How Sales People Should Use Email – Part 2

Most of us sales people these days use email a lot. I recently got to sit down with a bloke that knows a lot about how sales people do and should use email.

This is part 2 of my discussion with that bloke, Matthew Bellows, CEO of Yesware. Part 1 of the interview is here.

NE: Matthew in your research you found that sales people should NOT wait for a reply to their email? Can you tell me more about what you found?

Yes, we found that after an email had been sent, the chances of it being read decreased dramatically after the first hour and then fell incrementally lower from there. After 24 hours, the chance of business email being read is less than one percent. This really told us that salespeople should not wait for a reply if they haven’t heard back within 24 hours.   They need to be proactive about moving that relationship forward, and determine why that email may have not gotten an immediate response.

NE: Both sales and marketing people always seem hung up on this question of “WHEN should I send email? “ Your study suggests just before the weekend. I’ve seen research from Hubspot suggesting something similar. Do you think there IS a “correct” time or any time?

Our data found that open rates for emails were higher on Saturday and Sunday than during the actual workweek, proving that sending email over the weekend actually gives it a better chance of getting read.  We also found that while a lot of email activity occurs during “normal” 9 to 5 business hours, email open rates occur throughout the entire 24-hour day.  So, if you are sending out an email during the workweek, you don’t have to limit it to 9-5 hours.  It is interesting, certainly if you need to reply to a prospect or a customer you don’t want to wait to do it until over the weekend or if you have a very timely email to send you need to be sensitive to that.  But I think our data shows that sending emails out right before the weekend is a very good option for salespeople who are looking to increase the chances that the emails will be read.

NE: I noticed an interesting riddle in your study report. It said email subject lines should be 3 words or less. But that you should have value in the subject line, for example ‘Boot Camp Marketing Ideas’ – but that is 4 words! It’s not easy to add value in 3 words is it? Thoughts on how to do that?

If your subject line is over three words, on average your email open rate will be below average. But great subject lines like the one above are the exception to the rule. Keep your subject lines as short as possible, but make sure it adds value. The key is making subject lines punchy with a call to action or promise of something valuable to be learned.   Think about what gets you to open an email – if it’s very relevant to the subject areas that matter to you, and will provide some kind of value that will improve your work, your business, your profitability, your bottom line.   This is what you need to keep in mind when crafting email subject lines for your recipients –ask yourself what do they care about, what will capture their attention and offer real value to them.

NE: Have you any info about the effect of using phone in combination with email for sales people?

We didn’t include phone data in this research, but there’s lots of great data from, Vorsight and others. It’s clear that most progressive sales organizations use a blend of both channels, but we need do dive deeper to recommend real best practices.

NE: An age-old question I’ve gotten so many times is “should I email first or call first?” Have you seen anything that points one way or the other on this?

There’s no definitive data on this. It depends so much on your prospect, your product, your company and your style. My main recommendations are to try new things and measure your effectiveness carefully.

NE: Have you any thoughts on using plain text email vs. HTML? And related should email have graphics like you typically see marketers using?

I’m not a big fan of graphics-heavy email. We’ve done internal research with our own sales email, and find much higher open and response rates when the email looks like it comes from me personally than if it’s a stylized corporate mailing. That said, most business people have switched over to rich text or HTML email readers now, so feel free to use links, bolds and italics (but sparingly).

NE: Can you tell me a little about Yesware? I have not used it yet but hope to soon. What does Yesware bring to sales people and sales managers?

Sure – Yesware ( is a suite of productivity services that works where salespeople do – in their email and on their phones.  It’s available now for Gmail, and provides email analytics, customizable templates and CRM integration to help salespeople close more deals faster. We also provide Yesware Mobile that extends Yesware’s email analytics and reporting to salespeople in the field.

For sales managers, Yesware makes training, ramp-up and activity-based reporting more effective, and gives them better insight into their team’s performance.

I don’t know why you haven’t tried it yet! It’s free! If you have a Gmail and a Chrome browser, download it from here as soon as you can:

And please let me know what you think – we’re always looking for ways to improve. My email is and would love to hear your thoughts.

2 Responses to How Sales People Should Use Email – Part 2

  1. TK January 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Over here at Tout (, we’ve been helping Sales and Biz Dev pros send better emails for nearly two years. Our biggest lesson learned? Keep it short and simple in the beginning with a single call to action… THEN, once they engage, give more detailed information based on where their interests lie.

    The key here, much like the rest of Sales, is not to mimic the behavior of others, but to measure and test your own target audience and how they respond to your own messaging.

    • Nigel Edelshain February 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm #


      Agreed. “Test” is one of my favorite words. Seems to have been well-embraced by marketing (“A/B testing” etc.) but not so widespread in sales – yet.


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