The 30-second email sales pitch

On By - Sales, Strategy - 3 Comments

Every sales professional with more than a day’s training is at least familiar with the idea of the 30 second pitch, the elevator speech, or whatever you want to call the short introductory message. What separates the best sales professionals from the rest of the pack is what happens in that 30 second pitch.

The least effective sales professionals try to cram their entire company’s life story, product features and benefits, and sales call to action in that 30 seconds. It sounds frantic, desperate, and so confusing that few people, if any, ever buy. Prospects simply nod their heads, offer a polite or direct decline, and dismiss the salesperson without a second thought.

The most effective sales professionals whittle away everything from their pitch except the bare essentials, something so obvious and so plain that everyone who sees or hears it can immediately understand the value with little thought. You never have to work to understand the 30 second pitch from an effective salesperson, and your first reaction is, “Tell me more about that…”

Email is no different. The first email you send to a prospect is your first impression, your 30 second pitch. It might be welcoming a potential new volunteer, a new congregation member, a prospective buyer, a potential new hire – whoever it is, an email is about to make that first impression. What kind of impression will that email make?

Let’s examine what a bad sales pitch in an email might look like. Before we begin, please grab a cup of coffee and drink it quickly, as the following bad pitch is likely to cause you to fall asleep or zone out, and I’d like you back as quickly as possible.

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This is actual copy from old stuff we used to send out at WhatCounts. Fairly hideous, isn’t it? Somewhere in there might be something that a prospect values, but the chances of them extracting that value before a coma sets in is fairly low.

Let’s examine now a better pitch. Hopefully, you won’t need coffee for this one.

Imagine there is a black box that sits on your desk with a slot in the top that accepts $1 bills and a small tray in front. Every time you put $1 in that box, $41 comes out the tray.

How often would you put $1 bills in that box?

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What are the elements that make this a better email pitch?

It’s concise. It’s clear. There’s no jargon at all. The benefit is obvious, the emotion being appealed to is blatant, and instead of spewing facts at a prospect, the pitch starts off by asking them to imagine something, to mentally engage instead of disengage. The pitch tells a very short story with you, the reader, as the subject of the story, and ends with a firm call to action.

Most of all, the pitch doesn’t try to get you to buy immediately. Instead of pressuring for the sale, the pitch aims to raise questions in your mind as starting points for a future discussion. If you delivered a pitch like this in person, there’s a good chance your prospect would ask if you could grab a cup of coffee or lunch and tell them more about this magic money box. Make that the goal of your 30 second pitch – not “buy buy buy” but “tell me more”.

Take your existing 30 second pitch and write it down. Look for similar elements in your own pitch, refine it, and then use it in your first prospect email campaigns, auto-responses, and outreach communications. See if the results you get are dramatically better than an information dump that causes prospects to glaze over after the first giant run-on sentence.

Christopher S. Penn

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3 Responses to "The 30-second email sales pitch"
  1. Michael Crider says:

    Christopher, you are a smart man. You are right, emotion and narrative are the way to go. I love this and am stealing it.

  2. Chrissiemarshall says:


  3. Kayley says:

    Interesting. How did the response rates vary between the two?

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