Value Proposition – How to Tell Your Addressee Why You Reached Out to Them? (Updated)

illustration of cold email bringing value


The value proposition is probably the most difficult part to craft well in an email. Why? ‘Cause if it sounds even a bit salesy – the prospect may get scared off. Too blurry – the addressee may not get what we want from them and become disinterested. Too personal – it may just seem creepy. So how should it sound so the recipient gets actually intrigued and wants to reply?

What is the value proposition all about?

That’s the part of an outbound email where we’re telling the addressee the reason why we reach out to them. Even though the roots of a value proposition are in sales emails, it applies to any situation when the addressee doesn’t know us.

Value proposition is a very tricky part of such an email because we need to write a little about ourselves and our offer and at the same time keep our focus on the addressee. In other words, we should write about ourselves while still writing about them.

So here’s a question for you: Can you confirm that the value proposition of your email is NOT totally focused on you? Because if it is, it surely has some value to you, but not necessarily to your addressees.

How to make our value proposition actually valuable to the addressee?

No matter whether your outbound email’s goal is to generate leads, build links or expand your PR outreach, the value proposition of your emails should be of importance to the addressee.

The mistake I often see in outbound emails is that they are focused too much on either the product or on the sender and their company (for more on that topic, go to the post about cold email introductions).

As Heather Morgan rightly points out in many of her articles on outbound emails at Salesfolk’s blog, we should forget about presenting a longish list of our product’s features and telling the prospect how awesome our company is.

The most important thing to remember on this part is to avoid the “me, me, me” tone in our outbound email. The truth is, the very short story we build in our message is not about us, or our product for that matter. It is about our addressee and their company. They play the main part and they need to feel that. We and our product are just a background character.

Additionally, for the sales email, the story is not about how our totally awesome solution will solve all their problems – well, at least it shouldn’t be like that because if it is, it sounds salesy as hell. It should be about some specific problems they may have and about how they can solve these problems with our help.

The difference is very subtle, and the line between helping and selling is very thin. The key to effective sales email is to make sure we never cross that line.

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What a value proposition should sound like?

As we already established, it is not self-centered and not salesy. It should not include a long list of features or services packed with adjectives and adverbs.

So what is it like? What should it include?

1. The reason why we reached out to them exactly, and not someone else. That makes them feel the proposition is directed to them specifically, i.e. it feels more personal and more valuable. This should be nicely connected with your introduction, too.

2. The clear answer to the question: What can we do for them? Or, what is it exactly that we are proposing in this message?

3. The benefit of starting a business relationship or cooperating with us. In other words, what’s in it for them. What exactly they and their company can gain from our proposition. Remember, it’s all about them, not you.

4. The example of how other people and/or companies benefited from cooperation with us. If you’ve got some impressive numbers, you can mention them here. Check the post by Heather Morgan to see how to do it right.

5. The light, honest and polite tone devoid of fake praise and empty phrases. The language of a person looking for a start to talk, not a salesperson who is trying to close a deal. See the post by Robert Graham for a good example.

These are the best practices worth following. Now let’s analyze a few examples of good value propositions you can base on while writing your own emails.

  • Cold email campaign goal: lead generation

“We know that a team like yours has great skills but often is limited by time and resources to step up their outbound lead generation. Our tool can help you automate the sending process, so your team members can focus on what they do best – deal closing.”

This value proposition is very prospect-centered. It starts with presenting a challenge that many similar teams face in their daily work and presents your product as a solution. The value for prospects, in this case, is the improvement of their workflow efficiency.

  • Cold email campaign goal: link building

“As I browsed through your blog I noticed that it targets the same kind of audience as mine. I thought that my latest blog post could be worth a read for your readers as it tackles {{Snippet_1}} from a slightly different perspective. It could make a great completion of your article and give the readers a full picture of {{Snippet_2}}.”

Do you see how accurately this value proposition points to the benefits of this kind of cooperation? Content creators care about the reader’s experience above all. The opportunity to enhance it is your secret weapon here. Make it the core of your value proposition.

  • Cold email campaign goal: get press mentions

“Our team is about to release the first tool to {{Snippet_1}} that will change the way small sales teams have been prospecting so far. I believe this piece of news is something your audience is craving to read more about.”

For a journalist, a blogger or an influencer the biggest value lies in the content that hooks their audience. Prove to them that what you’d like them to publish matches their readers’ or followers’ taste and is worth sharing.

  • Cold email campaign goal: build new partnerships

“Have you thought about extending your app’s functionality by integrating it with a CRM tool? Currently, your customers need to manually import the contact data of their leads and customers to your tool. It would be much more convenient for them if they could do it with just one click.”

Think about how your potential partner’s business goals can match with yours and make it your value proposition. In the example above, seamless user experience is a top priority for an app owner. It’s their goal to improve it. Therefore, the integration of their software with other tools that their customers also use at work would be of great value for them.

What’s in it for you?

Except for the points a) to e) above, it’s crucial to remember two great rules about the value proposition in outbound emails:

  • It’s not about you, it’s about your addressee.
  • Do not try to sell here.

I guess the first test to carry out as soon as you have your first draft ready is to read it to yourself out loud and check if it doesn’t sound salesy or too self-centered. If there’s even a shadow of a doubt – rewrite it.

Another thing is to make sure the value proposition is smoothly linked with the introduction. You cannot refer to a blog post on weight loss in your intro and offer accounting services if you see what I mean.

All parts of your email have to click with one another. The intro links naturally with the value proposition, and the latter is followed by a clear and appropriate CTA.

That’s very important – otherwise, the message sounds unnatural, confusing and irrelevant. And to make them reply, it has to be the exact opposite, i.e.: natural, clear and relevant.

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