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Don’t ask for a meeting in your first sales outreach!

What’s the right call-to-action for sales emails?

Published 10th February 2021
Photo of Emanuel Frauenlob, CEO and co-founder of Mesg.ai

Emanuel Frauenlob

CEO and co-founder of Mesg.ai

Writing effective emails is difficult. Writing cold sales emails that get a response is very difficult!

Do you know the feeling of not getting responses after sending dozens of sales emails? Your CRM says that those well-researched emails you’ve crafted are being opened, however you’re just getting radio silence from your inbox.

One of the reasons for a low response rate could be you’re using the wrong call-to-action (CTA).

While an engaging subject line drives email open rates, it’s the CTA that drives response rates.

A call-to-action triggers the next intended action of your prospect

What is a CTA? It’s quite simple: it’s a sentence or phrase in your email that triggers the next intended action of your prospect. Importantly, a good call-to-action needs to mirror your prospect’s state-of-mind. Your CTA will vary depending on your prospects position in the buying process.

3 types: Specific meeting CTA, open-ended meeting CTA, and interest-based CTA

Let’s look at the three basic types of call-to-actions in sales emails:

  1. The specific meeting CTA: You ask for a meeting and provide specific proposals for date and time. E.g.: “Are you available to meet on Friday at 10 am?”
  2. The open ended meeting CTA: You just ask for a meeting, but don’t specify date or time. E.g.: “Do you have time next week to meet?”
  3. The interest-based CTA: You ask to enter a conversation. E.g. “Let me know if you’re interested and I can send you further information”. Or, “would you like to learn more about how other companies benefited from our solution?”

Use a low-friction call-to-action in your first outreach

The key to an optimal CTA for a sales email is to find the right balance between friction - how easy is it for the recipient to say “Yes” to your request - and progress - how much can you move your prospect towards becoming a customer.

/assets/blog/cta-chart.jpg

Meeting CTAs (both specific, and open-ended) are high-friction and mid- to high-progress. Interest-based CTAs are low-friction and low- to mid- progress.

In a first outreach your ultimate goal is to get a response and start a conversation with your prospect. I therefore recommend using a low-friction approach.

In May 2020, Gong Labs conducted a study researching the success rates on the three different CTA types. There was a clear winner: The interest-based CTA!

The interest-based CTA produced double the response rate compared to the meeting CTAs. The success rate, defined as a positive response within 10 days, has been 30% for interest-based CTA, 15% for the open ended meeting CTA, and 13% for the specific meeting CTA.

/assets/blog/gong-cta-chart.png Source: Gong Labs, May 2020

Of course the interest-based CTA doesn’t progress you as much as a call with a prospect, but it starts a discussion which will help you to build a relationship and get closer to the goal of a customer meeting.

Make your CTA clear, concise and persuasive

Now that we know that an interest-based CTA performs better in your initial outreach, let’s have a look at what goes into a well-written CTA.

There are three rules that will help you formulate effective CTAs. The idea behind these, is to put yourself in the mind-set of your recipient, and to read your CTA from their perspective.

  1. Formulate a single, clear CTA

    You want to minimize friction for your prospect as much as possible. Avoid having complex CTAs and stay away from asking for two things at the same time. Think carefully about which action by the prospect will bring you closer to your goal and formulate it with simple, plain language. Is it a simple reply? Is it to open a web link? Be clear about your goal.

    Can you see why “Feel free to reach out in case of any questions.” is not as well-performing as “Would it make sense for you to pursue this topic further at this time?”

  2. Avoid pushy or salesy language

    As in all sales communication, avoid pushy or salesy language. Nobody wants to be “sold to”. Don’t over-promise and be humble. An honest question about the prospect’s interest will give you the best odds. Of course, the rest of your email needs to reflect this tone as well.

  3. Avoid jargon and bold claims

The CTA is not the place to use jargon and show off what your solution can achieve. You need to build credibility throughout your email and before you finish with a CTA.

Let’s have a look at this CTA: “Would you like to learn how our SaaS solution helped increase our customers LTV by 10% while decreasing its CAC by 20%?”

While LTV and CAC might feel second nature to you, you shouldn’t assume that your prospects have the same understanding of those terms. Your CTA gains impact by changing LTV to “more money per customer” and CAC to “cost of acquiring new customers”.

How does the following read compared to the version above?

“Our customers made 10% more money per customer and saved 20% of the cost of acquiring new customers. Would you like to learn how they did it?”

In summary, use interest-based CTAs with simple and conversational language

To make your next sales outreach a success try the following:

  1. Use an interest-based CTA
  2. Be very clear about the action you want to trigger
  3. Use simple conversational language
  4. Track the results through your CRM

Let me know how it worked!

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