Discover the Formula for the Perfect Sales Email Sequence

Why do certain sales emails have you eagerly clicking “Buy Now” while others see the dreary fate of the trash bin in seconds? 

The magic lies in the composition of the email – the carefully chosen words that captivate the reader, honestly show the value of your offer, and make the sale irresistible. In other words, it all comes down to the art and science of email copywriting.

While it’s still important to have a visually appealing email design (I love Flodesk for this! [affiliate link for 50% off]) the real game-changer is the content. A well-designed email might catch the eye, but the words will compel action. 

In today’s article, I’ll share the strategies I use to craft high-converting sales email sequences. They are adapted from Donald Miller’s must-read book, “Marketing Made Simple.” This book might be the best investment you’ve ever made in your business marketing!

Now, let’s uncover the email marketing formula that converts prospects into customers and clients. This is the six-email, automated sequence that your prospects will receive. 

Email #1: Deliver Your Freebie

A prospect had to find you somehow, right? Most small businesses use lead magnets to encourage people to give their email addresses in exchange for a valuable freebie. At the bare minimum, you should have a newsletter sign-up box on your website, and this first email confirms their subscription to your list. 

But your “delivery” email should do more than just give them the PDF, video series, discount code, webinar, quiz results, newsletter confirmation, or other asset that you promised. Not much more (you should never have a hard sell in this email!) but we should still be strategic about it. 

Tips for Email #1

  • Keep it short and sweet, perhaps three brief paragraphs. 
  • It’s okay to include links to your website and social media channels, but don’t make a hard sell or call-to-action. The only CTA in this email is to get their freebie. 

Outline of Email #1 

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Deliver the free content, such as: “Here’s the ____ we promised!”
  • Include a 1-2 sentence summary of why you exist and what problem you solve. This is called your “one-liner” and the steps to create it are included in the “Marketing Made Simple” book, if you’d like some help. 
  • Thank them for checking out your company. Perhaps mention that you’ll follow up in a few days. 

That’s it! This is the easiest email to write in the entire sequence. 

Email #2: Problem + Solution

I love the “problem + solution” email because, again, it’s pretty simple to write. You aren’t trying to make a super hard sell in this email. Most prospects won’t buy in this email; it’s going to take a couple of emails in the sequence.

So, this email provides an introduction to you/your company and makes a quick pitch. We’re going to be offering them a chance to buy from us in this email – buy a product, book a consultation call, sign up for your upcoming event, etc.

Tips for Email #2

  • Keep your pitch concise. This isn’t the time to copy and paste your entire sales landing page or include 18 customer testimonials.
  • If you have a multi-faceted business, focus on just one overarching solution they can invest in or a single CTA that you want them to take. Do not overwhelm your prospect with a ton of options. 

Outline of Email #2 

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Perhaps mention the freebie they got the other day: “I hope you’re enjoying your…”
  • Identify the problem you solve.
  • Acknowledge and empathize with their pain.
  • Pitch your event, product, or service as the solution that will resolve this pain point.
  • Write a CTA to that exact solution.

This email goes more in-depth than the first one but it’s still pretty straightforward. If you understand your customer, you already know their pain point and how you solve it. Again, if you need help fleshing this out, “Marketing Made Simple” teaches you how to do it. 

Email #3: Customer Testimonial

Here’s another email that will pretty much write itself! Go through all your customer/client feedback and find a stellar customer testimonial (or two) to do the “selling” for you. Your new prospects will feel more confident in their purchasing decision if there are authentic reviews.

As Donald Miller writes in “Marketing Made Simple”: “One of the ways we feel safe is if there are more people involved. That’s one of the reasons customer testimonials are so important.”

Tips for Email #3

  • Is your product, service, or event brand-new? Repurpose customer feedback from similar offers you’ve created, to use in this email. You do not have to be disingenuous as if they’re reviewing an offer that hasn’t yet been launched; simply say: “Here’s what (name) had to say about our brand…” or “We helped (name) with a similar problem; here’s what s/he had to say!”
  • It’s okay to use anonymous testimonials, but try to at least use the person’s first name. 
  • If you don’t have one standout testimonial to use, grab a few one-sentence reviews or excerpts from full testimonials to make your point. 
  • Don’t ramble in this email! Let the testimonial speak for itself. 

Outline of Email #3 

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Briefly summarize your offer again. 
  • Use a transition phrase, such as, “If you’re not sure about (offer), check out what (name) had to say…” or “Here’s the kind of results you can expect…”
  • Insert the written testimonial. 
  • If applicable, provide a link to a place with more testimonials, such as your Google review page, your Facebook review tab, a link to a testimonial video, or a page on your website, within your content. 
  • Write a strong CTA to your offer, adding urgency if applicable. 

After you send this email, you should start seeing an uptick in conversions. 

Email #4: Overcome an Objection

Objections are one of the most frustrating parts of the sales process. They are completely unique to you, your offer, and each individual prospect – but to make this easier, Hubspot has identified four categories of objections: lack of budget, lack of trust, lack of need, and lack of urgency. 

Before you start writing this email – which, in my opinion, is the second-hardest in the sequence to write – you should put some serious thought into the objections that are holding people back from taking the next step. 

Tips for Email #4

  • Another way to define “objection” is “doubt.” What doubts do your prospects have about you, your brand, or your offer? 
  • It might be tempting to solve ALL objections in this email, but focus on just one and address it head-on. 

Outline of Email #4 

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Briefly summarize your offer again. 
  • Bring up the objection, empathize with it, and then address it firmly. Here are a few template ideas to get your wheels turning: 
    • “I know you must be thinking (insert objection). And I totally get it! But consider this: ____”
    • “But wait, what about (insert objection)? Don’t you feel like (state objection another way)? Let’s talk about it.”
    • “If you’re like many people, you’re concerned about (objection), which makes a lot of sense. But look at it this way…”
  • If applicable, provide a link to the FAQ page on your website, within your content. This allows you to answer more objections without taking up a ton of space in the email. 
  • Write a strong CTA to your offer, adding urgency as applicable. 

You aren’t going to solve every individual objection for every single reader, but by addressing the question or concern you hear the most often, you can use this email to provide reassurance. If you’re not sure where to begin, I invite you to explore the full Hubspot article for an excellent breakdown of sales objections and how to handle them.

Email #5: Paradigm Shift

Ready to tackle the most challenging email in the sequence? Let’s talk about the “paradigm shift” email! I’m going to let Donald Miller in “Marketing Made Simple” explain what this means: 

“A paradigm shift email is another way of overcoming a customer objection. Many customers will feel like they’ve already tried whatever it is you’re selling…but if you can explain to them how you’re different and that they actually haven’t tried something like this, exactly, they’ll be more likely to look at you through fresh eyes. A paradigm shift is language that says, ‘You used to think this, but now you should think this way.’”

Tips for Email #5

  • Be direct in this email. We want to call out their pain point(s) and help them see that they can’t afford NOT to invest in your product, service, or event. 
  • This email can be longer than the other ones in your series. 

Outline of Email #5

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Two approaches you could take in the next section, to make the paradigm shift:
    • Option 1: Write a series of pointed questions to remind them of their pain point and how other solutions have not worked. 
    • Option 2: Write a customer story about someone who thought they had it all figured out, but actually didn’t. Once they tried your offer, they experienced XYZ results. 
  • Write out your offer again, really emphasizing the benefits (not just the features; here’s the difference), perhaps as a bulleted list. 
  • Insert 1-2 hard-hitting testimonials that share the results of your offer. 
  • Write a strong CTA to your offer, adding urgency as applicable. 

Writing a paradigm shift email takes some time, but it’s well worth it. You are creating this email to appeal to the person who is on the fence, and you want to give them multiple reasons to take the leap. Again, you will see conversions go up after you send this email!

Email #6: Sales Email

Good news: We’re back to another easy email! You are not trying to convince in this email; you are only asking for the sale. You want them to make a yes-or-no decision, right now. 

Tips for Email #6

  • This can be another very short email, just like Email #1. 
  • Your tone should be direct, yet friendly. If they don’t buy, you still want them on your ongoing newsletter list, after all!

Outline of Email #6 

  • Greeting with their name.
  • Include a 1-2 sentence summary of why you exist and what problem you solve. This is called your “one-liner” and the steps to create it are included in the “Marketing Made Simple” book, if you’d like some help. (Hint: You used this in Email #1, too!)
  • Ask for the sale. Add urgency as applicable. 

Yup, that’s it! This last email is usually only a few sentences long. 

How Far Apart Should Your Emails Be?

The time between each automated email depends on your sales cycle. If you have a limited-time offer, you’ll need to squeeze in all these emails before the offer expires. If it’s an evergreen offer, you can space them 3-5 days apart. 

Can You Combine Some of These Emails?

Sometimes, you have a good reason for a shorter email sequence, perhaps 4-5 emails instead of all six. I recommend shortening this sequence strategically and only if you have to by combining the themes of some of the emails. Here are two ways you could do it: 

  • Email #3 and Email #4 work well together because you can use a customer testimonial to overcome a common objection. 
  • You could also combine Email #1 and Email #2 but I would caution you to still keep this email very concise, because it’s the first one in the sequence and you don’t want to see a ton of unsubscribes right out of the gate! 
  • Never skip or combine Email #5, even though it’s the hardest one to write. The effort is worth it! 

Need Help Writing Sales Email Sequences?

You’re either feeling very empowered right now, ready to write your emails based on these formulas, or you’re feeling very overwhelmed!

If you’re in the latter boat, I invite you to reach out to me to get some help putting together a successful sales email sequence! You can book a consultation here or shoot me a DM on LinkedIn, here.