Selling to large companies allows you to dust off the cold email strategy that is almost impossible to use to initiate smaller deals.
One of the curious things about this type of strategy is that it divides people. Some people love them and some people hate them.
Whichever side you’re on, in this lesson you’ll discover how to articulate strategies like this and how to maximise the chances of them working.
Do cold emails work in 2021?
Short answer: No, they don’t.
The real answer: most of the time, they don’t work because they’re poorly done. Very poorly.
The main reason this strategy fails is this: while half of the salespeople love it and half don’t, 100% of the people who usually receive this type of email hate them.
They don’t get cold emails. They get pure SPAM.
The experiment Shane Snow conducted for his book Smartcuts is very revealing: He sent 1,000 emails to C-level executives at S&P 500 companies.
After deducting the emails that were rejected, 707 reached their recipients.
The response rate was 1.7%.
But the useful response rate was 0.14%.
Only one person.
Later, applying the same knowledge that you will see in this lesson, he obtained, with a small group of the first 1000 beneficiaries of the experiment, much better results.
For a strategy like this to work, many parts need to be linked together:
- The subject and sender of the email.
- The body of the email.
- The call to action of the email.
- The follow-up email.
The subject line and the sender of the cold email
The first major filter in all these emails is the subject line and the sender.
If the person receiving the email does not like what they see here, they will not even open it.
The keys to avoiding this are:
Use a name you are familiar with in your subject line.
If you can find someone in common that you both know, an intro is most effective.
The second most effective way is to mention them in the subject line.
When you see a familiar person’s name in the subject line of an email, it’s irresistible to open it.
It is obvious that you need to phrase it in a meaningful way.
Don’t just write it for the sake of writing.
Use something that will really pique their interest.
The key to this strategy (and to the whole process of selling to large companies) is to really want to be useful.
We explored this idea further when we talked about the email CTA, but it applies here too.
If you are going to include something in the email that may be interesting and useful to the recipient, mention it.
Don’t be a clickbaiter
It is sometimes tempting to write headlines that promise much more than the email offers.
I have done this myself.
It’s a big mistake, because even though you’ll significantly improve the open rate, once inside the email, the disappointment will be greater and you’ll end up in the trash.
When you write the title of the email, only make promises that will be kept inside the email.
According to Snow’s experience, concise lines give better results: Short subject line, which arouses curiosity: “Quick question” – 51.2% opens.
Longer, more specific subject line: “15 second question for research on boring emails” – 48.8% opens.
This might look like a draw. But when you test on cold emails, you have to go all the way.
On the 2 variables, what are the conversion percentages? “Quick question”: 4% response rate.
“15 second question for a search on boring emails”: 2.3% response rate.
With these ideas in mind, test different questions until you find the one that works best for you.
In my experience, “A very quick question + [something personal that shows I know you]” has given me the best results.
The body of the cold email
Once the recipient has opened your email, you only have one chance to achieve your goal. To achieve this, here are 4 keys to writing the email:
Personalise the email
Personalisation means that you have thought about who this person is, what they are interested in and what problems they are facing.
And you have reflected this in the email.
Ideally, you also describe why they are the best person to receive this email and not another colleague in their organisation.
To achieve this, there are two requirements:
- Research the person who will receive the email.
- Do not use templates.
By definition, if something is personalised, it is not based on a template.
I know it’s tedious and many would prefer I share an email template to fill in the blanks and start getting new prospects with cold emails.
Sorry, that wouldn’t work. That’s why this is a lesson without a template. You’ll have to do it yourself.
The perfect cold email proves that you are someone you can trust.
And the quickest way to do this is, once again, to talk about a mutual acquaintance.
If you have a personal brand or social status in your industry that is of interest to the recipient, mention it.
If none of this is possible, find some common ground.
Perhaps you are supporters of the same football team. Perhaps you grew up in the same neighbourhood. Maybe you have the same hobbies.
Any common ground will make you look a little more like a member of their tribe. And your tribe members are much more trustworthy.
Keep it short
The best way to keep it short is to write like you talk.
Imagine you meet someone at an event: You would introduce yourself, say something nice, take a real interest in them, and only then would it make sense for you to bring or ask them something.
Keep this in mind when you write the email, and once it is written, try to narrow it down a bit more.
Offer something they will find useful
If your email is all about your company and your services, it won’t work.
Everyone is preoccupied with their problems. Not much else.
Hopefully, by this stage, you will have investigated the recipient of the email and their business, what problems they may have, what may be wasting their time or money.
Why should this busy person take the time to respond? What’s in it for them?
Focusing on usefulness and not closing a meeting is often the key to success, which is why we discuss it in the next point.
The call to action in a cold email
The call to action, what you want to achieve, should be easy and convenient for the recipient of the email.
Make an effort so that the other person doesn’t have to do it.
“Let me know if you want to meet” is probably one of the worst possible CTAs.
Compare it with: “We can have a 10 minute chat on Wednesday or Thursday between 10am and 1pm by video call or in the cafe under your desk.
If that’s not convenient, let me know when you can and I’m sure I’ll be available.
Nothing to see.
The key to CTA is not to make the other person think too much and not to ask too much of them.
Xavier Laballós, co-founder of Growth Hacking Course and who gets many leads, goes even further: “At Growth Hacking Course, we have always focused on value in all communications with prospects or clients.
By always having this premise in mind, the ideas that come to mind when developing the CTA will be better.
In our growth course, CTAs are a key part of acquisition and conversion strategies.
The difference we always see is that we focus on delivering value in the growth method and using data to validate the hypothesis.
We would like to see the lead in an initial cold email get involved in the conversation and agree to a call or a demonstration, but this almost never happens.
However, there are other techniques we use that give us a much better chance of getting the lead to become an active part of the conversation, which is ultimately what we want.
Prospects don’t want to buy, they want to be the ones to decide to buy.
To go against that today is to deny a reality.
So what we do is give them the arguments they need to make the decision to act and then, yes, ask you to schedule a call, a demo or a meeting.
How do we do this? In an initial cold traffic email, we give relevant information to the person we are targeting.
Enough so that the manager wants to know a little more about what you are telling them.
We do this because they are not yet ready to request a call or a demonstration with you.
The manager feels that they want to know a little more before they act and this is where you have the opportunity to do so.
It’s very subtle but what we’re doing is moving from a two-step process to a three-step process.
In reality, the process is a little more complex than three steps and it’s automated, measured and repeated to get the best results.
But that’s the basic idea.
I show you an example of how to add value in an initial contact with the lead, so that they are the ones who decide to act and are interested in buying your services.
This is a LinkedIn action rather than a cold email, but the idea is the same: We launched a post on LinkedIn (Guide to the best 48 Growth Hacking Tools of 2021), which would be equivalent to launching a cold email, but instead of having a sales CTA, we put a value CTA:
- Reach: +500,000 people
- New qualified leads obtained and asked for more information: +7,500
Everyone, people who responded to our value CTA who wouldn’t have responded in the same way to a demo, meeting or CTA call.
Then we sent a follow-up email, now with a CTA to schedule a call with us, which we have now filled our calendar with.
The end goal is the same but the means to achieve it are different and the results are different 😉
Conclusion: before putting a sales CTA, think about putting a value CTA and then in the next touch point a sales CTA.
Follow-up on cold emails
Often they will not respond to your email, no matter how elaborate it is.
I know this is frustrating, but you have to keep in mind that it’s not personal.
You are writing to busy people who receive a lot of emails and some of them get lost in their inbox or don’t find the time to respond.
The solution is simple: persevere and send follow-ups. This is my favourite follow-up process, but you need to adapt it to your situation and what you are most comfortable with.
- You send the first cold email.
- 2 or 3 days later, at another time of day, you send the first follow-up. This email will be a modified version of the original. If the previous one was very short, this one will be a little longer. If the previous one was already a bit long, make this one shorter. Do not write anything new, just repeat your message.
- 2 or 3 days after the previous email, send the second follow-up. In this email, simply ask if they received the emails you sent.
- 3 days after your third email, you send the last message. This is called the “break email” and in this one you say goodbye to the contact, thank them for their time and offer to help them if they ever need it. You can’t imagine how effective this follow-up is. Personally, it gives me the most responses.
With these techniques you should get a good flow of leads
If you apply these techniques you will start to get a lot of fish in your net.
The next step is to differentiate between the big fish and the small ones that are best thrown back into the sea.
And that is precisely the subject of the next lesson.
If you don’t want to miss anything, you can leave your e-mail here and I’ll let you know when I publish the next lesson.
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5 examples of sales emails to generate interesting leads