Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.

Since my company, SalesFolk, is in the business of sales emails, we spend a lot of time sharing tips for writing the best possible messages. 

Those tips, of course, pile up over the course of a year, and while they're all valid, it's useful to sometimes pause for a moment and return to the basics. By that I mean the elements anyone can use to write the kind of message potential customers will appreciate and respond to. That means letting a recipient know they're valuable, learning how to make your messages action-oriented, and, of course, good copywriting skills.

With that in mind, I put together this sales email primer with some of my favorite sales email tips from last year. I hope they help you in the coming 12 months, and if you have any of your own, I'd love to read about them in the comments below.

1. Make every follow-up email unique.

You've heard it said that salespeople have to be relentless in their follow-ups, especially when it comes to sales emails. But sending the same message seven or eight times isn't going to entice a prospective customer any more than the original message did. A follow-up email is not an add-on step; each message must be unique, thoughtful, and packed with details the other person will relate to on an individual level.

2. Know the difference between sales and marketing.

Sales emails are not marketing emails. Cold sales emails are sent without any prior connection or context with the recipient, in the hopes of starting a conversation. Marketing emails, on the other hand, are meant to build awareness and educate a much wider audience about a topic, product, or service. If you want your sales emails to have even the slightest chance of working, you need to understand the difference between sales and marketing messages and apply that knowledge to all sales communications. 

3. Take a cue from WWII. 

Vague or self-centered copy are two of the fastest ways to ruin a sales email. Messages you send to potential customers have to be as specific as possible from start to finish, and those specifics need to be about the recipient, not you. Think of the old WWII-era posters with brightly colored slogans like, "I want YOU for the US Army!" Go for a similar feel in your sales emails-;quick, lively, and clearly showing the other person they're valuable.

4. Forget what you learned in business school.

Business school might have taught you to use a formal writing voice in everything you produce: "I would be delighted to discuss this opportunity further." But that's not not how we speak in everyday life, which means it's not the kind of language that entices a potential customer. If the goal of a sales email is to engage people and convince them a human is on the other side of the correspondence, writing the way Niles Crane from Frasier talks works against you every time. Instead, rely on some simple copywriting tips to keep your emails active, conversational, and simple.

5. Get rid of lackluster subject lines.

If the subject line of your sales email is lame, no one's going to bother with the rest of the email. Want to avoid that and stand out from every other salesperson in the process? Just learn some of the most common mistakes people make with subject lines and commit to avoiding them in the future. Whether they're super long, robotic in tone, or flat-out deceptive, get rid of these types of poor subject lines. Then, study up on how to write convincing ones in the future.

6. Get rid of politeness.

You wouldn't walk up to someone at a conference and say, "I hope this conference finds you well." And since your sales emails are supposed to mimic real-life conversations, you wouldn't open a message with "I hope this message finds you well." Being overly polite in a sales email signals to the recipient that you're trying to sell something. What's more, empty lines of pleasantry take up valuable real estate. You only get a few lines of text to make an impression on your potential customers. Make sure the words you choose actually add value to the other person's day.