seems excited to talk next steps with you, following up with a one-size-fits-all email will severe the genuine connection you just forged. To learn how to write a follow-up email that your prospects will respond to, check out the following resources:

When to send sales emails

The best ways to determine the optimal time to send your sales emails are analyzing historical data or testing different send times. But if you don’t have the time or resources to do either, Mailchimp examined their Send Time Optimization Product’s data in 2018 to figure out the best time and day to send an email, on average.

According to their data, the best time to send an email is 10 a.m.

Optimal email send times

However, they didn’t find an optimal day to send emails. Almost every weekday receives the same level of engagement.

Optimal day of week to send emails

To learn more about Mailchimp’s findings, check out their blog post, Insights from Mailchimp's Send Time Optimization System.

Sales email metrics

Measuring your sales emails’ performance is crucial for determining their effectiveness and refining your future sales emails. But measuring their performance against one or two metrics doesn’t paint the full picture. Here are seven metrics that can:

  • Open Rate: A high open rate reveals that your subject line was compelling and your brand is recognizable. If your email’s open rate is sky high but its reply or click rate is low, then you need to overhaul your email copy.
    • Formula: [Unique opens/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Click-to-open rate (CTOR): Click-to-open rate is the percentage of unique recipients who click through to your website after they open your email. It’s a better indicator of engagement and resonance than click-through rate because it only accounts for the people who actually opened and read your email.
    • Formula: [Unique clicks/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Reply Rate: Reply rate is one of the most revealing metrics for determining whether your email’s copy resonates with your prospects or not. Prospects don’t open most of their emails, so if you can persuade them to respond to you, your email most likely piques their interest.
    • Formula: [Unique Replies/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Objections: If your email has a high reply rate, but a lot of the responses state that prospects don’t have the budget for your product or service or they’re not interested, then you’ve most likely caught their attention but haven’t resonated with them. Although this situation isn’t ideal, you can still turn some objections into conversions by forging a genuine relationship with prospects, helping them meet their needs without asking for anything in return, and being persistent.
    • Formula: [Unique Objections/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Positive Reply Rate: A prospect who seems eager to connect with you or wants to move on to next steps right away is the best determinant of resonance. If one of your emails receives a high positive reply rate, then try to emulate its key elements in all of your other sales emails.
    • Formula: [Unique Positive Replies/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Qualifications: Receiving a ton of replies from prospects can feel great, but if they’re not qualified for your product or service, then what’s the point of continuing the conversation? Make sure you’re measuring lead quality to determine whether you’re reaching out to the right caliber of prospects.
    • Formula: [Unique Qualified Prospects Who Replied to Your Email/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]
  • Unsubscribes: Unsubscribes reveal that your sales email isn’t relevant or that you’ve sent too many emails to certain prospects. If one of your emails receives a high unsubscribe rate, then tear it out of your playbook.
    • Formula: [Unique Unsubscribes/(Total Sends - Number of Bounces)]

To learn more about sales email metrics, check out the following resources:

Sales emails: difficult but doable

Sending sales emails can seem like a crapshoot. Sometimes, your emails will produce huge results. Other times, all they’ll do is collect dust in your prospects’ inboxes. However, if you can follow the principles and frameworks featured in this guide and use data to constantly tinker on your sales emails’ copy, you’ll see more consistent results.

This post originally ran on the Base blog. Please visit if you’d like to learn more about Zendesk Sell.