Using humor in sales emails - a good or bad idea?

October 15, 2020

Some people love to write and receive funny sales emails. Others label them as cheesy and not too professional.

Having sent both kinds of emails, my numbers say that original cold emails that are based on "tasty" humor tend to perform better.

But what does "tasty" mean?

I'll tell you all about it in this article. I'm gonna use humor for sales to create 2 funny sales emails from scratch. Of course, we'll be targeting 2 different types of audiences.

Both are based on concepts that have produced double-digit reply rates for me in the past. They've also contributed to the 20% month-over-month growth when I joined lemlist as Head of Growth in 2019.

Here's if you wanna jump to cold email templates directly:

But, first things first...

Does funny sound professional, mm?

If I had a dollar for the number of conversations I had around this topic, I'd have enough to take my friends out for a few drinks.

There's this notion that it's considered foolish to email a VP of a well-established company or anyone in "more serious" industries and then use jokes.

Having worked in a more formal industry prior to joining lemlist, I understand where they are coming from. Most salespeople think this makes them sound unprofessional and childish.

My stand on this is that everybody likes to laugh. No exception!

The outcome depends on the joke, your audience, and the emotions you provoke. It's like standup comedy!

I'm not advocating to be sending all kinds of memes, all I'm saying is to take a painful situation in your market and tell a funny story about it with lots of empathy.

This is a funny sales email written with taste.

Let me give you an example before we start talking about templates. Here's my state of affairs:

  • Industry: cold email tools
  • Audience: many verticals, including bigger companies
  • Joke tolerance: open to it in most cases

One of the things I started making early on were funny Social Media posts with the objective to make people laugh and redirect them to our blog articles more.

humor in sales

It worked nicely, so I applied the same jokes to my cold email campaigns too.

At that time we were growing 20% month-over-month, and a solid amount of leads was coming thanks to engaging cold emails.

But the rule was... adjust the sales joke to your audience and the problems they are facing. Not only will you show them you get it, but you'll also put a smile on their face.

How to add humor in cold emails?

For this article, just for fun, I've put myself in a position where I'm supposed to send 2 cold email campaigns and bring more clients for lemlist.

Different audiences, but using humor for both... the whole 9 yards and we're going to do it together.

Plus, I've already shown you my templates on our blog, so hopefully you know I'm no bragger without results in this business.

Today is the ideal time to create some new templates...

#1: Using humor to bring startups onboard

Cold emailing startups is fun. The fact that most of them operate in the same environment opens up a ton of ways through which I can connect.

But let's imagine that in my research, I've discovered that they are struggling to convert people from their inbox.

I tend to do these campaigns in batches of 50 prospects per week. This way, I can do the research on the level I'm satisfied with. Plus, by having micro-segments, I can tailor my content around prospects' similarities.

For instance, if all of them are from Australia, my video in the email can be personalized by asking a relevant question in relation to their country. There's no reason to record a video for every prospect, but for each segment instead.

funny sales emails

Why will this cold email work?

I had several variations of this email. Nadja, our head of biz dev, plays this card beautifully as well.

Here are a few reasons why your prospects will reply to the cold email above:

  • Funny image glues their eyeballs onto your email while the relevant personalization makes them wanna click on your link
  • Video will deliver because it shows the strategy, without hiding anything and it's adapted to their industry
  • They can decide to use lemlist to set it up (the easy way) or go with another tool (the difficult way)... their choice, but my odds are looking good as I positioned lemlist as the key ingredient in my video
  • Friendly tone! I'm not selling... directly. I'm talking about my share of struggles and how I turned it around... and selling indirectly

In the backend, lemlist is pulling the text automatically from my CSV file and putting it in the email and onto images. During that time, I'm chilling and waiting for emails to go out. 🛀🏻

#2: Using humor to sign bigger sales teams

Our second target are bigger sales teams, with 10+ team members to onboard onto our platform as a starting point.

The first thing I have to figure out is who's the person with decision-making capabilities. Once that's taken care of, my cold emails can be delivered.

The idea here is to address email deliverability issues I saw my target audience is experiencing.

Now, I might discover that the person I'm about to email is a Formula 1 fan. Already did it in the past by the way... but the campaign wasn't about email deliverability.

Anyhow, the context I'm about to use is going to be immediately recognized by any F1 fan... meaning, it's hyper-targeted to a handful of people or just one person.

funny sales emails

Why will this cold email template work?

When pitching busy people, research matters even more. Identifying their problem and being straightforward about it is the strategy I rely on.

Let's break down the email template:

  • Connecting on common interests! This helps me grab their attention and have them read the rest of my email
  • Personalized image... F1 reference in the intro assists in not having the prospect consider the image insulting. Plus, it fits perfectly to the context of my pitch
  • Email deliverability and lemwarm... I know what their team needs and the proof I'm sending is an easy-to-comprehend solution

How to be a funny sales guy?

Instead of a typical bottom line at the end of the article, let's tackle this question instead.

When these memes were a regular occurrence on our Social Media, this conversation made me put a pin on to this article.

humor in sales

Now I finally got to write it.

To be funny in sales cold emails, I think you need to be familiar with the following points:

  • [Step 1] Understand the industry, your prospect, and what kind of pain are they experiencing. It needs to be on point, far from a broad, meaningless sentence. Then you can use humor to connect based on it
  • [Step 2] Pay attention to what's going on in the world that resonates with your prospect and identify common interests between you two
  • [Step 3] Don't be too serious, but don't go with too many jokes either. Find the perfect balance

And of course, watch a lot of movies, series, standup shows, funny Instagram profiles, etc... to borrow inspiration.

I'm all about movies and TV series, and the best jokes come to my mind when I'm watching them.

Then it's just adapt the scene to your prospect and their pain.

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