How to write a cold-email

Building on my link-baity post on the importance and under appreciation of sales, I thought I would write a few posts on sales techniques that have worked well for me over the years.

Have an intriguing subject line

Amidst cluttered inboxes, it is HARD to get noticed.  So, it’s important to have a standout subject line.  The best way to do this is to write something slightly weird.

  • Use symbols.  “?“ is a good one. New customers?
  • Use uncommon words.  Like “tidbit.” Such as Random tidbit?

Build Rapport in 1 Sentence

Once people open your email, it’s important to keep your message short – I use no more than 3-4 sentences in the email body.

I use the first sentence to build rapport – any of these will work:

  • I’m a big fan of your blog
  • Congrats! – I read about your project in TechCrunch
  • I’m a fellow 500entrepreneur
  • We met at the GeoSocialMobileInnovation VC BBQ last summer

It goes without saying that everything you say in your email should be genuine and honest.  If you hate the person’s blog, don’t say you like their blog.

Help Them in 1-2 Sentences

I use the second and third sentences to cut to the chase on why my reaching out can be beneficial to them.  It helps to tie this to something they care deeply about such as vanity or money.   I also throw in social proof.

  • I think we can help you get new customers through our  technology.  We’ve helped a number of companies do this to date including BigCo, SmallCo, and InnovativeCo.
  • I think we can help you increase your profit margin by x%+ and have been featured in BigFamousNews and GossipyTechBlog for our technology.
  • I think our technology can help you increase your traffic from prominent bloggers through our technology which was built at FamousNationalLabs.

I usually use the words “I think,” because I do think my product can help, but I can’t guarantee it.  Again, sales has a bad rep but it’s important to keep things honest.

Have a strong ask in 1 Sentence

Finally, close your email with a solid ask.  The purpose of this email is to pique interest not to sell.  Do you want to meet with them?  Do you want to talk with them over the phone?  Do you want to get in touch with the right person on their team?

  • Use a who/what/when/where/how/why question
  • Have a specific ask – do you want 20 min of their time?  Do you want an email intro?

For example:

  • What is the best way to talk by phone for 20 min?
  • Who is the best person on your team to speak with for 20 min by phone?

I like to keep my emails short, not only to pique interest but also because they can be easily actionable on a mobile phone.

Practice, practice, practice

I used to be really afraid of cold-emailing.  I would get nervous about how people would respond.  Or that they wouldn’t respond.  But after sending about 500 emails, I don’t think twice about it now.  When you start to send so many, you stop caring so much about each one.

I use ToutApp to streamline the cold-emailing process.  It allows me to write my email message just once and helps me send more cold-emails faster.

Lastly, I think my response-rate over all-time and projects is around 25%.  I’d be happy with anything over 10% though.  But, just know that not everyone will write back, so cold-emailing is a numbers game.  Email 10 people if you want a couple of responses back.

What cold-emailing tips/tricks have worked well for you?

Cover image by Matthew Henry at Unsplash.

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