What Makes A Killer Cold Email? Advice From 7 Expert Sales Pros

Posted on 16 Jul

Cold emails are a pivotal part of revenue generation today. Writing great cold email copy and getting higher response rates is HUGE for hitting quota for a B2B sales pro.

We’re going to share the advice 7 cold email experts gave us to ensure you increase response rates and amaze prospects.

To get you thinking before you dive into the practical cold email tips we’ve got for you, here’s John Barrows’ thoughts on how he uses cold email in his prospecting.

#1 Jeremy Leveille of LeadIQ

Make the messaging as relevant to your prospect as possible. One way I do this is by looking at the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. I look for 1 or 2 specific things in their bio or job description that I can relate back to how my product can help them. Then I will literally copy/paste that part of their profile into my cold email.

If I can’t find anything specific on their profile that I can use, they might not be the right contact – so I’ll use a more specific boolean search on LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find someone else. Or I’ll find a job posting on LinkedIn that the company has for an SDR, sales ops person, SFDC admin, etc. Again, I’ll find something relevant and copy/paste it from the job posting into my cold email, relate that to how my product can help and hit send!

#2 Alex Berman of Experiment 27

This video is gold. Sales pros face constant rejection and the cold shoulder every day. Cold emails, cold calls generally offer good success for Sales pros but there are a lot of ways to improve your response rates and lower the level of rejection. The cold email subject line is a key part of this. If it sucks, your odds of response are tiny. Good cold email subject lines are not click-bait or misleading, but are not boring. It’s a difficult art to master, this video nails it.

#2 Bonus!

As a CEO, I get a few prospecting emails and outreaches quite regularly. I also conduct a lot of outreach myself to new accounts. Being in this position has taught me a few things about what really good outreach looks like – that I try and put into practice. Here’s a few things I have noticed and tried out myself…

 

 

#3 Martin Macarthur of The Sales Developers

Some of the things I have experienced that makes a great cold outbound email you must have a captivating subject line that grabs your prospect’s attention. One that has generated high open rates for me is “Correct Person”. First off, this makes the prospect stop and think. It sparks curiosity. So now you have done your job by forcing them to open the email. It’s not about “We can do X for you”.

Now that you have your prospect’s attention and you have a small win of them opening your email now you need to have a compelling framework for messaging. When I send out an email to a prospect asking if they are the correct person to speak with I will have in the first line “Hey John, I was wondering if you would be the correct person to speak with regarding XYZ” you want this to be the first thing that your prospect reads because now you have them thinking am I the right person or is Sally in Ops better.

Cold email copy

Your body of the email is extremely important because your prospect inbox is flooded with email. So if you don’t have a compelling message then your email will end up deleted. You want to keep your email direct and concise, make sure any links you include can be viewed on a mobile device. Keep your jargon to a minimum. Add a clear CTA don’t make your prospect have to think of what next steps should be.

Context

If you want to ensure that your email is resonating with your prospect and they will actually take the time to review it, you need to start embedding video into your email playbook. That’s because I personally find that at times context can be lost in the written word. Plus, you can start to form a relationship with your prospect via video and provide more information that they can consume on the way to a meeting or in between meetings. This would be instead of having to take the time to read a bunch of information.

Lastly, email is like any other channel you need to be consistent, persistent, personable. And I don’t mean “hey we know XYZ or went to this school” – allow your personality to show and that will resonate with your prospect, and always add value. Don’t spam your prospect because it simply will not work out – and stop sending emails with the subject lines “breaking up” with them.

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#4 Alex Field of LeadSift

There is no one-size fits all answer to what makes a killer cold email. The goal of any copy is to get the person you are looking to engage to keep reading and then take action. Whether its one-line or ten and this will vary based on your audience and solution. A couple of characteristics we have seen from our successful emails are being personable in tone, the less jargon and industry speak the better. Avoid being assumptive, share knowledge of experiences but don’t assume they apply. Avoid trying to find the perfect nugget to personalize, spending more than 5 minutes on research leads to dimensioning returns. In summary, be yourself and don’t overthink it.

#5 Calvin Patterson of Mixpanel

A killer cold email is a balance of reaching out at the right time, personalization, understanding your buyer’s pain and breaking through the noise of their inbox.

Something like a Giphy, a cute animal or a video can be effective ways to stand out in people’s crowded inboxes.

When it comes to personalization it’s important to take into account something that is relevant to why you might be reaching out and not something like their dog’s name that you found by creeping on their social media.  Things that are good for personalization would be snippets directly from their Linkedin, a blog post or podcast they were featured in and recent company news.
Overall I have come to learn that a single piece of outreach is rarely going to catch someone’s eye and that it is about persistence in your outreach for them to see the personalization and research you have done to understand them and what their goals might be that you can help with.  Remember that there is no such thing as a silver bullet and we are all human so something that group A of people may love group B may hate that email.

Utilizing research done by leading sales companies like Salesloft showing the optimal email only has 20% personalization and scheduling emails to go out at optimal times and InsideSales.com showing the best time for opens being 4-6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays
Remember the goal of a cold email is not to have someone completely sold but just that you are looking to grab someone’s attention enough for them to be willing to discuss with you more about their goals and for you to see if there is an opportunity for you to help them achieve those goals.

#6 Pedro Alvarado of Alleyoop

I want to make one thing clear, there is not one practice that works for everyone or every time. But these are 5 things I remember every time I send an email that have worked for me…

1 – Personalization

Duh. The fundament of a strong email. The more content you can work with, the better. Looking at your prospect’s LinkedIn, company website, etc doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes to get good content to work with. Work history, management tactics they might mention, mutual connections, company mission, all fair game. If they mention they like dogs, you’re golden… Ask the right question to who you’re reaching out to. If your questions are templated, they won’t affect your prospect. Everyone cares about different things. Do your best to find what’s important to your prospect and touch on those pain points.

2 – Know your audience

I’ll just say this. Don’t send a meme to 60 year old Susan. It most likely will not work, but hey – stranger things have happened. We work tirelessly for engagement from other people in professional settings. Sometimes, being less formal would work with 27 year old Johnny who lives in a metropolitan city. It won’t work for everyone. Understand who you’re speaking to, and act accordingly.

3 – Video

Vidyard (my personal choice), Wista, Soapbox, whatever you might use. I use it, it’s worked for me. Include a 30-60 second video introducing yourself, your pain that you solve, and why they’d benefit from a discovery call. People appreciate the effort and human component. It catches them off guard. A tip for creating personalized videos is to keep it personal & genuine. If you’re putting on an Oscar winning performance, it probably won’t land. Be you, people like you for you. (Below is something I’ve made that prospects loved and got me a handful of great demos.)

4 – Persistence

You can mention where your prospect’s child went to summer camp and they’ll still ignore your email. Just being personalized isn’t enough. Remember to follow up, and don’t show up empty handed. Always include relevant content that will resonate with that prospect’s mission within the company.

5 – Be human!

Understand that you’re reaching out to other humans. Humans that have bad days. We have good days. We have complex emotions. There won’t be one thing that will work every time. There’s one thing humans do that most other living things don’t do, and that’s taking risks. Shoot your shot. Be creative. Take a risk.

#7 Mike Aragon of demandDrive

One of the cold email tactics that I use (and demandDrive recommends) is taking the initiative to send out calendar invites during the prospecting cadence. I’ve found that it accurately displays my assertiveness (in a non-intrusive manner) and reflects my interest in having a meeting with the prospect. Sending cold invitations catches the prospect’s attention in a way that emails and calls can’t.

This isn’t something I do with every account (and you definitely shouldn’t) – it only makes sense when you know they match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This is a very targeted and specific message, and not something you do with all prospects. I recommended using it after receiving a referral recommendation and not being able to speak with that prospect on the phone.

Roundup

It’s pretty clear that everyone here thinks about personalization before sending any emails. Blanket emails are done almost purely to make up the activity numbers Sales reps. Taking time to show that you’re a person behind the keyboard sending amusing, interesting emails improves your responses dramatically.

It sounds obvious, but it’s not always practiced! If you want to practice sending personalized emails to leads with a bunch of context, get 100 free leads looking at your competitors on us.

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