5 strategies to boost email response rate, fast

Jesse Shikiar
September 7, 2022
5 strategies to boost email response rate, fast

Co-Authored by Jesse Shikiar, BDR leader at Calm for Business

Tip 1: Be Casual But Intelligent

Let me explain. Back as far as I can remember, we’ve been taught to speak professionally, use buzzwords, and sound smart. 

Sales email writing is different. It’s 2022 and people don’t want to read through buzzwords, walls of text or feature based language. The email should be about the prospect, not about us or the features we offer. 

The average time spent reading your email is 10-12 seconds. That’s how long you have to deliver a message that makes sense and can be easily understood.

Let’s talk about a few non-negotiable rules for reps I’ve coached in the past.

  • Re-read your email. Can a 3rd grader understand what you’re trying to get across? If not, make it more casual. Simplify.
  • Do you understand your buyer? And more importantly, do you understand what pain points they are most likely trying to solve? It’s easy to tell if you’re writing in their language versus sounding rehearsed. Chat with the team members at your company who fit the buyer persona to refine this.
  • Keep your primary message under 75 words - this is table stakes. One trick is to provide 1-2 sentences above the fold and reference “more details” below your signature, so the prospect isn’t overwhelmed but can dig deeper if they like.

At Champify, when we talk about being casually intelligent we don’t mean be lazy. We mean to speak in a simple way that communicates to your prospects that you know exactly what keeps them up at night and that you might have a solution to help. 

Tip 2: There is No “Right” Trigger. Remember the 20% Rule 

All too often, I see salespeople get into rabbit holes trying to craft the perfect first email. We know that on average, our best email writers will net a 15% response rate on cold outbound.  

This means that we have to figure out how to balance quality and quantity in order to back into our quota. 

Insert the 20% rule - when you’re prospecting, 20% of your email should be personalized. The rest can generally be templated based on persona or industry. Let’s look at an example:

Imagine I’m prospecting a VP of Sales Development:

“Hey Todd - saw you just posted the SDR role at Champify. Has it been easy to get some early pipeline wins?
We are helping SDRs find former champions and build warmer pipeline than normal cold outreach. 
Sound interesting?”

20% of that email is personalized. The first sentence. Everything else can be used over as long as it makes sense for the persona. 

They key is finding the right trigger. My trigger is hiring patterns. It’s specific to Todd and Champify. Below are some examples of good triggers:

Industry triggers

These are articles that specifically talk about the industry your prospect is in and what pain points they might be facing. They key is 

For example, Champify partners best with B2B SaaS companies and generally, this industry struggles with email deliverability when doing cold outbound. 

“ Hey Todd - read an article today about how bad email deliverability is for outbound reps doing cold emailing. I can imagine you’re probably looking for easy ways to find warm pipeline.”

Industry triggers work well because we sound like we’ve done the research and know what we are talking about. Builds immediate trust with the buyer. 

Account triggers

Any piece of information about the company we are going after that suggests there is a problem we can help them solve. 

In the example above, I used an account trigger about Champify’s hiring patterns - they are bringing on SDRs.

If a company is bringing on a SDR, I can generally assume they are investing in pipeline strategy.

Champify is a pipeline strategy tool - makes me think our prospect would be more likely to respond. 

Intent Triggers

I’ll caveat this one by saying an intent tool like 6Sense, DemandBase, or TechTarget is required to leverage this line of messaging. 

These tools help identify prospects that are engaging with content, ads, or your website prior to submitting an inbound lead.

Imagine if we knew that one of our prospects read Champify’s blog post about a pipeline campaign we ran successfully. 

As a rep, I can confidently assume there is a goal or challenge around pipeline and can reach out to start a conversation.

If you haven’t looked into an intent tool, I’d highly recommend doing so, as it’s been one of the most successful new channels BDRs can use to find warm pipeline.

Personal triggers

Any piece of information about the individual prospect you are reaching out to that. This one tends to be the most over saturated strategy for sales people prospecting, but it can still work. 

  • About me section on LinkedIn
  • Recommendations made by colleagues on LinkedIn
  • Job Description
  • Twitter 
  • Articles the prospect is featured in

The key with a personal trigger is that it still has to be information that allows you to assume the prospect has a challenge that your product or solution could solve. It’s not just a piece of information to “make you sound personalized”.

Thought Leadership Triggers

Articles that are being written about specific challenges your solution solves for. 

Champify is really good at helping sales teams find pipeline that is highly qualified and likely to close. 

As a seller at Champify, I might reference an article about how tricky it is to find qualified SaaS pipeline because normal channels are way over saturated with prospecting activity.  

In this case, we might even teach our prospect something, gain some credibility and look like we know market conditions in their world. 

Remember: there is no silver bullet or ‘right’ trigger. Try a handful across these different buckets, monitor response rates closely, and make small tweaks over time depending on your buyer profile. 

Tip 3: Do not be assumptive - ask for interest! 

Ever written an email that you thought was so perfect, how could you not ask for the prospects time? They must need your solution. Wrong! 

The truth is - we don’t know what the prospect is going through, what pains they are facing and what their game plan is to solve those problems.

What we do know is that we have a pool of triggers and information that make us think the prospect has a pain we can solve. Let’s not assume it’s the case though. 

We need to make an educated guess and then ask for the prospect for interest, not for time. Time assumes our email resonated and it’s narcissistic. Ask them if we hit the mark or if we are on the right track. 

Examples of great CTAs:
  • Sound like it would help?
  • Sound interesting?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • Has it been difficult to accomplish ______?

Don’t ask for their time until we confirm a challenge actually exists!!! 

Tip 4: Do the research.

I could write an entire article on how important time management is in when you are doing pipeline generation. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see salespeople make is  bouncing from one task to another. Call, email, look at an account, respond to a LI message,repeat. This kills efficiency quicker than anything else in sales. 

When it comes to prospecting efficiency, you have to block time to research an account. It’s the only way you can find compelling triggers to use to cut through the noise.

Here’s my suggestion on how to do it:

2 hours on Monday and Friday to find accounts and compile relevant information on each of them that will help speed up email writing. 

Write your triggers ahead of time so you can plug them into emails and move quicker. 

Write 5-7 triggers per account if you’re working in the enterprise, 3-4 for midmarket and 1-2 for SMB.

Once you have all of your triggers written, you’ve done the 20% of personalization we talked about before. Now you can toss prospects into a sequence, and plug and play.

This allows you to work hard and also work smart. Once you have triggers in a central location, you can also use them when cold calling to build instant credibility with a live prospect.

Here are a few examples of research that I always do before prospecting an account:

  • Who is on the executive team? 
  • Who are the key buyers? 
  • What challenges does this particularly industry face that we can help with?
  • Have we had previous engagement with this company? Closed lost opps? Old contacts? Old inbound leads? 

Takeaway: if you don’t do the research an time block it ahead of reaching out, you will have lower response rates, lower credibility, and less qualified prospects.

Tip 5: Build an email Framework (and don’t stray too far from it!)

One of the most important concepts in SaaS selling is building frameworks for success that are reliable, repeatable, and predictable. Prospecting is no exception. The advice I give BDRs early on in their email writing career is to nail the framework.

A good email writing framework allows you to layer on creative ideas, messaging tweaks, and A/B tests without straying too far from what we know works. Here’s an example:

Champify Email Framework:

  1. Trigger + Challenge Hypothesis 
  2. Solution Statement
  3. Interest based CTA

Let’s look at an example. In the scenario below, I am reaching out to a VP of Demand Generation:

Trigger: 2 New SDR jobs posted on LI

Challenge Hypothesis: My guess is that investing in SDRs signals a wider focus on pipeline generation because SDRs tend to be expensive to hire, train, and get to production. 

Solution Statement: We help reps find quick pipeline wins by surfacing champions from your customer base who changed jobs.

Interest Based CTA: Sound interesting? 

Now, put it all together.

Hey Todd - 
Saw the new job posts for SDRs today. Makes me think quick pipeline wins is top of mind for you too. 
We make it easy for reps to find champions that bought your product and moved on to a new company - lot’s of quick wins for new pipe. 
Sound like something that might help? 

Again, there will always be room to be creative, as long as you don’t stray too far from the framework that keeps your process predictable, repeatable, and reliable, and keep your messaging clear, casual, and concise.