Email Etiquette for Sales Professionals: The Basics

sales professionals

Email continues to be popular among sales professionals, due in part to the widespread comfort with the tool. But, that comfort can lead to sloppy use. Sellers may not consistently use proper etiquette, or they may be employing outdated methods. 

Email is one of the most essential tools a salesperson has in their arsenal,” writes Aja Frost for HubSpot. “Make sure you're using it well with these email etiquette tips, and you'll be on your way to starting genuine relationships with prospects.”

In her article, Frost highlights 20 necessary etiquette rules for sales emails. Below are three highlights for the very beginning of a sales relationship. These basic tips can serve as a refresher for best practices during the early stages of a sales process; consult Frost’s entire list as the relationship moves forward and your emails evolve.

3 email etiquette rules for sales professionals

Initially, when you first reach out to a lead or prospect, whether it’s a warm or cold email, your tone should be professional. This very basic element of email etiquette is important because it establishes your professionalism. It can be tempting to be casual, especially if you already know the prospect. You can still be friendly and warm; just keep your tone and language professional. 

Be mindful of the subject line

An email subject line holds a lot of power, for better or worse. And for those sending cold emails, it may be the very first impression. Email etiquette dictates that the sender avoids vague, “spammy” subject lines even if you think they are attention-​getting. Instead, use a few selective words to give the prospect some insight into the email’s content, enticing them to open. 

And be thoughtful about the subject line length. “Keep the text to 60 characters or less,” writes Rachel Cagle for SalesFuel. “That way, the recipient will be able to read all of it before the content gets cut off or they get bored. When you can fit the text into those 60 characters, add the prospect’s first name to make the line personalized. Then, you either offer value, create urgency or at least make your message interesting, if not a combination of all three.”

Grammar and punctuation matter

Establishing credibility is so important for sales professionals; poor spelling, bad grammar or punctuation errors shouldn’t be what damages a rep’s credibility. Unfortunately, even if you think they are minor issues, some prospects will think otherwise. “Punctuation is subtle when you use it correctly and obvious when you don’t,” Frost points out. “Don’t make your recipients cringe — memorize these rules and follow them religiously.”

And when it comes to spelling, just be conscious of common errors. “Unless you devote your full attention to studying grammar (which is much less lucrative than sales), you’re bound to make the occasional mistake,” she writes. “But no one will care if they’ve never heard of the rule you broke, either. Just steer clear of basic mix-​ups that your prospect will definitely catch.” These include common mix-​ups like their/there/they’re and your/you’re.

Use standard fonts and formatting

Yes, it can be fun to give emails a personal touch by using an eye-​catching font or unique formatting. But Frost advises against this practice. While using color or script may make your email memorable, it also comes across as unprofessional. Like with your tone, emails need to establish your professionalism and credibility, which can be achieved by sticking to basic email type and appearance. And remember, no matter how much attention you want your email to receive, never use all caps. 

Email can be an incredibly effective sales professional tool to reach out and engage; sellers just need to be mindful about basic etiquette. They can provide value, show professionalism and build rapport all while adhering to common best practices. 

For even more insight into crafting effective emails, check out past SalesFuel advice, including how to avoid being labeled as spam and how to demonstrate value.

Photo by Christina @wocintechchat.com

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.