I’ve posted multiple times about sales messages, sales emails, email marketing and similar topics. This post turns the information in those posts (along with some explanatory video content) into a step-by-step tutorial. I hope you’ll find it useful.

1. What is a sales message?

A sales message consists of two sentences:

  1. Benefit: The value your offering provides to your customers. Example: “Our clients hire us to provide [benefit(s) to the client.]“
  2. Differentiator: Why your offering is better than those of your competitors. Example: “They hire us, rather than somebody else, because [something unique that the competition doesn't have but the customer values.]“

Notice that both of these sentences position you, the seller, as a catalyst that helps the customer achieve the customer’s goals, and then positions your firm as the only catalyst that can do the job right. I give some examples in “2 Sentences That Engage Customers.” Here’s a video where I discuss some of the basics:



2. When and how to use sales messages.

Your sales message forms the core of four sales tools: 1) marketing emails, 2) sales emails, 3) elevator pitches and 4) cold-calling scripts. For each tool, the sales message is followed by an “ask,” which identifies the next step for the prospect (customer) to take:

  1. Marketing emails: the “ask” is usually a pointer to free content.
  2. Sales emails: the “ask” is for a response to the email.
  3. Elevator pitches: the “ask” is for a meeting to discuss things further.
  4. Cold-calling scripts: the “ask” is for a brief conversation, usually followed by a longer, scheduled meeting.

3. Marketing emails versus sales emails.

Because marketing emails and sales emails are both emails and both contain the sales message, many people confuse them. They’re actually quite different, though.

A marketing email is a form letter mailed to a large list of prospects.

Marketing emails are customized automatically by plugging database fields into the body of the email. However, when the recipient opens and reads the email, it’s obviously a form letter.

Because they’re impersonal, even a well-written marketing email will usually have a response rate of below 5 percent.

A sales email is a personal message sent to an individual prospect.

Sales emails are usually built from a template, but the sender crafts the sales message to specifically appeal to that particular prospect. When the recipient opens and reads the email, it’s obviously NOT a form letter.

Because sales emails are personalized, prospects are more likely to respond after opening and reading them. A well-written sales email can easily have a response rate as high as 90 percent.

4. Example of marketing and sales emails.

Marketing Email:

Subject: CRM Upgrades

Dear [last name]:

CRM upgrades can be expensive without the expertise that we can bring to the process. We have worked with dozens of companies similar to [company name] and gained the experience needed to upgrade your system as quickly and efficiently as possible. If this interests you, download our free eBook "How to Easily Upgrade Your CRM."

Best Regards,

John Doe

Sales Email:

Subject: RE: XYZ acquisition


I read that your company was acquiring XYZ corp. Do you have a migration plan in place so that both sales organizations can use the same CRM? The reason I ask is that my company has experience helping companies integrate CRM databases so that everyone gets up to speed as quickly as possible. Are you the right person to talk with about this?


5. Elevator pitches versus cold-calling scripts.

Many people think elevator pitches and cold-calling scripts are sales pitches, but they're actually quite different. 

Elevator pitches are a conversational technique that allows you to insert your sales message into a normal social conversation. In the following video, I explain the concept. Note the structure: 1) benefit, 2) differentiator, 3) ask.

Cold-calling scripts are similar but less interactive. Previously I posted a cold-calling script that really works

The biggest mistakes salespeople make during cold calls are: 1) giving a sales pitch rather than using a two-sentence sales message and 2) trying to sell on the spot rather than ask for a future meeting.

6. Crafting your sales message.

Over the years, people have sent me hundreds of sales messages to critique. By far the most common problem is a message that’s all about the product being sold or, worse, the company selling the product. (In other words, not following Step 1 above.)

Here’s a video that will help you craft a more effective message:

7. Additional resources

  • Geoffrey James Insider Newsletter. In this free weekly newsletter, I critique or rewrite a sales message sent from one of my readers in every issue. You’ll also get advance notice when I do online workshops (which fill up pretty quick).
  • How to Say It: Business to Business Selling. I wrote this book a couple of years ago to flesh out the sales message concept into an entire sales and marketing philosophy. Readers tell me this book has helped them hone their sales process.