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Do’s and Don’ts of Outbound Sales Messaging

stewartIf you’ve been following some of our most recent posts (like Outbound Sales — Messaging, Medium, Method) you know we’ve been digging into the world of outbound sales development.

In starting a new outbound campaign, messaging will either make or break you. There is only one shot to make a first impression.

While there are probably a lot of things that you want to say (that’s a good thing!), it’s important to differentiate what you need to say vs. what can wait until the first (or second) call — it can be off-putting to the prospect if your emails are all about what you do, and not about how you can be helpful.

Once you start writing, it’s easy to feel like you have to get it all in there — but the trick with crafting outbound emails is to take a step back with fresh eyes and break down key points in a short, friendly, but helpful way.

Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to guide you as you craft your campaigns:


  • Set up a framework for messaging — ie. Intro >> Give em’ some meat >> Maybe some more >> and a final “Break-Up” email.
  • Set up a timeline — give it a few days between each email…maybe it takes a month+ for a campaign to run its full course.
  • Have a clear, consistent call to action — “quick chat” and “sign-up here” are good ones to use, but don’t use them together.
  • Use an appropriate tone of voice as the sender.
  • Make the tone of voice appropriate for the prospect — ya know like don’t email the CEO and start with “Hey Joe — how’s it goin over @ Joe’s Place??”
  • Use short, attention grabbing subject lines — don’t let someone say “no” before they even open your email.
  • Use relevant social proof.
  • Highlight specific pain points that will resonate with prospects — convey your benefits.
  • Take time to make sure you’re talking to the right person.
  • Keep an eye out for things you may want to A/B test — because you’re probably not going to get it perfect the first time.


  • Write an essay on why you are the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Only focus on what you can do — it should be clear why the prospects should care about what you have to say.
  • Write subject lines that look like a senior thesis title.
  • Go overboard on the “attention grabbing” tactics (you might use one meme..MAYBE)
  • Use a fake voice — your emails should sound like you are talking out loud.
  • In addition to the above — don’t use bold or underlined text… there’s just no need.
  • Try to sound like a slimy sales guy…keep it real.

There are a lot of “best practices” out there (along with some strong opinions) for cold email templates. Our pointers may not be the ones you follow, but at the very least, please stick to the Golden Rule of outbound: don’t be too annoying. =)

Finding What Works

Before you get too deep in your new email campaigns, take some time to look at examples, or even the outbound emails that you have received. Would you respond to them? Maybe you already did. Look at the things that piqued your interest and what ultimately made you reply, or maybe not reply. Keep the perspective of the prospect in the back of your brain while editing your copy — remember the focus should be on how you can help them and not, “HEY! Look at what I can do!”

For some great examples on the good, bad, and ugly of outbound templates — check out salesyemail.com.


2 responses to “Do’s and Don’ts of Outbound Sales Messaging”

  1. Great points! Crafting a 4-sentence email that is relevant and offers some real value is a challenging task. It’s all in the details and a lot depends on who your target group are. “Don’t be too annoying” is a great rule, but unfortunately the line between persistent/creative and annoying/salesy is very fine and you need to discover where it is according to your specific group of prospects. That’s why one more point I would add here is not to give up when things don’t work from day one. Effective cold outreach is something that cannot be learned overnight.

    The key is to find out what works for our own target group and the product/service we are offering to them — and that takes time and requires testing numerous versions of copy and delivery settings. I guess the universal rule to follow is to stay focused on the prospect and use the email as a way to start a mutually valuable relationship, and not an easy way to sell things.

    BTW, thanks for salesyemail.com, that’s a place I’ve been waiting for a long time. 🙂

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