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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

You’re Not as Important as You Think You Are — 7 Ways to Get Prospects to Respond to Your Email

7 Ways to Get Prospects to Respond to Your Email

Email continues to be a very effective way to engage with prospects and clients. However, consider these facts (Source).

  • In 2022 there were over 330 billion emails sent and received per day.
  • That number is expected to be almost 350 billion per day in 2023
  • The average person sends and receives 121 business-related emails per day. Remember, that’s an average. That amount can easily be doubled for an executive-level decision-maker.
  • Just because an email is sent doesn’t mean it’s opened and read. The average open rate for businesses across all industries is just 18%.

Today’s decision-makers are so busy that they don’t have time to read all the emails in their inboxes, much less reply to everything. But there are a few tried-and-true ways to get prospects to read and respond.

Track, Measure, and Improve Cold Email Prospecting

1. Create a compelling subject line

The objective of the subject line is to provide the recipient with a good reason to open and read your message. Don’t try to be too cute or try to trick your prospect into opening your email (that will ultimately backfire). Instead, be straightforward and honest. Give them a hint about what the message is about. If you can, use a referral name or industry experience to add credibility.

2. Keep the contents short

Keep in mind that more and more emails are being received and read on mobile devices. Even a short email message can appear lengthy on an iPhone screen. If your prospect sees lines and lines of text, more often than not, they’ll just hit the delete key.

So write your email and then let it sit for a few minutes. Then come back to it and challenge yourself to make it shorter. You’ll usually discover alternate phrases and word choices that will help shorten the message. Look for opportunities to use bullets instead of full sentences. Do this process a few times until you feel confident that you have the shortest email possible while still communicating the intended message.

4. Focus on the prospect

Imagine your prospect reading your email and then asking, “So what? Why should I care?”. Make that an easy question for them to answer. This can be done if you write about topics they care about. Do a little research and customize your message to indicate that you understand their business challenges, and your email could be the first step to addressing their pain points. Don’t be vague or generic. Be specific about the potential value you can deliver.

Write Prospecting Emails That Actually Get Replies

5. Add value

Your prospects don’t want to be sold. Instead, inform and educate. Tell them something they don’t already know. And that doesn’t mean you give them a laundry list of your solutions features and benefits. Sharing industry insights from credible third-party sources will help bolster your bona fides and establish your credibility with the prospect.

5. Make it easy to respond

You can remove as much friction from the process as possible by offering a clear and simple call-to-action. Too often, salespeople offer several different options for the recipient to take action at the end of an email. They’re trying to be accommodating, but too many options will just cause the prospect to have to stop and think for too long.

Make it easy. If the objective is to schedule a meeting or call, then include a link to your calendar. This eliminates the back-and-forth that can occur when trying to coordinate schedules.

6. Use social proof

Do you have a referral? Do you know people in common? Using the name of a colleague or shared connection will go a long way in getting a prospect to reply. A Yesware study showed that emails mentioning other stakeholders at the company increased response rates by as much as 74%. If you used the name of a client in the same industry in the subject line, go ahead and write a 1-2 sentence explanation of how you helped.

7. Send at the individual’s best time

We are all creatures of habit. We tend to do the same things at the same times every day. That includes reviewing our inboxes. Some people check their email first thing in the morning. Others check it before they quit working for the day. Others check it multiple times throughout the day.

Try sending messages at various times of day until you can find the “sweet spot.” If you can send your message at a time your prospect is more likely to open and read it, then your chances of getting a positive reply go up significantly.


Putting these seven ideas into action requires salespeople to slow down. Stop blasting generic email messages to lists of potential prospects.

Take a breath, do some research, craft a customized message that will be meaningful to your target decision-maker, and review and edit it several times before hitting the send button. Adding this process and extra steps may take a few more minutes of your day, but it will pay dividends with improved results and more positive email replies.

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Editor's Note: This blog has been updated from its original publishing date.

Topics: sales process prospecting