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Email best practices for sales teams
6 min read

Email best practices for sales teams

Email best practices for sales teams

While email marketing is probably the most efficient tactic employed by marketers and entrepreneurs when interacting with customers and prospects, email can also be used by sales teams to discover new opportunities and convert them. If you are in a position where you have to constantly check up on contacts, you probably already know that unlocking the power of email helps sales persons achieve their day-to-day tasks and remain up-to-date on developments with their prospects.

We are starting a new series of articles, Email for Sales, where we are exploring how email can be useful for sales efforts. We will be dissecting the benefits of using email for routine tasks as well as detail some advanced use cases.

The ultimate guide to sales emails

There is a big difference between email marketing and email in general. First, while email marketing allows you to reach a large number of subscribers at once, with email you are communicating on a one-to-one basis. To better understand this difference, it will be useful to understand the tools used for each of them. Email marketing depends on an email service provider (ERP) or an email marketing solution. You collect subscribers in email lists and then use them to deploy campaigns, also known as newsletters. Email, as a tactic, can be harnessed with just an email account and/or client. Think of Outlook, Thunderbird, but you could also add Gmail there, for good measure, considering that Gmail is currently the most used email client. Of course, things don’t necessarily have to be this basic. Sales teams are using customer relationship management (CRM) tools, such as SalesForce, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics or Zoho CRM. Some platforms combine both functionalities, like SharpSpring or HubSpot, but most offer distinct features for marketing and sales.

Sales email use cases

Checking email on tablet

Sales teams tend to reach out to prospects via email, but there are different ways of doing that. Going forward we will examine the most common use cases for email from the point of view of a sales representative.

Cold emails

Cold email might well be the most well-known sales tactic. For those not familiar with the term, cold email refers to a form of outreach where a salesperson contacts someone without any prior agreement or previous discussion. Cold email is unsolicited email. Only the first email sent out can qualify as a cold email, because any subsequent communication would not actually be unsolicited or cold. With the help of cold email, teams are validating assumptions regarding certain companies and needs. There is a lot of discussion on the subject of cold email efficiency, but that’s something that we are going to address in an upcoming article.

Before moving on, we want to make one thing clear. Sure, cold email is a widespread tactic, but there are a lot of regulations governing it. You should never purchase email lists to contact prospects. Furthermore, even if you are going by the book and collect email addresses from the websites of the companies you are targeting, it is always advised to validate email lists before using them. DataValidation offers an email verification service that can help you with maintaining a clean and fresh email list. Our report also includes a field for role-based emails, which are the one you would want to use for cold emails. Try our application for free, consult your free quality report before deciding to purchase.

Pitch emails

Let’s say that you have met someone at an event and they were really interested in the product or sales that you were promoting there. Pitch emails are what you would use to further sell your idea. Pitches have a clear hook, put emphasis on benefits and are short and to-the-point. These three attributes also apply to pitch emails. They usually need to be up to 200 words long, contain a brief description of the product or service, and are used as a first step in starting a conversation. After the initial email sparks some interest, additional emails can further explain the pitch.

Businessman Reading Emails on Smartphone Outdoor

Pitch emails are great because they can work as a feedback mechanism. If your hook is strong, you will be able to validate it based on engagement. Pitch emails also have a higher open rate and reply rate when compared to cold emails, exactly because they are sent out to recipients who expect to receive them.

Prospecting sales emails

As with the marketing funnel, a contact will travel various steps in the sales funnel before a conversion can actually happen. The usual sales-cycle stages are explained in this article from PipeDrive, but what you need to keep in mind is that there is a distinction between a lead and a prospect. A prospect is a qualified lead, an entity that will be further engaged to close the sale. That’s where prospecting sales emails come into play. Once you know that a lead has shown interest in your product, either by confirming it with them directly, by reading their social media feed or blog articles, you can start working on a prospecting sales email. Their goal is to introduce yourself, your business and start developing a relationship. Use value propositions and strong call-to-actions to try to convince them to have a discussion with you.

Referral emails

Most sales people find themselves in this particular situation: you want to reach out to a certain company, but are not sure who’s the best person to talk to. If you already have a contact there or if you were able to find a role-based email on their website or social media accounts, do not hesitate to use referral emails to identify the closest fit. Referral emails are requests you send to someone in the company to ask them to redirect you to the best suited person inside the company for your solicitation. Try to be relevant, succinct and explain yourself clearly.

Follow-up emails or reminders

This scenario is pretty simple. You have already contacted someone but they have yet to get back to you. There are two options here. You can either send out a follow-up email, where you present a new viewpoint and hope that works better than the previous one or you can send out a reminder. With a follow-up email your objective is to determine the recipient to advance in the sales funnel, while a reminder email tries to convince the prospect to act on a certain task. Are they late with a payment? Then you will send a friendly and professional reminder email. Did you notice that the prospect has not responded to your previous communication and you need their answer to advance your sales process? Then you will use a follow up email to re-engage with them.

Appointment requests

Doctor talking to a pharmaceutical sales representative

The final type of email for sales teams that we will analyze is the appointment request. Things are pretty straightforward. You and the prospect or the client have already settled on having a discussion, be it a call, face-to-face meeting or Zoom conference. The next step would be to propose at least two or three alternatives for when the meeting could take place and allow them to pick the one that best suits them. Appointment requests should not be used as cold emails because it is highly unlikely that a recipient will react positively to an out-of-the-blue request. The meeting’s goal would be to further qualify them, that’s why it is important to only use requests for prospects or clients that have advanced in your sales funnel. This type of email can also work wonders for upselling efforts, so don’t exclude existing clients from your list when planning on appointment requests.


Sales teams in all industries and markets are using emails to reach, convert and sync with leads, prospects and customers. Understanding what role email plays in the sales process is a vital step in stepping up your game. Here is what we have learned throughout this article:

  • You don’t necessarily need an advanced CRM platform to perform email-related sales tasks, you can definitely do it with just a simple email client

  • There are various emails you can send to contacts to engage with them

  • The most common email send out by sales teams is the cold email

  • You need to adhere to regulations and best practices when developing your email strategy