Improve Your Email Prospecting with the HERO Framework

8 Apr 24

Email is a critical part of any sales prospecting strategy. Use the HERO framework to create more personalized prospecting emails that bring sales results.

Prospecting has evolved as automation has made creating, sending, and tracking multi-email sequences to prospects easy. Unfortunately, while sales enablement technology has dramatically increased the volume  of prospecting emails you can send, it hasn't improved their effectiveness. Here is how you can increase your email prospecting odds using the HERO framework.

HERO Framework for Email Marketing Prospecting

By mastering these email prospecting best practices, you can leverage the power of email to build meaningful relationships and drive great  results for your sales pipeline.

1. Hook

According to Mailchimp, the average open rate of marketing emails is 21.33%. This means that your first challenge is to “hook” your prospect with a snappy subject line to get your emails opened. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Personalize it: According to research by SupplyGem, emails with personalized subject lines are opened 50% more than emails with generic subject lines.
  • Make it relevant: A compelling subject line is relevant to the prospect’s role, challenges, and goals. For example, “Improve shipping efficiency” may resonate with an operations manager but not a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).
  • Keep it short: Research shows that 6-10 words are the ideal subject line length.
  • Build curiosity: A good subject line builds curiosity but doesn’t give too much detail. You could pique a CRO’s curiosity with a “Question about your sales goal,” while for the Operations Manager, you could ask a compelling question, “How do you manage shipping errors?”
  • Be unique: Avoid anything that sounds like a marketing robot wrote, e.g., “Marketing opportunity,” “Increase your profitability,” or “Got 15 minutes for a meeting?” These generic subject lines won’t differentiate your sales prospecting email from the crowd.

2. Engage

Once the prospect has opened your email, your next goal is to engage them with a relevant pain point. This gives your prospect a reason to keep reading your email.

Start by asking who you are selling to and what problem you are solving. The relevant pain point will be evident for most prospects, and in other cases, you will want to do some level of research, e.g., “I saw that you opened a new facility in [LOCATION]. How are higher shipping costs impacting your profitability?”

3. Relate

Now that you have the prospect’s attention, it is time to relate how your solution can help address the problem. The idea here is to highlight the value of your solution, not the features – don’t sell, keep things high level. This is where you pique the prospect’s interest and give them a reason to meet with you.

Alternatively, you can share an insight, case study, or content. Here are some examples:

  • “I thought you might be interested in learning how we helped [similar company] lower their shipping costs.”
  • “I thought you might be interested in this blog on “Five Keys to Automating Your Shipping Function.”
  • “Our customers are successfully automating their shipping function. Here are a few insights.”

When you share something of value with the prospect, you create a sense of obligation on the part of the prospect to reciprocate – i.e., the reciprocity principle.

4. Offer

The final step is to get the sales prospect to respond to your email. You do this by offering the prospect a clear call to action.

The most common sales prospecting CTA is to ask for the meeting, “Do you have 15 minutes to meet?” While this may be appropriate for a prospecting call, asking for time is a mistake in the context of a cold email.

According to research by Gong, confirming the prospect's interest before asking to set the meeting is two times more effective. This makes intuitive sense since asking for time in your first email gives the prospect an easy out – “I am too busy.”

Confirming interest instead is a lower-risk CTA, such as “Does it make sense to discuss how you can improve [XYZ]?” or “Would achieving [XYZ] help you reach your zero emissions initiative?” Once the prospect confirms their interest, you can ask for the meeting in a later email or phone call.


Email is a core element of any salesperson's prospecting strategy. However, while technology has made it easy to increase your volume of emails, it hasn’t improved the quality. For more effective prospecting emails, use the HERO framework to create more personalized prospecting emails that produce results.


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