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2021 Guide: How to Write a Cold Email That Converts

Rachel Williams, March 31, 2020

Creating cold emails that convert prospects to schedule the first meeting is a lot like getting a first date. You need to capture your potential date’s interest in a crowded “market,” engage in a personal way to even stand a chance for that first date and show that you’re the real deal.

To get your prospect’s attention in the first place, personalization is key, but there are a few other tricks to make your message stand out among the hundreds of cold emails your prospect is likely receiving each day. Yes, hundreds. The average email user gets 147 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 your email (if ever opened) will be read in the elevator or in line at Starbucks.

As part of our Sales Playbook Series, I’m sharing our nine best tips to make sure your cold emails build a strong foundation and convert.

1. Focus on what keeps your prospect up at night

Map out what your prospect cares about, including common pain points and what resonates with them. And don’t be afraid to get personal. If you know they are a sales manager, talk about your perception of their goals and the high pressure they are under to make sure their team is meeting those goals. You can even go as far to say that you understand if their team doesn’t achieve its goals, their job as manager could be on the line. After all of that, introduce your solution and convince them that joining the call with you is one step closer to eliminating these problems and reaching their goals.

When pitching a meeting, understanding your prospect’s pain is the first step before they even consider giving you their time.

2. Automate your sales email templates

Before you start sending your cold emails, use a tool like HubSpot to save your templates so you don’t have to waste time re-writing them. Pull up your saved HubSpot email templates within your inbox and easily personalize them. It’s helpful to get this set up before you start sending your cold emails because tools like HubSpot also help you to track how well they’re performing, so you can make changes 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. 77% of sales emails are never opened. Don’t do what every other rep is doing and try to come up with a super creative subject line—for most, that’s just noise. Instead, create a subject line that’s really targeted to your prospect’s needs and tie back your solution to focus on those needs.

4. Cut to the chase

As a B2B sales rep, you understand one major commonality of your prospects regardless of industry: they don’t have a lot of time. So why waste their already limited time with fluff and formalities? Do that and you’re already off to a bad start. Avoid the “how are you doing?” and “hope this email finds you well” language because it doesn’t matter to you or your prospect. Get to the point and they’ll appreciate that you’re respecting their time. Knowing that mobile is becoming a top way business professionals engage, you need to make sure your email is easily scannable.

5. Lead them to convert

To optimize chances of conversion from a cold email, use only one call-to-action which, in this case, is to schedule a call. A meeting scheduling software for sales teams that automatically connects with your business calendar to detect your availability allows you to offer this availability to your prospect 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 that makes it likely to lose them.

Pro tip: Using a CTA like “Let’s schedule a call to chat more about this.” with your scheduling page linked helps to capture your prospect’s attention while they’re interested. I also like locking down how far out they can schedule by only offering the next 5 days since my goal is to get a meeting scheduled as soon as possible.

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 their business needs and what matters to them in their role. A little research can go a long way towards getting your prospect to convert to schedule a meeting. 

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? If you’ve done your research and understand their persona, you can tell them how your call is going to bring them closer to achieving X goal that you’ve identified. After all, hitting their goal is what truly matters to them.

8. Offer credibility

Powerful statistics and relevant content that show your expertise go a long way in a cold email. It shows you’ve done your research and have empathy for your prospect and their situation. You need to position yourself as an expert on their role before they will even think about speaking to you.

9. Don’t sell yourself short

Saying things like, “I only need 5 minutes of your time.” isn’t always ideal. While your prospect is busy and you want to recognize that, this approach is really just cheapening your service and the value a call with you will bring them. Incorporating a line like, “To do this right, we’ll need 20 minutes to discuss how (X solution) meets your specific needs.” helps to show the value of the call.

BONUS: Try this cold email template

Say you’re looking to sell to sales professionals. Based on the list your marketing team gave you, 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: 1) they want their team to be more efficient and spend the majority of their time selling and 2) they need to empower their team to meet their quota or else their job could be on the line. Here’s an example cold email using all the insights and tips in this blog:

Subject line: Your reps spend 67% of their day NOT selling—I’m here to help

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 reps with tools to make their work day more efficient. More selling = more money for your entire organization, and it also helps to get your boss off your back.

I’d love to learn more about your needs before sharing how (X solution) would fit into your team’s workflow and help your reps spend more than 70% of their day selling. Book a time for a consultative discovery call this week (insert scheduling link).

Enjoyed this post? Our Sales Playbook Series offers proven strategies and free takeaways to help sales teams implement true consultative selling practices to meet their quota and then some while building better relationships with prospects:

Rachel Williams biography
Rachel Williams

Rachel is our Director of Sales at Calendly. She loves her kids, her cat, and software sales in January.

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