Are You Pissing Off Your Prospects With These Annoying Opening Email Lines?

September 11, 2017 Sujan Patel

Count the number of times you’ve received emails with opening lines like “Just checking in” or “Circling back!”

Don’t they piss you off?

Your cold email prospects are really no different.

Ankit Prakash of EasySendy backs up that feeling with two shocking statistics:

“The average email open rate is about 22.87% across various industries, which might seem like a significant number. But the average click-through rates on these opens is merely 3.26%.”

People might be opening your messages, but if they aren’t taking action, that’s a failure of your opening line to engage prospects.

If you want prospects to open your messages and get excited about your offering, you need more than the same old, tired, rehashed opening lines.

But first – here’s a quick video to get you in the right mindset for writing killer cold emails:

Here are the WORST email opening lines you absolutely should avoid:

Do better by striking all of the following from your sales vocabulary:

“Hi Prospect, my name is…”

nobody cares about your name in sales

Two problems here:

  1. Your recipient can read. They know who sent the message because they saw it in their inbox, next to your email’s subject line. You’ve now wasted their time by repeating information they already know.
  2. Prospects don’t care who you are. Not to sound mean, but who you are doesn’t matter when you’re cold emailing. What you can do for your recipient does.

Try This Instead:

Skip the introductory opening line. Jump straight into something that’ll engage recipients, whether that’s a surprising fact, an intriguing question or a clear, concise statement of your offering’s benefits.

“I’m a sales rep for [X company].”

corny sales rep

Nobody likes being pitched to – and by introducing yourself as a sales rep, you’re making it clear that you’re about to do just that.

Instant delete.

Try This Instead:

I’m not saying you should attempt to hide the fact that you’re a sales rep from your cold email. You just don’t need to lead with that info. Save the introductions for later in your message – once you’ve caught their attention with the kind of engaging opening line described above.

Recommended Read: How To Write a Cold Email That 33% of Prospects Will Respond To

“I know you’re really busy but…”

really meme

Do you know what the second half of this message is?

Even if you don’t state it directly, cold email prospects finish this statement with: “…but I still want to interrupt you.”

We’re all busy. Pandering this way discounts the value of what you have to offer.

After all, your offer should be something so important – so monumental in its impact – that there should be no choice for your prospects but to drop everything and take action.

Try This Instead:

Make your interruption worthwhile. Respect your prospects’ time by offering something that’s clearly valuable – not by minimizing your importance.

“Can you do me a favor”

Don’t make your sales email all about you. Sure, you might need a favor. But what does your prospect need from you before they’ll take action?

Try This instead:

Prove your value before you ask for something. Remove every “I need” or “I want” statement from your opening line in exchange for phrases that focus on benefiting your readers.

Not sure if you’re hitting the right balance? Ask others in your company or network to put a fresh set of eyes on your message. If it reads as too self-centered, they’ll let you know.

“Just checking in.”

annoyed prospect

Let me be clear. There’s value in following up with cold email recipients. Often, it isn’t that they’re deliberately ignoring you. The timing might just not be right. Following up gives you the chance to reach them at a better time.

It’s the opening line “Just checking in” that I have a problem with. People know how to get ahold of you if they want to. Don’t try to slide in under the radar with this belittling statement.

Try This Instead:

Whether you’re following up once, twice or more often, don’t waste your opening line on something so bland and self-serving. Find different, yet equally engaging ways to demonstrate your value.

Who knows? By testing different questions, data points or value statements in your opening line, you might hit on a winning combination that’ll land you more leads in the long run.

Excessive punctuation (?????? or !!!!!!!)

too many exclamations

Image Source: Articulate Marketing

Ever received a message with the opening line “Did you miss this??????”

If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.

Try This Instead:

Use appropriate punctuation. Like a professional.

Opening lines that miss shared connections

awkward sales introduction

I got a cold email a while back from someone who opened his message with, “Just wanted to introduce myself.”

The problem?

We met in person at a conference a few months before that.

Needless to say, the conversation went nowhere.

Your cold email opening lines are a great place to reference a shared connection or experience, turning a cold message into a slightly warmer one. But that only works if you’re diligent about documenting your relationships and the contact you’ve had with the people in them.

Try This Instead:

Document interactions you’ve had with prospects, then use them to open your sales emails.

Even if you’re using a template-based program to handle your cold email outreach, your provider should offer the opportunity to personalize your opening line based on your connections.

Anything deceptive

sales deception

This should go without saying, but being deceptive in any part of your cold sales emails – opening lines or otherwise – is a recipe for disaster.

Recently, I received a pitch that opened:

“Sujan – what if I could make you a million dollars richer by the end of the week?”

The sender had my attention, but he lost all credibility getting it. Even if he had a solution that would have put seven figures in my bank account (spoiler alert: he didn’t), he would have needed some pretty compelling evidence to back up that kind of statement.

Try This Instead:

Be as big and bold with your value statements and brand promises as you can, but don’t be deceptive. The short-term wins are never worth the costs to your business in the long run.

Building a Winning Opening Line

At the end of the day, the best cold sales email opening lines are the ones that:

  • Capture attention
  • Establish credibility
  • Make recipients want to read more

If you aren’t sure that your current opening lines are hitting the mark, try split testing them against others that meet these three criteria. You don’t even need formal testing tools to do this – just send one batch using your original opening line and a second using a test variation.

Watch the responses you get. When you’ve nailed your opening lines, you’ll see an increase not only in opens, but in actions taken in response to your message. That might mean clicks, or it might mean replies. Either way, it should mean an improvement in the effectiveness of your cold email campaign.

What other cold email opening lines can’t you stand? Leave a comment below with the worst messages you’ve ever received.

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