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Creating effective cold emails that convince prospects to schedule the first meeting is a bit like getting a first date. You need to capture your potential date’s interest in a crowded “market,” engage in a personal way to stand a chance at that first date and show you’re the real deal.
While it’s important to grab your prospect’s attention with personalization, you must use other cold email strategies to make your message stand out among the hundreds of emails your prospect likely receives each day. Yes, hundreds — the average office worker gets over 120 email messages every day.
And the challenges don’t stop there. Business is changing and so is the way your prospects manage their emails. You can almost guarantee any decision-maker will read your email in an elevator or in line at Starbucks (if they read it at all).
The best cold email is one that has a good response rate and converts prospects. That’s why I’m sharing our nine best tips (and a few samples) to make sure your cold email outreach builds a strong foundation, increases reply rates, and brings new leads. (If you want a cold email template to get started right away, then skip to the end.)
1. Focus on the pain points keeping your prospect up at night
Map out what your target audience cares about, including common pain points and what resonates with them. And don’t be afraid to get personal. If your ideal customer is a sales manager, talk about your perception of their goals and the high pressure they face to make sure their team meets those goals. You can even go as far to say you understand their job could be on the line if their team doesn’t achieve its goals.
Hi, [prospect name],
Imagine if your team could effortlessly schedule sales calls and demos, without all the back and forth.
3 useful CES insights in 30 seconds:
Delighting your customers doesn’t build loyalty
Reducing a customer’s effort to do something does increase loyalty
Acting on customer effort insights can reduce customer support costs
Churn is for butter, not users. Let’s keep it that way.
After that, introduce your product/service and convince them that joining a phone call or webinar with you is one step closer to eliminating these problems and reaching their goals.
When pitching a meeting, understand your prospect’s pain points first. Otherwise, they won’t even consider giving you their time.
2. Automate your cold email campaign
Before you start sending cold emails or LinkedIn messages, use a CRM platform like Salesloft, Outreach, or HubSpot to save your templates so you don’t have to waste time re-writing them. Pull up your saved email templates within your inbox and easily personalize them for each ideal customer.
It’s helpful to set up your templates before you start your cold email campaign, because these sales automation tools also help you track how well your emails are performing. You can use the data to make changes, conduct a/b tests, and optimize your emails as you go.
3. Skip the cheesy subject lines
The first step to conversion is getting your prospect to actually open your cold email. With crowded inboxes, most sales reps don’t even make it that far. In 2021, email open rates were only about 20%. Don’t try to come up with an overly clever or cute cold email subject line. For most recipients, that’s just noise (and an email to avoid).
Make a better first impression by creating a subject line that really targets your prospect’s needs — and sets you up to show how your product/service meets those needs. Here are a few subject lines that our own sales team found interesting:
kNOw relationships, kNOw sales
Friction is not ƒμN… well, you know what I mean.
Treat yourself to a better conversion rate.
Struggling with [pain point]? You're not alone
4. Cut to the chase
Use your intro email copy wisely. As a B2B sales rep, you understand your prospects have one thing in common regardless of industry: limited time. So why waste it with fluff and formalities? Do that and your cold email is already off to a bad start.
Avoid opening lines like “how are you doing?” and “hope this email finds you well” because they don’t matter to you or your prospect. Get to the point. Your prospects will appreciate that you’re respecting their time.
Hi, [prospect name],
Are you sick of seeing “How about Friday at 1, Tuesday from 1–3, or Monday at 11:30” in your inbox?
Well, so are your prospects. Get deals into the pipeline faster by helping your team engage with promising leads right away.
Is developing an ROAS or a full analysis across paid ads, email, and organic efforts stealing time from your other marketing priorities?
We are your reliable choice for centralizing your key marketing acquisition data.
Knowing that mobile is becoming a top way business professionals engage, you need to make sure your cold email is easily scannable. Writing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway can review your emails and show how to make them concise and engaging. For a more low-tech approach, ask a teammate to review your email — or simply read it aloud to hear if it sounds natural.
5. Make it easier for your prospects to convert
To increase conversion rates, use only one call-to-action which, in this case, is to schedule a phone call or webinar. Make booking an appointment easy for your prospect by using meeting scheduling software for sales teams. A scheduling platform automatically connects with your business calendar to detect your availability in real time, allowing you to share when you’re available in an email.
Without a scheduling tool, you risk engaging in the typical “When are you available?” back and forth, which could lead to an unnecessary exchange of emails — and decrease attention and interest from your prospect.
Use a CTA like “Let’s schedule a call to chat more about this” and link it to your scheduling page. Putting your availability one click away helps capture your prospect’s attention while they’re interested.
I prefer scheduling meetings with prospects as soon as possible, so I also limit my booking availability to the next five days. If you have a hot prospect who wants to talk immediately, then have a one-off meeting link ready to share at a moment’s notice.
6. Make it personal (but only if it’s relevant)
Instead of personalizing based on things that aren’t relevant to your reason for reaching out — like knowing your prospect lives in New York and bringing up how nice it is this time of year or knowing they graduated from UNC and mentioning their latest basketball win over Duke — focus on the prospect’s company’s business needs and what matters to them in their role. A little research can go a long way toward persuading your prospect to schedule a meeting.
I took a quick glance on LinkedIn and saw that, as [insert role], you are likely trying to empower your frontline sellers with the most valuable solutions to do their jobs.
But without strong relationships at every level of the political structure, your team is potentially putting themselves in a position to lose deals and waste time.
I talk to a lot of Senior Product Marketing Managers at software companies, and I’m guessing your team sometimes faces the challenge of trial users signing up, but then failing to convert to a paid plan.
To combat this, we take our powerful behavioral segmentation tool and pair it with our strong messaging automation platform, which delivers pretty straightforward results: increased customer retention, increased conversion rates from trial-to-paid customers, and increased customer re-engagement.
7. Answer “What’s in it for me?”
Whether your intent is to get your prospect on a discovery call or go straight into a demo, this first email is your best chance to sell that meeting. Why would they spend 20–30 minutes of their time with you on a cold call or webinar?
If you’ve done your research and know their persona, you already understand the current challenges facing people in similar roles at other companies. That empowers you to tell a prospect how your call will share insights about the market and your product/service that can help them achieve their goals.
Your sales team has a process, and it’s crucial that every new tool you bring on fits within it. At Calendly we prioritize working in tandem with the tools you already use to power your connections.
Salesforce — automatically create or update the lead, contact, or opportunity when you schedule a prospect meeting
Zoom — choose Zoom as your event location to automatically save your conference details to your Calendly event
Slack — easily access and share Calendly links, send personal messages, and choose how you want to meet
By automating their scheduling with Calendly, Virtu doubled the number of demos scheduled from inbound leads. “Within the first month of using Calendly, we jumped from 30% to 61% of leads scheduling a call." - Director of Demand Gen at Virtu.
I think we can match, if not exceed, this same growth by enabling your sales team schedule more efficiently with Calendly. Do you have time [X business days from now] to connect? Or feel free to grab any open time on my Calendly link here.
After all, hitting their goal is what truly matters to them. Make sure your email copy contains a value proposition tailored to that goal.
8. Offer credibility
Why should your prospect believe what you have to say? Powerful metrics and relevant content that show your expertise go a long way in a cold email. Including them shows you’ve done your research and have empathy for your prospect and their situation.
You need to position yourself as an expert on your prospect’s role before they will even consider speaking to you. Be prepared to include metrics relevant to both the market and your prospect specifically. Also, share a good example of how your product/service has helped a similar client (and build some social proof in the process.)
Our team recently ran a study and found that people send 7.3 emails on average to set a single meeting. With Calendly’s automated scheduling solution, you can cut your team’s time-to-meeting down by more than half.
Hi, [prospect name],
Implementing Calendly into your sales process is crucial to speed up your pipeline and turn more leads into meetings and closed deals:
The proof is in the numbers our existing customers are seeing:
Double the conversion of inbound leads
100% increase in demos scheduled
50% increase in time for selling
Adopt an email marketing strategy and keep your email short by linking to an overview sheet or case study. If you want to reinforce your personal branding as an expert, add your LinkedIn page or a business-oriented social media account to the contact information in your email signature.
9. Don’t sell yourself short
Telling potential clients things like, "I only need 5 minutes of your time" isn’t ideal. Yes, prospects are busy and you want to respect their time. But you don't want to cheapen your offering — a call with you delivers real value.
Instead, frame your request along the lines of “To do this right, we’ll need 20 minutes to discuss how [X product/service] meets your specific needs.” This approach sets realistic expectations for time investment while reinforcing that you have real, valuable insights to share.
Bonus: Try this cold email template to book more meetings
Say you’re looking to sell to sales professionals. Based on the list your marketing team provided, you know they are sales managers of teams of 10 or more within a software company. Through additional research of the audience, you know that sales managers have a few things in common:
They want their team to be more efficient and spend the majority of their time selling.
They must empower their team to meet their quota or else their job could be on the line.
Here’s a cold email example that uses the insights and tips above:
Hi, [prospect name],
Your team is spending too much time on admin work, which doesn’t leave much time for selling. It’s risky for you if you don’t meet quota, so you need to empower your sales reps with tools to make their workday more efficient. More selling = more money for [company name], and it also helps get your boss off your back.
I’d love to learn more about your needs before sharing how [X product/service] would fit into your team’s workflow and help your reps spend more than 70% of their day selling.
Grab a time on my Calendly link below, or let me know some times that work for you.
[insert scheduling link]
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