The Fundamentals of Sales Emails

The Email Campaign as a Salesperson

Like many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies we don’t have a dedicated sales team. The setup is quite common amongst lean startup companies too and there are various techniques that can be used to ensure that, even without sales people, you are still able to close deals.

Any tool that allows you to email prospects and existing customers can be a very effective workhorse for staying in touch and moving people down the sales pipeline, as well as ticking a lot of boxes on the marketing side of the business too. Done well (and feel free to grab a refresher on good email techniques) it can pay for itself several times over. However, one of the problems that companies often have with implementation is that they fail to connect their outbound email system with client data.

It’s not difficult to run through a list of sales and marketing todos in order to get your campaign going. The web is awash with lists that can be implemented in no time at all. You’ll be posting on Twitter, attending networking events, blogging and general shouting all kinds of things to all kinds of people.

But pause for a moment: Is this the right approach? You may be failing to connect your data with your outgoing mailing campaigns.

Let the Data Lead You

In order to decide if email is the right tool for you to use, look at the customer profile. Do they engage via email, or are they more of a telephone person? By looking at their activity history you can see which communication has been favoured and only add them to a keep-in-touch email campaign if it’s a mode that they are going to engage with.

Additionally (and assuming that email is a good choice for them), try to make any email communication relevant to their situation. To do this you might profile your prospects in a number of ways: Previous buying habits, company size, repeat visitor, or whatever suits your requirements. You can then have a drip-feed campaign that is appropriate to their circumstances and subscribe them to it.

Managing Sales Engagement in RealtimeCRM

By looking at an Opportunity you can easily see from the Activity Timeline entries what method of communication is working. A lot of “Called client but no response” entries may indicate they are not telephone-orientate. Similarly, unanswered emails might mean that they prefer a direct call. In short, make sure you read the prospect correctly.

You can use Tags or Custom Fields to set up indicators as to what kind of prospect you are dealing with. You can then refer to those when setting the appropriate email communication groups (if any).

Managing Email communication

RealtimeCRM gives you the ability to integrate with your MailChimp account. We have two mailing lists that we’ll refer to as example steams:

  • RealtimeCRM stream
  • Content Marketing stream

The RealtimeCRM stream is all related to the product itself, RealtimeCRM. The source of the list comes exclusively from those who sign up to actually use the product. They get our onboarding sequence which guides them through how to use the product and hopefully converts them into paying users. Thereafter, they receive product updates and other product related information to further encourage engagement with RealtimeCRM. This is a great example of closing a sale from a user that has been attracted via a marketing campaign.

There are many sources for our Content Marketing stream but the primary source is our blog where we provide useful content that is relevant to subscribers such as our guide to GDPR and general tips for businesses. There’s less chance of us closing on this one in the short term but we continue to build trust and, importantly, we’re going to be in their inbox, giving us opportunities to sell RealtimeCRM to them whilst at the same time providing valuable content.

The purpose of both streams is to nudge people along the sales pipeline.

Segmentation of our email list

Within MailChimp we group our subscribers by how they ended up on our list and whether they take certain actions. A basic (but often overlooked) instance of this is bugging someone to purchase something when they’ve already done so! You want to be able to segment them out of that email flow and onto another one to upsell them to a higher tier product for example.

In our case, for the RealtimeCRM stream, we want to know how they signed up and whether they’re an administrator.

These segments allow us to later on contact them with emails that are relevant to them. It would be stupid to offer a discount to somebody who already has that discount applied to their account so segmentation is a must if you want an intelligent list.

It also allows us to send win back emails to those who haven’t logged into RealtimeCRM for a while. We offer them more help to try and help onboard them onto the system. Every little bit you can do to improve your conversion rates matters because it’ll compound over time as you drive more traffic through a better optimised email system. You don’t want to let money slip through your fingers.

Capturing email

It all starts with capturing the visitors email address. Making it easy to do this is important. In one experiment an 11-field version of a contact form was cut down to a 4-field version. This resulted in a 160% increase in the number of forms submitted and a 120% increase in conversion while the quality of submissions stayed the same.

For us, our sign up form followed the same principle: Cutting down a multi-field form to a single field then we used the power of Clearbit to get more information including their company name. We then apply this automatically to the newly created account without the subscriber having to do it themselves in the sign up form. We too saw a huge boost in our sign up rate from this.

On our blog we use sticky sign up forms and if you’re on a specific piece of content, say you’re on a post about GDPR the sign up form will be more relevant to the visitor.

To get that email we offer a full free guide on how GDPR affects small businesses and the sign up form will make this offer to them, and when they sign up via that post they’ll get put into the GDPR group in MailChimp, then we’ll send them the full guide in our GDPR specific flow which finishes into our Content Marketing stream.

This is all automated, we don’t do anything. It works night and day helping us sell without us having to lift a finger beyond the initial effort to set it up.

Get the Email Layout right

We took a lot of time to work out the best format for our emails. They look almost plaintext as they’ve been stripped down to the bare bones. Not only do we not want to look like but it also makes the email look more personal. This is backed up by data:

It’s pretty obvious the more images you have in your email the lower your click rate will be. In fact, HTML emails have 25% lower open rates than their plain text alternatives.

How we write our emails

In the example below, this is the what you’d receive in your final email if you had signed up to our “How to start a business course”:


The very first thing we do is highlight the value we’re providing. We then explain what RealtimeCRM is and why it can be valuable to the subscriber and then we make the call to action – in this case for the subscriber to try RealtimeCRM.

Over the course the subscriber will have developed an understanding of how RealtimeCRM can work for them. This makes it easier to make the final call to action because by this point we will have won the trust of the subscriber and provided real value to them.

Email is critical

Our business model is simple, we have people who sign up to RealtimeCRM and they pay monthly to keep using it. Some percentage cancel every month but if we can get more people signing up than cancelling our revenue will grow. We want that consistent growth.

Email allows us to achieve that because it’s a well accepted, responsive, controllable source. We don’t have to constantly attract people again and again. The fact that we have their email means the hardest part is done and we can get RealtimeCRM in front of their eyes via their inbox.

It’s also inherently scalable and flexible. Not everyone who comes onto our site is ready to buy a subscription to RealtimeCRM but we can still get their email and be in their inbox when they are ready to convert. For current users we can let them know about new developments quickly and cost effectively.

That’s the power of email, that’s why you need to focus on building an email system if you want your business to grow.