MyStartupLand - Email Response Rate

Cold calling has been replaced by cold emails in many industries. We have less time available today and we are not willing to get on a call with a stranger.

Send me an email, if relevant I’ll get back to you“.

If you work in sales, you have heard these words at least once.

Getting your value proposition across in few words can be complicated. It might take time and effort to master this. We need to tell our prospect about our unique and fantastic product, and convince him to get on a call with us.

I have been in sales few years now and I have sent and received thousands of email. The goal is always the same, get on the phone and make the sale.

It’s difficult to come up with THE best way of writing an email. You need to continuosly customise it as well as thinking about who is on the receiving end. You need to spend time on it. Reality is, we don’t have time. We need to reach out to tons of leads. We need to close some deals.

Having a one-suite-all approach is not ideal. However, we can take in consideration few things to improve our email response rate.

First of all let’s put things into context. People spend on average 15-20 seconds reading one email. Another study showed that the “perfect” message has between 50 and 125 words. We don’t have much time to make an impact. We need to be effective and precise. We need a method.

Here below 8 ways to improve our email response rate:

1. Avoid complicated wording.

Stop using long sentences. Write short and clear phrases. Don’t use complicated words. Your prospect has no time. If he doesn’t understand, he will not waste his time trying to. You lost him!

Try to replace long expressions with shorter versions:

  • First and foremost” replace with “First
  • At this point in time” replace with “Now” or “Currently
  • For the purpose of” or “In order to” replace with “To
  • In the near future” replace with “Soon
  • Make an effort” replace with “Try
  • With the exception of” replace with “Except
  • In spite of the fact that” replace with “Although
  • In the event of” replace with “If

When thinking about complicated words, also try to avoid being redundant.

2. Introducing Yourself Or Your Company.

Never start the beginning of your email with your name and title. Who needs that? It’s a waste of space first of all, and let your prospect’s alarm goes off, because you sound like a sales person!

The same goes for a generic introduction of your company. Don’t waste precious words with useless presentation. When talking about your company focus on what is valuable for the prospect. There’s no need to tell your company is “the leading player in XYZ industry“. Who needs that? Everyone’s a leader nowadays anyway.

You can use your signature to give all those extra information. A link to your company website; to your LinkedIn profile; or to a TechCrunch mention should be more than enough.

3. Optimizing The Subject Line

Make sure your email title is clear and down to the point. No need of extra words. Tell your prospect what you want. Make him want to open your email.

Once you nailed the title, there’s no need to repeat it in the email body. The prospect has already clear why you are in touch with him. Now it’s time to focus on the real value your company can provide.

You might want to use some old sales trick, such as adding to your title “RE::” or “FWD::”. However, I am not a big fun of these as the prospect might feel tricked. We want to get him to trust us.

4. Use Some Type Of Reference.

Have you and your prospect attended the same event? Use it.

Did he share or write an interesting blog post? Use it.

It doesn’t really matter what type of connection you make as far as you don’t sound like a sales rep. Be aware not to sound too creepy, such as “I have seen on your Facebook profile…” that’s too way too much…

You need to create a relationship with your prospect and you have only few seconds.

5. Giving Too Many Options.

Your company might provide several services or have different products. Although your prospects might benefit from more than a specific one, you need to get your point across in the most efficient way. Try to stick to two points at most per email. Too many ideas will create confusion in your prospect’s mind.

If you shoot all your bullets at once, your follow up email will sound empty. Keep in mind that he might not get back to you straight away. Having some extra points to add later will make your emails sound less repetitive.

6. WIFM – What’s In It For Me.

Be clear and coincise. You don’t need to repeat sentences like “I am contacting you for…” or “I wanted to check with you about…”. Your prospect is aware of that. Get to the point as quickly as you can. Don’t waste his or her time. Let the prospect know why he should work with you.

Your prospect doesn’t really care about your company or who you are. He wants to know what’s in it for him if he gets on a call with you!

7. Including Generic Statements.

If you want to get your prospect’s attention within few seconds, you can’t waste precious time with useless sentences. You might think that jumping straight in to the topic might be rude, but you are acknowledging the fact that your prospect is busy.

Avoid phrases like:

  • Hope you are doing well
  • Happy [insert day of the week]
  • How was your w.e.?

Keep in mind though that this is true in Western cultures, while in some Eastern cultures, such as Japan, some etiquette in regards of the weather might be necessary.

8. Telling Your Prospect What’s Next.

Don’t end your email with a generic statement that leads you nowhere.

“I hope to hear back from you” or “Looking forward to your reply”.

No! Ask them for a call or include a call to action. Tell them a date and a time when they will have 5 minutes for a quick chat. You only need that to explain in more details how they can benefit from your solution.

Cold emails are not a replacement for sales. You should not aim at closing a prospect over email. You cannot cover all important topics and questions over emails.

Emails are a great way to start a conversation and initiate a relationship with your prospect. If you want to get more answers, write less and be more efficient.

Do you know any other way to improve your sales email response rate? Share it here below!

Luca is an experienced sales executive and business coach with a background of over 10 years in sales and management. When not working, Luca runs one of the leading online magazines for startup knowledge, MyStartupLand, with the aim of providing meaningful and helpful content to startup founders and business people.


  1. Very well described, especially the challenges that every salesperson has to go through. Great post and with a lot of good ideas! Thanks for sharing!

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