You might remember the days when receiving an email was a novel experience that left you a little giddy. Or maybe email has been a common part of life for as long as you can remember. Either way, it’s not likely that you’re getting excited by another inbox notification in 2019.
These days, roughly 2.6 billion emails are sent each day – and it can feel like each one of those ends up in your personal mailbox. Since you’re familiar with how exhausting this endless stream of messages can be, as a sales professional, you know how important – yet difficult – it is to cut through the noise when sending cold emails.
A cold email is a message sent to someone with whom you have never before held a conversation. You’re likely also asking them for something. This can be an intimidating situation, but is a valid tactic for recruiting new sales prospects. The key is to remember that you won’t be closing a sale with a single email. This is merely your chance to get the conversation started, and to commence building a relationship.
Consider your sender information
The number one goal of a cold email is simply to get it read. So step one is ensuring it gets opened, rather than flagged as spam and deleted. Since the information about the sender (that’s you!) is the first thing the recipient sees, make sure you’re presenting yourself properly.
Think of introducing yourself to someone at a networking event – you smile, shake hands, and tell the other person your name. Your sender information is that, but in digital form (minus the smile and handshake – no emojis in your sender info, please!).
The exact information you choose to include can vary from message to message, but will always be some combination of your name and job title. Here are a couple of examples:
Dale Carnegie, Public Speaking Expert
Dale, Self-Help Guru
Instructions for editing this information in Outlook, and in Gmail.
Crafting your subject line
At this point, you’re still trying to convince the recipient to open and read your email. Your sender information was great, so the next opportunity for success is with the subject line.
The goal here is to write something intriguing, that relates to the body of your message, and sounds like it was written by a human.
Let’s once again compare a cold email to a networking event: After you’ve introduced yourself to a new person, would you jump right into a conversation about the weather? Hopefully not! This dull introduction to discussion is likely to have the other party looking for an out sooner rather than later. In the case of a cold email, a subject line that offers “A Unique Business Opportunity!” or “The Solution to All Your SEO Woes!” is akin to opening a conversation with smalltalk about the weather. The only difference being that with emails, it is far easier to pass over the message without seeming rude.
Maintaining interest with your opening remark
Half of the battle with cold emails is getting them opened – so if you’ve made it this far, you’re doing great! Now you want to maintain that success and keep the reader engaged until the end of your short message.
The best way to do that is to start by talking about the reader. While this might go against your first instinct, which tells you to talk up yourself and your product or service, Dale Carnegie had it right when he said, “If you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, keep this in mind: Become genuinely interested in other people.”
You only have a few seconds to catch your reader’s attention, and they’re far more interested in themselves than they are in you. Plus, this proves that you’ve done your research!
Make sure to keep it professional and not stalkerish, though. Sharing a fact about the person or business you found interesting? Great! Complimenting the school their kids go to? Not so great.
Sharing your value proposition
This isn’t the point where you type out your elevator pitch and hit send. Remember how you’re not planning to close a sale off of this one email? The goal is to keep the reader reading, and as soon as the language gets too salesy, he or she is likely to back out.
All you want to do here is convince them to follow through on the upcoming call to action. To engage enough interest to keep this conversation going, identify a problem that is unique to the reader and his or her business, and briefly explain how you can solve it. Don’t get bogged down in describing features, and definitely don’t mention price. Focus solely on the benefits to the prospect.
Make a call to action
And now, finally, you’re at the point of this whole email – the call to action. When you can get the reader to follow up with you in some way, you’ve succeeded. So don’t scare him off now! It might seem easy to ask for thirty minutes of someone’s time, but we’re all busy these days, and most of us have better ways to spend half an hour than on the phone with a stranger.
Instead, end your message by asking a question, as per Dale Carnegie’s recommendations: “Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their business and problems than you do. So ask them questions. Let them tell you a few things.”
Keep the question broad and open-ended – something that requires as much or as little response as the reader feels like giving. Something like:
“What’s holding you back from implementing changes that would improve your business?”
Sign off with style
You’re nearly finished writing the perfect cold email! Keep that confidence going right to the end by ensuring your signature is in line with the friendly and informative tone you’ve set this far.
Make sure to include information and links that make it easy for the reader to look you up and get in contact – but don’t go overboard. Your phone number, email address, and website should suffice, but depending on your field, you may also wish to include a link to your Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook account. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re linking to social profiles that are never updated, it can hurt your image. The safer bet is to omit these if you’re unsure.
While you can never expect a one hundred percent success rate with cold emails, following the formula outlined above will increase your chances of receiving a response. Feel free to experiment with the formula and try new things, keeping in mind that with these messages, your aim is to cultivate a relationship.