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16 Psychology Tips to Upgrade Your Cold Sales Emails [ + Template]

Prospects are people, too. And people are hard-wired to respond more positively to certain words and types of messaging.

I know, I know, you’re in sales -- you’re not a psychologist. But simply learning just a few psychological tips can drastically enhance your connect rates. Here are a few of my favorites.

1) Pay very close attention to the words you use.

Think about this for a second. If we’re partnering on a project, and I tell you you’re going to have a lot of responsibility, you might feel daunted. But if I tell you you’ll have a lot of control, you’ll probably see that as freeing, and look forward to the work. These two sentences mean the same thing, but they come off very differently to the other person.

2) Keep it short and dumb it down.

Nobody wants to read your multi-paragraph sales pitch riddled with jargon and abbreviations. Even worse is when salespeople use big words to sound smarter. Thinking about using the word “utilize”? The word “use” is fine.

In the end you lose people. You’re not making it easy enough on them. Keep things readable for your recipient so they can digest the information quickly and take action. Imagine that your buyer is reading your email on their smartphone on the bus ride home. 

Be sure to make the key points and preferred actions clear -- maybe even highlight them in bold. And stay away from abbreviations unless they’re universally well known in the industry.

Also, don’t be afraid to go against the principles of writing in your sales emails. This isn’t your high school English class -- it's an important message to a busy potential buyer. Try adding more spacing in your emails -- separate paragraphs every two sentences. Make it easy for them to scan or read quickly.

When in doubt, use the eight-year-old test. Make the message simple enough for a second grader to understand.

3) Don’t be afraid to challenge people.

When setting up an email prospecting campaign, you’ll need to have a thick skin and (at times) a short memory. There will always be people who reply with a poor attitude. Just keep pushing, and do it the right way. You’re just doing your job. Know that for every one person that responds negatively, you’ll sign up 50 more.

But don’t ignore those negative people. Sometimes a great way to reply is by challenging them.

At Udemy, we would get contrary replies from experts all the time. As we refined our process, we got fewer and fewer negative responses, but it still happened every once in a while. But if you could read the situation well, and knew a little bit about the person's background, sometimes you could flip them.

I used to respond with a challenge. I would find two big name experts in their space that this person knew, and reply with the following:

Hi [First name],

Sorry to have bothered you. I thought you were on the level of [Expert X] and [Expert Y] who are both doing extremely well on Udemy. That’s why I thought this would be perfect for you, but I guess I was mistaken.

I will make sure you do not receive another email from us. Again, I apologize.

Best, Max

In this case, you’re challenging them by saying if they do not see the value, they must not be such a big expert. Some people wouldn't respond, and others would just write a simple “thanks.” But more often than not, we'd get the response, “Oh I didn’t know [Expert X] and [Expert Y] were on Udemy. Maybe I have a few minutes to chat this week.”

4) Sell to the individual, then the employee, then the company.

The person on the other end of your message is an individual first and foremost. He or she is a human being with feelings, emotions, wants, and needs.

Appeal to the individual first by making them feel like they’ll be more special or important if they listen to you. Then appeal to their career ambitions, and explain how working with you will make them look good to their boss. Lastly, appeal to the company by providing your contact with the tools they need to sell the rest of the stakeholders on your product.

For example:

“Here’s how this is going to make you look like a hero to your team … ”

“Here’s how it’s going to make your team more productive and generate more revenue … ”

“Here’s how to sell it to the key stakeholders … ”

Cold email expert and CEO of Salesfolk, Heather R. Morgan, has several more psychology-inspired sales email tips: 

5) Make your email conversational and human.

Don't write like a robot or be gimmicky.

6) Be persuasive.

Try to evoke emotions.

7) Talk about your product or service in terms of benefits
 instead of features.

For example: "Use this process to triple your response rates" vs. "This feature helps with A/B testing to write better email copy."

8) Show benefits rather than talking about them.

Provide a customer anecdote, and use a stat if possible. For example: "Our email copy helped [client] double their qualified leads in one month, which also doubled their sales team's quota."

9) Try to add value.

Alternatively, evoke fear of loss or play on people's competitive nature.

10) Be focused.

Don’t try to cover too many tangential points in one email.

11) Develop a clear persona for each segment list.

12) One concept per email.

If you have a lot of value 
props and ideas, save them for other touches 
in your campaign.

13) Send six to eight emails for every person you're 
reaching out to.

You might actually get more responses 
in the sixth to eights emails than any other earlier touchpoint. Even if this isn't the case, it's still worth keeping at it to engage the people who respond on email six to eight that would have otherwise stayed cold. 

14) Test everything.

Every persona and industry is different, so you need to test to find out what works.

15) Don’t be afraid to ask for or even demand things.

Just 
do it politely. The difference between pushy and persistent 
is politeness.

16) Try putting the company name in the subject line. 


Watch the clicks roll in.  

Visit HackingSales.com for more on cold outreach and outbound email campaign guidance.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the new book Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. It is published here with permission.

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