One of the realities of prospecting is the daunting task of composing cold emails. You have an intimidatingly blank canvass with which to convince your lead that you’re worth talking to. What’s more, this is someone you’ve never spoken with before, who you know little to nothing about. Where do you start crafting an email that will get their attention (in a good way!) and convince them to spend their precious time chatting with you?
After gobs of preliminary research and thousands of sent emails, here are our quick and dirty tips to writing a cold email that has the best chance of piquing your prospect’s interest:
The Subject Line = Your First Impression
You might have written history’s best prospecting email, but if your lead doesn’t ever click on ‘open’, it’s all for naught. Up there with day and time of sending, your subject line is one of the most important factors in determining whether your email gets opened or sits in the purgatory of overlooked correspondence. DigitalMarketer outlines some effective guiding principles for this one-liner, like playing on the recipient’s curiosity, self-interest and even their humanity. At IKO, we’ve found that communicating about the value we hope to achieve for the prospect gave us our highest open rates.
“Communicating about the value we hope to achieve for the prospect gave us our highest open rates.”
What Should Your Tone Be – Black Tie or Business Casual?
I’ve always found this part particularly tricky. Going into a job interview, sales call or networking event, you know more or less what kind of tone is appropriate in each setting. But in a cold email, where you’ve never exchanged a word with your prospect, this can be hard to gauge. Go too formal, and you’ll come off as stuffy or pretentious. But too casual, and you risk offending, or even losing your credibility in the eyes of your prospect. Hubspot had a response to this dilemma that I found quite useful – simply check out their LinkedIn profile. What kind of language do they use to describe their own professional experiences? Is there lots of technical jargon and impeccable punctuation, or informal lingo and down-to-earth job descriptions? This could give you a window into their frame of mind and way of communicating in a business setting.
Your Prospect is Interested in Value
At the end of the day, a prospect will take the next step with a sales rep if they feel there is value to be had on their end. Communicating the idea of ‘value’ – and not just a great offer, low price or excellent customer service – is probably the most challenging part of any sales professional’s job. If possible, try and put yourself in their shoes when crafting your email: how will your solution help them in the bigger picture? What impact could be seen for the entire business and for different departments? Try not to focus too much on product details – this is often a trap! – and adjust your value proposition to the persona you’re addressing.
Call-to-Action – One and Only One!
When writing your email, you need to keep your overall goal in mind: getting your lead to talk with you. The last thing you want to do is muddy the waters by adding more than one call-to-action (CTA) to your email. This means, if you’re sharing free content with your prospect to showcase your thought-leadership, great! But asking them to download your pdf is your one and only CTA for this email. Asking for a sales call will have to wait for the next touch point, unless of course you’re lucky enough that they volunteer this idea all on their own. If your email is a Where’s Waldo of CTAs – ‘check out this blog article,’ ‘let me know when you’re free,’ ‘give me a call’ and ‘like our Facebook page’ – chances are your prospect will get lost and just tune you out.
…And if They (Seem) to not Want to Talk?
After going through all this, you’re sure to get a good open and response rate and a calendar full of conversations. However, no prospector is lucky enough to get interested leads every time – sometimes you’re going to be faced with seeming disinterest. However, you know that tenacity and ingenuity are prized qualities in a sales rep. Here are a few ways to breathe life into a seemingly negative cold email answer:
The “We’ve already got something in place” Answer
So they think they’ve got all that they need – and maybe they do! But your point of view should be that you can’t be sure until you have a qualification call. It can’t hurt to respond with something like, “Glad to hear it! Just out of curiosity, what have you already got set up? We often work in complement with X and Y solutions…”
The “We don’t need this kind of solution” Answer
Again, without a qualification call, it’s hard to tell. Probing more to see why your prospect doesn’t think they need your product could lead to room for conversation. Maybe they haven’t accurately understood your offer, or they’re underestimating the value you could bring. Either way, asking, “Just out of curiosity, what makes you think you don’t need our solution?” is a good move. At the very least, you could use any answer as valuable market research.
The “Not right now” Answer
Not now is not never! Take advantage of your prospect’s attention to let them know you’ll be around in the future in case their situation changes. Sharing some interesting “nurturing” content could be a good way for them to keep you on their radar until they’re ready to move forward.
The “I’m not the right person” Answer
There’s only one way to go with this one – excuse yourself for the mistake, and ask for the contact details for the appropriate person. Then, you can use this contact’s name in the subject line of your email to “the right person” as a referral, and increase your chances of getting their attention. Ex: “Getting in touch from Mr. Jones, hoping to add value”.
Crafting and following up on prospecting emails can be close to a science: always keep in mind that your first goal is to get your email opened, then to express your company’s value in a way that will engage the recipient. Drive the email to a clear call-to-action, and don’t be afraid to redirect a seemingly negative response that could lead to a future sales call. All in all, A/B testing is a great way to see what works for your particular market – and keeping up on the latest prospecting trends can jazz up your copy if ever you need fresh ideas.