Writing sales emails is one of the hardest parts of your sales reps’ jobs. Should they try to be funny or straightforward? Build rapport or go straight for the clear value prop? Aim high and entice the CEO or start small by finding the right champion?

The answers to these questions are all context-dependent, but some parts of writing a great sales email aren’t. There is a handful of fundamentals that are universal for writing effective sales emails that get results, regardless of your company’s size, industry or product ‒ and it’s important that your sales reps understand these fundamentals before sending their first sales email.

What sales emails basics should you instill in your reps? We talked to industry experts and sales reps with track records of turning sales emails into customers to come up with our list of the 10 Golden Rules of Sales Emails.

    1. Do Your Homework. Most sales reps have so many emails and calls to make each day that they tend to feel like they can’t devote much time preparing for those calls and emails. While understandable, this mentality ends up making reps’ jobs harder, not easier. Invest 10 minutes into researching your prospect — their role, their social presence, their company’s website — and they’ll see your response rates rise.
    2. Devote Time to Crafting Your Subject Line. Most sales emails never get opened; sad but true. That’s why the subject line is so disproportionately important. Making sure your reps’ subject lines are specific and targeted (including the prospect’s name or their company’s) is an effective way to get passed the initial “send to spam” hump.
    3. Stay Focused. Your company probably does a lot of things, and that’s great, but when sending sending a sales email, it’s best for your reps not to muddy your message by listing every feature and value prop. Have them stick to one and make it as clear and direct as possible. Which one should they pick? Have them use pre-email research to pick the aspect of your product or service that most closely aligns with the prospect’s pain.
    4. Always Include a Strong Call to Action (CTA). The goal of a sales email is not to sell your product — it’s to get a response. And that’s why having a clear, simple CTA is perhaps the most important rule on this list. If your prospect isn’t sure exactly what you’re asking for or how he or she is supposed to respond to your email, your reps will never get a response. Any time they send a sales email, have them make sure their CTA is actually aligned with the response you want, and that it is an easy, straightforward action to complete.
    5. Tailor Your CTA to the Prospect. This one gets overlooked all too often. Your reps can’t use the same CTA for all of your sales emails. For example, if they’re emailing a CEO at a mid-sized business, it probably doesn’t make sense to ask for 30 minutes on their calendar. Instead, your ask could be for a referral to the right person. Whatever they do, make sure that the CTA isn’t only clear and direct, but also tailored to the specific prospect you’re reaching out to.
    6. Remember the “Why You? Why You Now?” Structure. There’s nothing worse than getting a sales email and not knowing why. Avoid making your prospects go through this by following a simple “Why You? Why You Now?” structure. Essentially, this is just a way of crafting your email so there’s no ambiguity about why your reps are reaching out to that particular prospect, and why they’re reaching out now.
    7. Always Be Helping. Some salespeople view any contact as the right time to make the hard sell. Realistically, though, this approach comes off as overly sales-y and aggressive. Instead, have them think of themselves as an advisor. Your product or service should help a prospect solve a particular problem, so use your email as a way to start thinking of ways for your prospect to solve or mitigate that problem. Pertinent articles (especially your own marketing collateral), free tools, data — these are all useful things to add to an email. Once the prospect has discussed their pain with you, then you can start showing how your product can help them.
    8. Utilize Your Signature. Email signatures are most often an afterthought, but they are actually an essential part of an effective sales email. Sure, there are the basics: include your work phone number, role, and maybe a link to your LinkedIn profile. But there are also a few ways to get even more from your email signature, such as promoting an upcoming event, linking to a popular piece of content, or even including a link to your calendar (using an app like Assistant.to) so that eager prospects can book meetings themselves.
    9. Do a Thorough Quality Check. Nothing saps your reps’ credibility more quickly than a mistake. It’s an easy step to skip, but having your reps double check their emails for typos, missing words, and broken links is one of the most effective ways to maximize the number of responses they get from their daily sales emails.
    10. Be Human. Your reps should be thoughtful, detail-oriented, helpful, focused, but, above all, human. Everyone knows what a form email looks like. Everyone knows what a sales pitch is. And no one responds to them. Let your personality show through (but not overpower) your reps’ sales emails and they’ll have a lot better luck connecting to the actual humans on the other side.