Lurking somewhere in a beige office cubicle, an ineffective sales rep hits send on a truly horrible cold sales email. Imagine the shock when you receive it and realize that somewhere, a sales rep believes this appalling email appeals to cold prospects. Everything about it is wrong – from the opening line to the many typos sprinkled liberally throughout.

What you’re about to see is an actual sales email that we’ve received in our own inbox, with names and pertinent details redacted. Prepare yourself – these sales crimes are real, and so are the misguided sales reps who chose to hit send. We only hope that by analyzing the worst of the worst sales emails, you will never make these terrible sales mistakes yourself.

Some sales reps have no idea how to write a sales email. These are their stories.

The Vague Value Prop

This unfortunate email suffers from an all-too-common problem: a lack of specificity. Preferably, you should send out emails that appeal directly to your company’s ideal customer profile. This means a cold sales email should talk about a definitive business problem, a specific product or service solution, and close with a strong call to action to set up next steps. However, this email does none of those things.

Just consider the value proposition in the very first sentence: “I wonder how your company is doing and if there (sic) any annoying thing you currently experience that we could help to fix?” First of all, there is a typo in this email, which is unacceptable. You should always proofread emails carefully. In addition, this an incredibly vague sentence that cannot honestly (in good conscience) be called a value proposition. This pitch could easily apply to anything from IT services to janitorial services. When a prospect has no idea what a rep is selling or what their business does, there’s hardly any chance that the email will catch their attention.

 If inexpensive is the best thing you can say about your product or services, your pitch is in serious trouble. 

It’s not until the third sentence that this email mentions User Interface (UI) development, which is ostensibly the service they’re pitching. But even after that, the language used in the email remains very vague. The rep offers no real competitive differentiator from the other UI dev companies out there. This company “offers inexpensive resources” related to technologies like PHP and Android. However, so do many other companies. If inexpensive is the best thing you can say about your product or services, your pitch is in serious trouble.

In closing, the call to action for the email is also weak. The rep wants you to send them a time to set up a call OR you could visit their website to learn more. A sales email should have a single, strong CTA; not two weak ones. Overall, the language of the email is vague, confusing and has hardly any chance of succeeding with even a highly-qualified prospect.

How to Improve the Pitch

This email would have been much more effective if the sales rep started off the message with a common – but specific – business problem related to UI. For example, the rep could have said, “Do your customers complain that it’s difficult to navigate your app or your website? Do they often ask for a link to a page because they can’t find it themselves?” This immediately gets to the heart of a business difficulty that many people experience and also sets up for the coming value proposition.

Then, every sales email must have a strong value proposition. For example, “Our company offers expert analysis of your UI, along with custom software development to improve your customer’s experience of your app. We work with almost any programming language, including Ruby on Rails, PHP, HTML5 and more.” Your pitch could get even more specific, and you should always be testing new phraseology and descriptions to find the most effective version.

Learn More about Effective Sales Prospecting»

What Went Wrong?

While it’s tempting to dismiss this sales email because of the obvious problems, the real question is how the rep could possibly believe this would work? Though there may be some sales reps who put zero effort into crafting emails, it’s more likely that this rep worked hard on the pitch and simply doesn’t know better than to write a vague email. So what is the thinking behind this sales email crime? The main reason reps write vague emails is because they believe writing a specific email will alienate too many prospects.

In fact, the opposite is true. While fewer people overall may be interested in your specific product, you will get a stronger connection with a smaller number of highly-qualified prospects who are more likely to turn into customers. While your sales emails may not be quite this bad, you may also have a tendency to be slightly vague in emails, and should work to improve your style. Don’t shy away from getting specific in your pitch to prospects.


Hopefully, you will never fall victim to the vague sales email in the future. Keep an eye out for the next edition of True Crimes: Cold Sales Emails for more lessons in perfecting your pitch.

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