10 sales email subject lines to get an open, read and reply

Many ad sales trainers talk about the “good ole days” before email. When the phone was your weapon of choice. Many even suggest that email has ruined the media sales process. I could NOT disagree more. In my ad sales training workshops I teach that email is an amazing piece of technology. If used in the right way it can truly help the media sales professional win and grow business.  

Before we get into the best sales email subject lines for success, please allow
me to offer three pieces of email sales advice.  

  1. Email does not replace the phone. The phone is an amazing tool when trying to build a relationship with a prospect from a distance.  
  2. All too often you ignore the phone and only focus on email. Media sales superstars know how to balance phone, email and face time to maximise the total sales process.  
  3. Email lacks tone and emotion. Of course you can YELL and ;-), but, your voice is a powerful sales tool. During my ad sales training workshops I teach a pattern of voice mail and email prospecting that gets results!
  4. Do not give up on the phone when these sales email subject lines get you results.  

Here are my top 10 sales email subject lines that have been getting me results in the last 30 days or less. I will also provided email examples and advice on each as

1. Subject line: (Name of a mutual connection) recommended I get in touch

Body of email: “Hi Donnie. Ryan Dohrn recommends that you and I touch base about _______. He and I mutually felt that this idea could benefit you. Could I have 20 minutes via phone to discuss this week? I promise just 20 minutes. I take pride in not wasting peoples time.”

Advice: There is clearly no better way to connect with a new ad sales prospect than through a referral. Agree? Also, notice that I assure the prospect that I will not waste their time. Many media sales people before you have wasted a prospects time. You want to take pride in not being one of those “vampires of time”.

2. Subject line: I was just wondering…

Body of email: “Hi Rachel. I was wondering if you would be open to a 20 minute phone call about (insert sales topic here)? I promise to respect your time. 20 minutes is all that I need.”

Advice: This ad sales subject line is often used as a follow-up or can also be used as a way to offer a meeting invitation. 

3. Subject line: May 29th?

Body of email: “Hi Ron. I will be in Clinton, IA on May 29th for a meeting. Could I get on your calendar for 20 minutes in the morning? I promise just 20 minutes. I take pride in not wasting peoples time.”  

Advice: I often use this subject line to request a meeting date or to offer a follow-up date for a meeting.

4. Subject line: 3 reasons…

Body of email: “Hi John. I truly feel there are three reasons why we should work together:

  1. Your mission. I understand your company and appreciate your mission.
  2. Your support needs. I have a quality reputation for offering best in class customer service.
  3. Your budget. We are the only company offering your payment options.”  

Advice: This subject line is most often used after you have tried several times to connect with a prospect via email. The idea is to list three reasons why the prospect should reengage with you via email.

5. Subject line: Did something happen?

Body of email: “Hi Terry, Was there something that happened after our meeting that I can help you resolve? You sounded very positive about setting up a follow-up call. I am not a high-pressure type of guy. I truly want to help you with ________. ”

Advice: After a proposal or a meeting this subject line will often play with a prospects emotions and get you a response.  

6. Subject line: New idea for you

Body of email: “Hi Bob, I would love to share with you a new budget friendly idea that is really working for other companies like yours. 20 minutes is all that I need. I promise just 20 minutes. I take pride in not wasting peoples time.”     

Advice: I like to use this subject line right out of the gate when trying to set a meeting with a new prospect. Of course you need a new idea to share. Or, you can share a thought that will give your prospect a slight competitive advantage.

7.  Subject line: (Name of a competitor) is marketing very well? Or, just the company name of a prospects competition.

Body of email: “I see that John Doe is really marketing a lot these days.  I have an idea to really give them a run for their money.” 

Or, “Hi Rex, I see that John Doe just launched the new ABC Model. I have a unique idea to share with you that could give them a run for their money.” Or, “Hi John, your competitor John Doe just bought into our system. I truly feel you need to take a look at this as well.”

Advice: This ad sales subject line will ruffle a few feathers. So, be careful. I never EVER share client information with other clients. I am simply using this subject line to prompt a reply based on friendly competition. Again, you want to be ethical with what you share using this approach.

8. Subject line: Wrong person?

Body of email: “Hi Michael, I hate to be that sales guy that keeps emailing the wrong person. Any chance you could point me in the right direction of the person that handles _________ ?”  

Advice: Often used as a last ditch effort, this subject line allows the client to provide you information that you can use to move them off your prospect list. Be real and often you will get a reply. This truly only works if the ad sales prospecting pattern you use is aggressive. If you only email once a month, forget about it.

9. Subject line: 20 Minutes?

Body of email: “Hi Nicole. I saw on your web site that you just launched the A350 Model. I have an idea to help you promote that to our client list of 36,0000. 20 minutes is all I need to share with you an idea. I promise to not waste your time and keep you on the phone for 45 minutes. I pride myself in not being that type of sales person.” 

Or, “Hi Nicole. I saw on your web site that you just won the contract for Jayco. Congrats. I have an idea to help you with the staffing issues related to that contract. 20 minutes is all I need to share with you an idea. I promise to not waste your time and keep you on the phone for 45 minutes.”    

Advice: This subject line can be tricky if you do not also include a promise. You will need to tweak the above based on what problem you hope to solve. Or, what your idea can do to save the client time, money or effort.    

10. Subject line: I will respect your answer

Body of email: “I would very much enjoy working together, but if you have decided to not move forward I will be very respectful of your decision. Any update on your project decision status is appreciated.”

Advice: Not used enough. It is often taboo to allow a client to say no. To encourage them to say no is also taboo. But, what I have found is that when the client feels like they can tell you no they will at least reply.

Sales email subject lines: final thoughts

There are certain ad sales training programs that teach you “sales tricks”. Those zinger lines of narrative that force a client to a “yes decision”. In the day and time when there were not many options for products and services those “sales tricks” worked well.  

Today, most buyers will not tolerate the high-pressure media sales tactics of the past. I find that my systematic approach to sales relies on three things… working the right client on the right pattern with the right message. Relevance is

Ryan Dohrn is the creator of the 360 Ad Sales training system and an internationally recognised media revenue consultant. Dohrn runs a popular You Tube channel and podcast.

Image credit:

Written by Ryan Dohrn, Founder, Brain Swell Media

Ryan Dohrn is the creator of the 360 Ad Sales Training system and is an internationally recognised media revenue consultant. Ryan actively sells print, digital, broadcast, event sponsorships, exhibit space and radio. He has trained and coached over 15,000 ad sales reps to date and speaks over 60 times per year. Ryan loves teaching ad sales reps his simple and effective way to achieve ad sales success. Ryan has media clients in Australia, Spain, UK, Holland and the USA.


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