Strictly Sales Episode 5: The Most Important Part of Your Email Sales Pitch

When it comes to making a strong impression, nothing has more impact than how you enter and exit a room. As sales educator Jeff Hoffman explains, the same holds true for your emails.

Want to make a strong impression with your prospects? Of course you do. Well, these days that means getting one thing absolutely right — a killer email subject line and a killer close.
In this episode of Strictly Sales with Jeff Hoffman, Jeff provides a set of email sales pitch guidelines that will help you avoid some costly mistakes and send emails that get responded to now.

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Key Takeaways

  • 3 things to avoid in your subject line: FW: or RE:; questions; summarizing the entire email
  • Emails have to have a clean close: Don’t include attachments or legal notes at the end of the email [5:00]
  • Keep your signature simple: Only include name, company, and one phone number. No title or social media accounts [6:35]

“Grace — which is unfortunately a word we don’t use a lot anymore or think about anymore — is often determined by the way one enters or exits a room. That entry and that exit matters.”

— Jeff Hoffman, M. J. Hoffman and Associates


Announcer: This is Strictly Sales with Jeff Hoffman and CeCe Bazar. For more information go to OpenView Labs or
CeCe: Hi again, everyone and thanks for joining us for Strictly Sales with Jeff Hoffman. We’re here to talk all about emails. Well, not all about them really. Let’s talk about the start and the stop of an email. Let’s talk about this.
 Jeff: The book ends.
CeCe: The book ends — the subject line and the signature — because I think those are two places where reps get really confused. What do I do? Where do I go? What is the right way to start and stop those emails?
Jeff: Yeah, and you know what’s important? We could argue that the middle of that sandwich is the most important part, but I’d say it’s probably not. The definition of grace — which is unfortunately a word we don’t use a lot anymore or think about anymore — in my mind has always been you’re judged. Your grace is often determined by the way one enters or exits a room. I think it’s a really good way of kind of capsizing that. That entry and that exit matters, so yeah, that subject line has some value and the way you kind of close has some value not that the middle doesn’t, but no one’s going to pick up that sandwich if it’s soggy bread. I think it’s an interesting question that comes up, so why don’t we talk about both?
Let’s start with the subject. I think we spend a little too much time worrying about it because 80 to 90 percent of the people that you send emails to are reading them on their smartphone, which is going to have a grand total of 15 characters to read. But let’s start with some things that you don’t want to do in a subject line.
CeCe: Yeah.
Jeff: Let’s not do the FW colon, RE colon, space, space colon, little things that look to make the reader think that this is some long string I’m involved with. That’s just so dishonest.
CeCe: That is why salespeople get a bad rep, right?
Jeff: Of course! And they deserve it if they’re going to do crap like that. You’re not getting points for that. These aren’t tricks. It’s about technique, so let’s not do that. I don’t want to say things like, “are you free at 3 o’clock?” I don’t need to ask questions in my subject line unless I know the person. I think that’s kind of weird too.
CeCe: Definitely.
Jeff: But then I also think about what’s the subject line’s purpose and I’d argue that it’s not to summarize the email. If you were to write as a subject line, introduction from CeCe; well, I don’t know who CeCe is, but I already know what this email’s about. It’s apparently an introduction to you. I can now decide if I want to open it or not based purely on your subject and that’s unfair to you. We should have a subject line that should inspire an email to be opened not summarize what the contents are.
How does that work? Well, whatever the most interesting thing you have to say in that email is, is probably what I’m going to reference in the subject line. If the most exciting thing is the fact that they’re speaking at an event where our CEO’s going to be on a panel with them then I’ll say, “Your upcoming speaking engagement with XXX.” I’m going to highlight the subject that I think you care the most about.
CeCe: Let’s kind of circle back to that subject line for a second. What did it start with again? I think it started with a “your”.
Jeff: Yes, thank you. I’m a big believer and by the way, this is a great way to help you with spam filters. The use of you and your is a very powerful way to do those subject lines. I think it gets you focused on the listener, focused on the customer, and it does kind of side step some cheap spam filters that’ll usually stay away from things that say you or your.
CeCe: One of the VDR’s in the portfolio company, he does something really interesting that has been working really well for him. He subscribes to the Jeff Hoffman Why You Why You Now Methodology. Go figure, and he’s getting some really good negative information about people, connecting it back to his business, and pressing send. We’ll get more there. You’ll have I’m sure will have another podcast on Why You Why You Now at some point, but what he’s doing is he’s taking that really interesting fact, putting it in the subject line and adding a question mark. Now, it’s not something where he’s actually asking them a question. It’s not a close, but it’s almost kind of inspiring them to open the email.
Jeff: That makes sense. I think that would work. The question mark is not a question, but sounds like the question mark is really like, hey, did I get this right? I think that’s cool. I think that’s a good way of doing it, so I like it. Let’s talk about the ends. Something like exiting these things with your . . .
CeCe: Yeah. Let’s talk about it, because spam. You brought it up earlier. Spam is so important here and this is where people get stopped.
Jeff: CeCe, we’ve known each other for a while. A lot of folks who listen to the podcast have seen me speak or have our clients in mind and I’m contrarian. If I am though, it’s not to be weird. It’s just that I just think a lot of stuff we’re taught is wrong. I’m really contrarian on things like signature lines and the ends of things. I’ve always believed that the first interaction with a customer should be like wrapping paper. You should be pretty and easy to open because I think that’s what wrapping paper is. That’s what I want you to think. Hey, that’s good looking and I’ll open it. I don’t need anything complicated or to be hard to open and so known to be ugly. You know what ugly is? Five attachments, a huge legal disclaimer and a two-paragraph long signature line; those are ugly, ugly things in emails.
CeCe: That gives me the shivers. When I go into a company and I see that people are sending those, I get goose bumps all over. It’s not good.
Jeff: It’s not good. What happens, I’ll give you an example with a client where the rep said, “Well, we have to have this legal disclaimer on every outbound correspondence that’s from our legal counsel.” I said, “Well, okay. First of all, I’m not going to get between you and your legal counsel. So if you’re company’s telling you not to do it, you don’t do it.” But I will tell you that I wouldn’t do it and I’m always the first in line to take responsibility for my actions. It’s not a question I’m going to hide. But no, I would not put a legal disclaimer in my introductory email to people that I want to have them read. You’ve got to figure out a way to get around that.
The way I would get around it is I’d send my emails directly from my iPhone because I’m pretty sure that whatever you set up in your outbound templates is not hitting the iPhone. I don’t want that ugly, nasty thing at the bottom of these emails. I’m not seeing anything of legal consequence in this correspondence. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it, but I’d argue if you do have a big legal disclaimer, you’re probably cutting your responses by a third.
CeCe: Totally, and what about the information that’s in your signature? I’ve seen home, business, cell. You have four numbers, two email addresses, you’ve got your Twitter.
Jeff: Fax number. What year is this? 2014. We still have fax machines?
CeCe: News flash, we still have fax machines.
Jeff: Yeah. Fascinating, a fax number always makes me laugh when I see it. It always makes me laugh when you have to tell me this is my home, this is my office, this is my cell. I don’t give a crap which phone number goes to which phone. It just seems so needy to me, like, “let me tell you all about me.” Keep it simple. I don’t need your email address because if I hit reply, I get it. I don’t want your V-card and I certainly don’t want to hook up with you on LinkedIn or Facebook and follow you on Twitter because I don’t know who the hell you are. So let’s just back it down a little bit. Let’s breathe and keep it simple. Name, company, one phone number, good night, I think it’s plenty.
CeCe: And no title. No one cares.
Jeff: No one cares. No one cares what my title is. I am irrelevant. Is there anything more irrelevant than a salesperson who you haven’t even met yet? Why put this spotlight? If you just took a ruler out and looked at your email. If you were to measure from vertical measure and you find that your signature line is the same height as the body of your email . . .
CeCe: You’re in trouble.
Jeff: You’re in trouble. Yeah, I think that’s right. If you really want to have a really tasty sandwich, I’d argue, have a real thoughtful short top piece of bread which is your subject line and really thoughtful, concise, short, easy to open and pretty bottom which is going to be your name, phone number and that’s it. Keeps it real.
CeCe: You heard it here first people. Your emails are your new sandwiches, so I think we got to hashtag going for that already Jeff. I can feel it.
Jeff: No, I’m trending. We’re trending.
CeCe: All right. Thanks so much for joining us today with Strictly Sales, and we’ll see you next time.
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Photo by: Michael Carriere

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