Are Email Templates Killing Your Pipeline?

Whatever you call them — templates, cadences, sequences, or playbooks — automated sales outreach tools claim that using email templates to increase your email velocity will increase your pipeline. But is this scattershot approach actually killing your pipeline? Worse yet, if we really think the future of sales is mostly automated, what role is left for us humans?

Curious to solve this dilemma I reached out to high performing Account Executives at leading sales organizations, including Whoop, Catalant, and Hubspot, to see how they build and close their pipeline. There was a resounding sentiment through their sales tactic; impersonal mass emailing is declining in effectiveness.  I speculate that as more companies adopt these mass-outreach approaches and drive up noise in prospect’s inboxes, everyone’s effectiveness goes down.  What I found is that top performing sales reps today are investing the time required to deliver a personal touch that goes beyond just merge fields.

Companies like Yesware, Streak for Gmail, and Mailchimp allow you to send email templates to thousands of people every day. You can change some fields like the recipient name, company name, and one or two keywords. These mass email dumps generally only receive a 5-10% open rate and an even smaller response rate. So we have to ask ourselves: is all of the work sourcing or qualifying hot leads worth it when 90% of people never read your emails?

Sales Person Email Templates

How do HubSpot Account Executives Use Email Templates?

Chris Alto, an Account Executive on the inbound team at Hubspot, claims personalization is one of his core strategies for pipeline success. He believes “it just comes down to doing your research.” The higher level of connection you can produce, the more likely they are to respond.

There is a fine line for this research because you only have eight hours a day.  Alto says you have to ask yourself: “should I spend my time [researching], or should I send a template?” It is a tough decision because you have a quota to reach, and too much research can detract from the actual outreach.    

Alto’s strategy is to keep the email “short and sweet… and always make sure to have a follow-up”. Emails are there to spark interest, and the best way to do that is through simplicity. Find a connection with their Linkedin; their college, an article they wrote or an initiative they are working on. The first email “has to be about them” so they feel like you genuinely care about them.

How do Whoop Account Executives Use Email Templates?

AJ Baker, a Performance Associate at Whoop, uses templates as part of his morning routine and reports that templates actually can be effective, but only if you have enough variation. “I probably have used 20-30 different templates,” he explained. Which one he sends “depends on the type of person [he is] reaching out to. Some people want shorter versus longer” email. In essence, the templates have to match the style of the reader, or they will not respond. Based on his experience, the white blanket approach of sending out a giant batch of emails a day with the same template does not work.

Baker has a bold personal target: he “wants to reach out to 100 cold leads a day.” Even still, he is getting response rates of up to 60%. He claims his secret lies in the personalization of the template. The message is the same, but how you present it is the most important. According to Baker, humanizing these outreaches is the key to successfully getting through.

There is an element of reciprocity in personalization.  It’s like the small amount of guilt you get when you try a free food sample in Costco but don’t buy the product. From a salesperson, a personalized email shows that you spent the time to learn about them, and reciprocity suggests that they should then be more willing to learn about you and what your product offers.   Alto says always make sure to send three to four follow-up emails. These are even more simple than the first touch — perhaps just a brief sentence reminding them of your first email. The goal of this step is to bring your email to the top of their inbox to stay relevant.

How do Catalant Account Executives Use Email Templates?

Even more important than the body is the subject. This is the first, possibly the only thing, a potential customer will read. Jack Pinto, a member of the enterprise solutions team at Catalant swears by his subject customization strategy.  The subject is not a summary of his emails it’s just an enticement to open the email so they read more.  Pinto’s subjects are typically just 3 words that will connect with the recipient: their college, perhaps their previous employer, and a product or project the prospect may sell. He wants to show them that they are more than just a number.  He’s done his homework on their background and the things that matter to them.”  Baker and Alto believe the subject line has to be relevant to the reader. They argue that finding keywords that are relevant to their field need to go into the subject line. Baker reaches out to athletes and fitness professionals, so terms like “fitness space performance” or “sports scientists” resonate with his clientele.

When reaching out to cold or warm leads the main thing you have to keep in mind is the goal of each email. The email is only there to secure a meeting or a demo where you will then be able to prove your concept and close the deal.

When you are reaching out to a new lead, keep these things in mind:

1. Personalization and humanization are key to standing out in an inbox.

2. Keep the body short and sweet and don’t spend all your time researching.

3. Follow up, follow up, follow up until they respond.

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