by Lauren Davis, Demand Generation & Marketing Operations Consultant

How to Personalize Sales Emails at Scale

Do you automate sales outreach at any point throughout the customer journey? Whether it’s following up after a contact request, reaching out during your trial period, or part of your sales nurture journey, sales emails are a critical part to the buying process.

Automating these emails can save your team time and standardize messaging across the board, but it’s important to maintain the personal feel in order to keep engagement high. So how do you automate these while also keeping them highly personalized for each rep?

If you only have a few sales reps, it’s easy: Simply create a unique email for each salesperson. But as you bring on new reps, adding them to your automated journeys increases complexity.

To give you an idea, here’s a peek at what the journey looked like when we had four sales reps:

old free trial journey in post

Every time a new sales rep started, we went through the process of creating a unique email for each step in our free trial journey (a total of 11 shapes). Each email consisted of the rep’s name, photo, signature and Calendly link. Soon our sales team grew to eight reps, and this process quickly became time consuming. The journey also became difficult to manage and impossible to A/B test. We needed a better way to scale.

Now, we’re using personalization variables for all rep-specific information, from the Calendly link to the rep’s signature (complete with their photo). When a rep starts, we simply need to populate two fields via an operational journey. It takes a grand total of five minutes, and there’s no need to touch our trial journey!

The operations behind it

The operational journey is comprised of a number of triggers for each rep, with each section looking like the below.


First, we created custom fields for each variable we wanted to personalize: a rep’s Calendly link and their signature (complete with their phone number and photo). Then we created unique smart segments for each rep. The criteria here is simple: “Lead Owner is _____.”

Populating the Calendly link is easy. For the Signature field, we create the rep’s signature in the email editor and copy and paste the HTML as the field value, like so:

Lead owner field

Whenever a lead is assigned to one of these reps, they’ll run through this operational journey and the fields will update appropriately.

For the emails themselves, we simply switched out to unique, hard coded values to the personalization variables, complete with a default (James, our original sales guy and team lead), just in case.

The emails in Autopilot look like so:

Email in Autopilot

Pro Tip: If you want to use URLs in personalization variables, be sure to include the variable within the hyperlink ( vs. NAME) to ensure you’re tracking email clicks.

The best part is the lead receiving the email knows no difference—they simply experience a personalized journey from a sales rep!

Clay email

A more efficient journey

With the help of the operational journey, we’ve been able to minimize the number of shapes on the canvas by 59 (!), set up A/B tests, and get new reps set up with automated emails faster.

new trial journey low res

Now we’re focused on testing each and every email to make this journey super efficient.

To implement this in your automation, the key components are:

1. Custom fields for each personalization variable
2. An operational journey to populate the values for each sales rep
3. Emails with the personalization variables added

As always, don’t forget to test the emails to make sure everything renders as expected.

Have any follow up questions about setting this up for your company? Let us know in the comments.

Author Lauren Davis, Demand Generation & Marketing Operations Consultant

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    • Nice way to personalize sales emails. I just have one question.

      When you send this kind of email from an Automation/Email Marketing tool, usually it ends up on tabs like “Promotion” or “Updates” if the user has a Gmail/Apps account.

      There are some tools that focus on sales automation that you can connect your own email account and the emails are sent from the sales person own inbox.

      Do you think there’s a difference in performance comparing emails from an automation/email marketing tool from those sent with a sales automation tool that lets you connect your own email account?

    • This is awesome!

      One thing that I’ve never seen anyone doing is integrating within a journey (or campaign, depending on how the tool you are using will call the automations) tools like Woodpecker/Reply/Mailshake that send emails through the users own mailbox.

      For 1:1 messages this is powerful because it always be a priority (for Gmail/G Apps mean that the email will hit the Inbox tab and for all email clients the email won’t go to the spam folder).


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