Forget the Subject: Why The First Line of Your Email Matters More

Most salespeople spend too much time thinking about the subject lines of their emails. They carefully craft those few words, only to have prospects skip over the subject and go straight to what matters most: their first line.

Technically, what I’m talking about here is the “preheader” or “preview text”, which usually includes the first part of the email’s opening sentence. I always look at that text to tell what the email’s really about, see if it’s from a real person, and decide whether I need to read the rest. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of salespeople aren’t crafting their opening lines with as much care as their subjects.

If you’re crafting a sales email that you want to grab your prospect’s attention you should aim for two key qualities: it needs to be personalized and compelling.

Personalize It

Subject: Your next best sales solution!

“Hi Dante, If you’re looking for the best way to make…”

What’s wrong with the preheader text above? Well, it could be a lot better, but one easy way to punch it up would be with a little bit of personalization.

Most people, especially key decision-makers in charge of budgets, are bombarded with generic emails every day. Even if you’ve put some great personalization into the body or call-to-action of your email, I’m probably never going to see it if your preview text doesn’t give me any reason to think you’re emailing me specifically.

What’s my job title? What team am I in charge of? You should be targeting key decision-makers that you already know these things about, so it’s the easiest thing in the world to make a change as simple as “I noticed you run HR at Salaria.”

Just that tweak can get me to open an email and give you the few seconds you need to make your actual pitch. Salespeople can set themselves far above their competitors with easy, high-level customization.

Give Me One Good Reason

All you need to do is give your prospect one good reason to open that email. It can seem like a daunting task to compress a pitch to just a few words and make it customized to your prospect. But it’s all far simpler than it appears.
Let’s say you’re pitching a solution that makes it easier for HR departments to contact people. Your first sentence just needs to include a) that you know your prospect is in HR and b) that you want to help them.

Subject: Verified phone numbers
“Hi Dante, As Head of HR, you can raise candidate answer rates…”

That first sentence doesn’t need to name your product. It doesn’t even need to finish your full pitch or tell your prospect how you’ll give them what they want. All it needs to do is give a little bit of customized information and one way you can make your prospect’s life better.


What About the Subject?

That’s not to say the subject never matters. But in my experience, subject lines don’t always make as much of a difference as the first text of an email. The hyperfocus on an email’s subject can do salespeople a disservice, distracting them from what really matters.

A personalized, compelling opening line to an email can make all the difference. Let me know what you think about email subjects vs. opening lines! Which do you think matters more?

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