How to Personalize Your Prospecting Email and Get More Opens (Templates Inside!)

Are you looking for prospecting email templates you can easily personalize? Ones that work in almost any situation?

Sure, it’s easy to craft a personalized email if you’re writing to just one prospect – especially if that person is active on LinkedIn and you can easily see what they think about the issues of the day. You can use the Basho email technique and develop something so personal it seems to come from a childhood friend.

There are some great techniques available if you can personalize your prospecting email. But if you’re sending 20 or 50 or 100 emails, that’s just not possible.

We’ve spent a long time thinking about email personalization, and we’ve developed a series of simple, one-size-fits-all templates that we’ve used with huge success.

These are techniques that are proven in the trenches. These are prospecting sales emails that get responses.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

Why Most People Suck At Outreach

When faced with the challenge of email personalization at scale, many of us resort to referencing.

“I loved your recent blog post on how the solar eclipse was actually a hoax perpetrated by big pharma to sell more vitamin D. I thought you might be interested in some of the work we are doing in file sharing technology. After all, we consider high powered file sharing the vitamin for offices deficient in streamlined communications. Get it?”


While this is a popular method for salespeople trying to forge a real connection, it just isn’t sustainable.

Less than 10% of your market will be actively posting on social and blogging platforms. If they don’t post, what are you going to reference? What are you going to say when reaching out to a lumber company with no online presence?

“Hey, that’s some great lumber you got there. It made me think of how file sharing solutions are really the lumber of the digital forest. So, uh, how are you guys sharing files today?”

At this point, you might as well just offer them a demo and get it over with.

Like so many other businesses, at Culture Amp, we ran into this same challenge over and over again.

We experimented with many ideas, including cold email templates, such as the Basho email technique, which can be useful for reaching out to social media starlets who actively post on LinkedIn or Twitter.

However, there is little in the way of good templates for reaching out to the leader of a 2,000-person company who lives in Des Moines instead of Miami and who only uses LinkedIn when they are looking for a new job.

Bonus: 4 Surprising Places to Find Warm Leads

How Long Should a Prospecting Email Be?

Your sales prospecting email should be short and sweet. Ideally, it should be no longer than 120-150 words, or about 4-6 sentences. Shorter prospecting emails that get responses are easier to read and get more replies than longer emails, especially when you’re writing to someone who is only hearing from you for the first time.

Each sales prospecting email should also end with a clear call to action that you want them to take. The call to action could be to reply, book a call, or visit a link — as long as it takes minimal effort on their part.

How Do You Write a Good Sales Prospecting Email?

Prospecting emails need to feel personal, even if they’re (mostly) written at scale. In order to be successful, you need to identify a situation that makes the email relevant, a problem you’re going to solve for the prospect, an example of success you’ve delivered for a third party, and an offer to help. I call this SP3O. Let’s look at each element in detail.

Situation (S)

First, develop an understanding of the situation that explains why you are getting in touch.

Perhaps the company has moved offices or has a new product which means their situation has changed. But perhaps it’s something external, in the outside world.

For example, the multi-billion-dollar roofing industry is triggered by damaged roofs. What causes that damage? Storms.

There is your situation.

People buy umbrellas when it rains, they eat ice cream when it’s hot, and they build bunkers when geopolitics grow tense.

Problem (P)

Each of these situations causes a problem. But is it a problem you can solve? Ask yourself, what situation creates a problem that you, your company, or your product can fix?

In identifying the situation, you have most likely already identified the problem, but it’s important to really nail it down. An easy way to do this is to reword the initial question.

Ask yourself, “What problem(s) does this situation cause the prospect?”

If we continue looking at our example of the roofing industry, the situation is the storm, and the problem is that suddenly they have a huge amount of damaged roofs to fix all at once. That means a huge amount of new customers to keep track of and reach out to.

That may or may not be a problem you can address, or there may be a separate problem that you could help with, but you need to clearly define the problem you can help with BEFORE you reach out.

3rd Party Success (3)

Now that you’ve established the situation and the problem, think for a moment and anchor it back to a prior 3rd-party success.

  • When did you last help a prospect of similar size and industry with the same situation?
  • What was their problem?
  • What was the story (Ask your sales or customer success team)?

Ideally, marketing will have some case studies on these 3rd-party successes that follow an appealing story arc. A prospect was in this situation, which caused this problem, and they used your product to solve it and live happily ever after.

RELATED: How to Use Case Studies Effectively in Sales (And Mistakes to Avoid)

Offer (O)

This exercise means nothing if you can’t conclude by offering something. (It is a prospecting email, after all!)

Oh, it’s raining and you want to be dry? Whelp, nice meeting you. I can solve that problem!

The culmination of SP3 is the O, the Offer. And if S, P, and 3 are not well defined, it’s easy to approach the prospect by asking/begging rather than offering.

Please look at our demo.

Please sign up for our mailing list.

Please please please.


No one likes a needy salesperson. The prospects are the ones in need, remember?

If you follow the framework by establishing the Situation, identifying the Problem, and drawing on previous 3rd-party successes, your outreach will evolve from pleading with passers-by to offering help to someone who is really in need.

Or you may find out it’s not a good fit and politely move on, saving both you and the prospect time.

Five Prospecting Email Templates (and Examples)

Okay, let’s see how email personalization looks in practice. Here are some prospecting email examples which follow that model.

1. An event happened somewhere that makes the email relevant

This is one of the very best options when it comes to personalizing a prospecting email, because it allows you to link your offer to a current problem the prospect may just have experienced.

Hi John,

I’m guessing your roof got hit by the hail storm over the weekend. [Situation/Problem]

Jess, our roofing engineer, just completed a repair audit of the building next to yours (Joe’s Plumbing) and found a way to cut repair cost by 50%. [3rd party success]

Do you want me to ask Jess to drop by and take a look at your roof? [Offer]



2. The prospect changed jobs

Someone in a new role is likely to need new services. This is a great situation in which to reach out and offer to solve their problems. I know I said that you don’t want to hyper-personalize, but if you can, like our template below, so much the better. This one’s a classic example of the basho email personalization technique.

SUBJECT LINE: Party at the Mann Household!

Good morning, [Name]!

First off, huge congratulations on the new role! I hope you managed to celebrate the promotion suitably in spite of lockdown?

Now, I’m not going to chew your ear off about how [Prospect’s new responsibility] is the best thing since sliced bread. I’m not going to tell you that [Your own fun tidbit that is relevant]. And I’m 100% definitely not going to tell you that [Another fun tidbit of yours].

But I would love to talk about how your employees are at the moment at [Prospect’s company] and where, if anywhere, we might be able to help keep them motivated, recognized, connected, and happy.

Can you spot a quick chat-sized gap in your calendar this week?

Here’s an example of this basho email template in action:

basho email personalization

3. An event or product is taking place

The situation could be that you have an event or product they’d like to attend. If you can find an event or product you provide which you can see is a good fit for the prospect, this offers a great opportunity to get in touch.

SUBJECT LINE: Chicken Soup for the [Product] Soul

Hi [Name],

As a [Job title] leader, are you planning on attending [Event] this year?

| thought you might like to join us. [Our company] is putting on a workshop on improving your [Prospect’s main challenge]. It’s normally $199, but if interested, | can get you a free pass to attend October 20th-21st.

We work with similar software companies like [Prospect’s company] to [Our service].

Similar to [Our competitors], but a fraction of the cost and greater global coverage, [Our company] can [2-3 compelling benefits]. The timing is likely off, but would you be open to learning more?

sales emails that get responses

4. You know they’ve seen a jump in demand

If the company’s demand situation has changed, their needs are likely to have changed. This is an excellent time to get in touch and solve their problem for them.

SUBJECT LINE: Improving [Service]

Hi [Name],

Reaching out because I know [Prospect’s company] is seeing unprecedented demand.

Has the team considered [Your product or service]?

| ask because we’ve helped [Niche industry] companies like [Prospect’s company] with a similar challenge resulting in:

[Bullet list of benefits/results backed by statistics]

Would you be interested in receiving a case study related to this challenge? Happy to share more and answer any questions.

best sales emails

5. They’ve set themselves a goal that you can help with

This is another excellent situation where you can personalize based on minimal information. If you can see that the company or individual has set themselves a target, and they may need your product to help meet it, you’ve got a clear opportunity.


Hi [Name],

Being the [Prospect’s job title] and looking to grow the ARR to $XXX by [YEAR] and growing the team to support this is an admirable goal.

In light of this, would you be open to exploring options to accelerate?

Specifically, in the form of supporting all your new [Prospect’s department] hires with [Your products or services].

Chat next week?

These are only a handful of sales email examples. You can find more sales email templates that will keep you out of the spam folder or promotions tab.

There are also many different ways you can shape an outbound email to successfully reach out to your prospects.

Now, let’s look at more tips for getting your prospecting emails right. Here’s some smart advice from sales and marketing pros in the community.

More Prospecting Email Tips From Experts

1. Craft a perfect subject line (Seth M. List)

Subject lines can make a world of difference. Recent research found that only 21.3 percent of emails get opened, so your subject line is crucial to actually get in front of the prospect. It’s all very well adhering to industry standard best practices for prospecting emails when it comes to the body, but if no one sees it, that doesn’t matter.

2. Format your emails for the Gmail preview (Caelum Shove)

Gmail gives you about 20 words between the subject line and first sentence — which is what convinces a prospect to open or delete. Don’t include anything like: “My name is…,” “Hope all is well,” “I work at XYZ,” etc. Just get right to the point, and make sure what you need to sell is in those 20 words.

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

3. Keep it short – and follow the opening line with the ask (Austin Coffin)

We all like things short and to the point, and the idea length of an email is between 50 and 125 words.. Why not let them know why you’re emailing them quickly, and then follow up with supporting and compelling reasons to take a 15 minute discovery call?

I’ve recently begun placing the ‘ask’ portion of my emails right after the opening line. I then continue the email below with a couple of lines focused on value drivers for my business. In this case, talking about how we’ve helped their peers reduce overall telephone spend, reduce the needs for specialized IT management, and eliminate business continuity risks.

4. Leave out things that don’t sell (Jim Kim)

You don’t need to say  “Hope all is well,” or gum up your email with anything that takes away from the main point of your message, which is to immediately get their attention. Get straight to the point with something which makes the prospect curious and want to learn more.

5. Look at where your leads are coming from (Brandon Redlinger)

You shouldn’t need to do anything super creative or different in prospecting emails, lest you come across as too gimmicky. If you think you’re doing everything right in terms of your outbound emails, you may want to look upstream — that is, look at where your leads are coming from.

The perfectly crafted email (if there is such a thing) sent at the most opportune time is going to have drastically different results being sent to an A-quality lead vs a C-quality lead.

6. Send the right email to the right list (Jeffrey Ekblad)

Are you sending the same template to everyone? A huge key to a great response rate is the right message to the right list.

Now Go and Prospect!

By adopting these prospecting email templates, and following these expert tips, you can start more genuine conversations with prospects. You’ll also feel more confident in your contribution to your market.

Now you can get right to the heart of the matter and help someone who needs it.

Do you have any prospecting email strategies that work for you? Comment below to share!

Dan Murphy is the Head of Sales Development at Culture Amp in San Francisco, CA. He was the first business development hire at Udemy, and co-founded In his spare time, he enjoys surfing and loves good coffee.

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