How to write a sales generating email that stops customers in their tracks


Not too long ago, I wrote a sales email for a client that stopped a customer in their tracks… 

It got them to reply saying, “You won me over because of that email.”

That email drove thousands of dollars in sales for my client, a residential and commercial pressure-washing business. 

But here’s the deal, the structure used in that email works for pretty much any business.

Today I’m going to break down the building blocks of the email, how it was crafted, and why it works so you can create your own customer-stopping, sales-generating email.

Here are the building blocks…Let’s go!

The 7 building blocks of a sales-generating email

1. The paint-a-picture problem opener

Back when I worked at Nike, we had a saying, “start with the problem.” That’s because smart marketers at Nike knew a thing or two about human psychology and the Negativity Bias.  

The negativity bias states our tendency is to react stronger to negative stimuli than we do to positive stimuli because our brains are hardwired to keep us safe from things that may harm us.

So if you want to grab your customers’ attention, start with the problem.

For this email, we opened with the problem they were dealing with: algae taking over the exterior of their home.

To make it unforgettable, we painted a picture of the problem by naming a villain that was the root cause of the customer’s problems: the algae monster. 

Silly, I know, but guess what, it’s memorable.

2. The pain amplifier

Next, we doubled down on the problem and villain making it unignorable by amplifying the pain it caused the customer. 

One of the greatest obstacles we have to get customers to buy is overcoming the status quo bias – our preference to keep things as is, even if there’s a better solution.

People only make a change and solve the problem they’re dealing with once they can no longer ignore the pain caused by the problem.  

So in this next building block, we amplified the pain by helping them visualize how the problem appeared and then listed 3 negative effects caused by the villain.

3. The service as the solution

People don’t buy products, they buy solutions to the problems they’re dealing with.

By opening with a problem and amplifying the pain, it allowed us to introduce their service as the solution.  If you leave out the context and problem setup, you’ll sell less.

So with carefully crafted problem and pain blocks, we positioned the client’s services as the villain-slaying solution to all that ailed them: an exterior pressure washing for their home.

4. Proof

Most buyers are skeptics.  Especially with the neverending onslaught of ads we all experience today, our B.S. meters are off the charts.

So to overcome people’s hesitancy after introducing the service, we immediately showcased a great testimonial highlighting a customer’s transformation to prove one, this wasn’t the company’s first rodeo and two, what they sold wasn’t a heaping pile of (you know what).

5. How it works

Two things that kill sales:

  1. Confusion in the sales process: If customers are unclear about what they need to do to buy, they won’t.
  2. A buying journey that doesn’t look stupidly easy: If buying from you doesn’t look ridiculously easy (even if it really is) people won’t buy.

To overcome these, we laid out the 3 steps they needed to take to buy the services:

  1. Review the quote
  2. Select a package
  3. Schedule a service

These are totally obvious steps, but being obvious makes buying seem easy and makes this company seem easy to work with. A non-obvious purchase process leads to confused customers and lost customers.

6. The positive picture

Most businesses assume customers know what outcomes they can expect to get after buying.  That assumption is a mistake.  

Don’t assume customers know what they’ll get.  Tell them.  

To increase the odds customers buy, get them to visualize what life looks like after they buy.  This is what we call thinking past the sale.  

To do this, we listed out 6 bullet points of the amazing outcomes the customers will get after booking their cleaning service.

7. The call to action

Last but not least, we finished the email by clearly asking for the sale with a simple yet direct “schedule your service.”

As my Dad used to say, “Don’t ask, don’t get.”  

If you don’t ask customers to buy, they won’t buy.  So ask them to buy!

Why this sales email worked

1. We named a villain

We didn’t just open with a problem, we opened with a villain that was the cause of their customer’s problems. Villains are visual and that’s memorable.

2. We had fun with it

Coming up with a villain was fun.  And in a world where competitors all sound the same and do the same thing, a tiny bit of humor was different. Sometimes, being different beats being better.

3. We followed up

This was the last email sent in a series of emails, each driving home a specific point.  The money is in the follow-up.  

4. We used scarcity

To get customers to take action, we offered a limited-time incentive only good for 5 days. It’s easy to put things you “should do” off. And things that get put off, don’t get done. 

This free, limited-time offer made customers act now.

Want to see the email?  

Check it out here and follow the building blocks to create your own customer-stopping, sales-driving email. I’ve even color-coded each of the 7 building blocks for you.

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