You already know that your email’s subject line is important: It helps prospects to decide whether or not to read. But once they make that choice, what will they find inside? With all the talk about subject lines, it’s all too easy to overlook the importance of the opening line.
It’s the opening line – the first line of the inside text – that determines if your prospect will be interested in learning more about what you have to offer.
Decision-makers know you have something to sell – and already think they don’t have time.
A solid opening line motivates them to take a few moments out of their day and opens the door to a conversation. They could still decide they simply aren’t in the market (or in the mood) for what you have to say – but at least you get a fair hearing.
So, what email opening lines work? There’s a big difference between conventional cold email prospecting and warm email prospecting – an approach to email that builds a personal connection, even if you’ve never met your prospect.
Why Average Email Opening Lines Cause Prospects’ Eyes to Glaze Over
The average B2B prospecting email starts with a focus on the salesperson.
“Hi, my name is Todd,” it says. “I work with Hyper Global Mega Corp., an industry leader in sophisticated productivity solutions for the ferret farming sector. We were recently honored as Best New Company in Ferret Farming by Modern Ferret magazine. I was wondering if ...”
B2B decision-makers get tons of these emails weekly. Or even daily.
Let’s count up the reasons they’re unappealing:
- The first line – the opening per se – is devoid of content, since the reader hasn’t decided if Todd’s message is worth reading yet. Dale Carnegie said that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language to them; if he had used email, he might have added, “but not to their prospects.”
- Vague statements like “sophisticated productivity solutions,” even if they kind-of, sort-of allude to what you stand to gain, are too difficult to parse in the first ten seconds of a relationship. Most decision-makers are used to tuning them out.
- Todd may be bringing the future of ferret farming to an eager public, but to the reader, he’s just some stranger. Even the most prestigious business plaudits are likely to ring hollow here: It is just too easy to sound like a self-centered bore.
There are a lot of possible mistakes for email opening lines – and they’re very easy to make. With the right mix of savvy and empathy, however, an email can open doors in just a few sentences. Done right, it’s easier, more efficient, and more rewarding than making phone calls, too.
Email Opening Lines that Work: Three Examples
Warm email prospecting is the concept of using your email as an invitation to learn if you and your potential customer can benefit from working together. Unlike various forms of cold prospecting, it starts with an investment of genuine interest and attention from you – real relationship-building.
In short, it’s about using that opening line to make a meaningful connection.
There are three easy ways to do it:
Use a Recent Trigger Event
A trigger event is a change in a prospect’s business that represents an opportunity for both you and them. For example, your prospect may have recently received new funding, launched a product, or announced expansion into new markets.
A trigger event means there are new needs to be fulfilled. Bringing up a trigger event not only clarifies what you have to offer much more quickly, but also demonstrates you’ve “done your homework” and actually care about your prospect’s challenges.
Some opening lines:
- “Congratulations on [event] ...”
- “I have a few suggestions for capitalizing on [event] ...”
- “I read about your company’s [event] in [publication] ...”
Use Your Shared Background
No matter who they are, people like working with others they know, like, and trust. It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing and sales. So, when you make a connection with someone based on a shared background, you highlight what you have in common.
If there’s no trigger event to be found, a shared bit of background can be the ticket to a fruitful prospect conversation. For the most part, this should be business-related. Of course, some of the best prospecting experts around connect over sports, travel, or hobbies before getting down to business.
Consider some of these examples:
- “I enjoyed your post on [subject] ...”
- “Great talk at [event] ...”
- “Hello from a fellow [company, program, or school] alum ...”
Use a Personal Connection
Although there are thousands of things you might have in common with a prospect, what’s the most important one? In all likelihood, it’s a shared connection with someone you both know and respect. Ideally, you’d come recommended by that person – but it isn’t always essential.
As a salesperson, your name may not mean anything to your prospects. Touting yourself as an “expert” can easily turn them off. But leveraging your network in the right way can open a prospect’s eyes – without sacrificing integrity or authenticity by overstating your case.
These email opening lines offer some good examples:
- “Bob recommended we talk about [pain point] ...”
- “I worked with [shared connection] on ...”
- “[Shared connection] mentioned your expertise in [subject] ...”
Setting Up Your Email Opening Lines to Succeed: Some Pointers
Gallons of ink have been spilled about an email’s subject line, the very first line prospects see before they even open your message. Although much has been made of its reputation, a lot of that importance is deserved: People don’t read an email that doesn’t sound interesting to them.
Luckily, you can use that fact to your advantage. The best way to position your opening line is to make sure it works with the subject. Your subject line should have an implied promise and your opening line should deliver.
No matter what method you use, always craft your message with these elements in mind:
Prospects should see what your message is and why it matters to them in seconds. With this positive first impression, you show that you are willing to go the extra mile to learn what’s important in their world. That cultivates trust and shows you are someone worth working with.
There is nothing more aggravating to prospects than a misleading opening or subject line. “We need to talk,” “I’m confused,” or even – we’ve actually seen this one – “My lawyer wants to talk to you” – are immediate relationship-killers. Value their time by making your point clear.
A good prospecting email might be only four or five lines long. Your opening line can be anywhere from 20% to 30% of the entire message. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s easy to see that it can be just as important as your subject line!
Email prospecting may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Done right, it can be the start of great things for you and your prospects. Follow these tips and it’ll be that much easier to build a genuine connection.