What's the difference between the sales email no one opens and responds to and the one that generates dozens of new customers?Is it the subject line? The length? The way the copy is written? Or the ideas contained in the content?

The answer is a combination of all of the above.

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How (Not) to Send a Cold Email for Sales

If you have a targeted lead list and your response rate is less than 10% with personalized emails, your emails could use some work. Once upon a time, a B2B company came to me for help with their emails. They offered an incredible service for the SaaS space, but weren't very successful with their sales emails. Their response rates were below 2%.

After about a month of working together, I created a single sales email template that got them more than 16 new customers. But before I reveal the template, let's dig into what was wrong with their previous approach.

Why their emails were failing:

  1. Too long: No one wants to read a mini ebook in an email.
  2. Too many ideas: Although the company had an amazing product, they were highlighting too many value props in their emails, which confused readers.
  3. Too "me me me:" Their emails talked way too much about why they were awesome and listed their company's features instead of putting it in terms of value for the customer.
  4. Too hipster: They wanted to seem young and modern, but overly fancy marketing automation templates made their emails seem impersonal and spammy — even with customization. No one thinks they're getting a personal email if it's too pretty.
  5. Too soft: They weren't assertive enough. They took a soft tone with their emails, starting with something like, "You don't know me, but..." If a prospect doesn't know you, then they know they're probably being sold to.   
  6. Too robotic: There was no human element to their emails. They were cold, rigid, and did nothing but harp on generic marketing points. A prospect is going to take that as a surefire sign that all they were looking to do was sell something.
  7. Too many special characters: They typed like this!!! That's a good way to look spammy and turn prospects off!!! 
  8. Too many grammatical errors: They didnt proofread enough and a message with Too Many grammar, or spelling mistakess; is a good way to look, sloppy and  unprofessional. 

We've gone through the bad, and now it's time for the good. Here's the new and improved template they deployed:

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A New Cold Email Template

The results of this email spoke for themselves:

  • 57% open rate
  • 21% response rate
  • Outcome: 16 new customers

So why did this sales email template work when the previous ones failed? Here are a few reasons:

1. Exciting subject line

The subject line is your gatekeeper, so 50% of email work should be spent crafting and testing different subject lines. You want to create an exciting but credible (not spammy or sales-y) subject that intrigues recipients.

Make your subject line compelling and informative to pique the recipient's interest in the body of the email — and research the prospect so the subject line is personalized for them.

2. Enticing offer

Give your prospects a reason to respond, and a simple call-to-action. Who wouldn't want to "almost triple their monthly run rate?" Mentioning your past success with another client they've heard of makes this offer seem more realistic and attainable. Include relevant numbers and statistics to make your offer even more exciting.

3. Personal feel

This sales email has the same basic format and tone of an email you'd send to your mom or best friend. When you're too formal, you sound stiff and like a salesperson rather than a person-person.

In the example above, the salesperson's "idea" makes the email less aggressive and aligns with where the recipient is at the beginning of their buyer's journey. Before you hit the send button, do a final read-through of the email to make sure it has a natural and conversational tone.

4. Social proof

One of your biggest barriers to selling is risk. No one wants to be the first customer and work with a company without credibility or experience. Mentioning one of your customers and the results you delivered to them makes you less of a risk.

You can attach client case studies to provide your prospect with a detailed preview of your work. With a compelling example, the prospect will be more inclined to work with you.

Cold Sales Email Templates for B2B

Here are two cold email templates that you can use to create emails your prospects will want to open.

1. B2B email template for finding the decision maker in the company

This template is used by Bryan Kreuzberger, founder of Breakthrough Email, as a first touch email. He clearly states the purpose of the email and includes information about previous clients to demonstrate his credibility. The email is wrapped up with a call-to-action that outlines the next steps.

2. B2B email template to build rapport

Caroline Ostrander, a HubSpot Freemium Service Manager, and former Business Development Representative, used this template after researching the prospect and finding a rapport building opportunity. Not only was she able to relate to the prospect regarding the new job, but she also mentioned his co-worker's names and referenced her other attempts to help their company.

3. B2B email template to establish value

What do you have to offer the prospect? This B2B email template allows you to engage with them and suggest some time to connect.

4. B2B email template to introduce yourself

Use this B2B email template to introduce yourself and your company to the prospect. Plus, it includes social proof with a customer example.

Crafting the perfect cold sales email can be tricky, but these tips and templates are a great place to start. Above all else, remember to keep it simple. Looking for more sales email templates? Check out these effective sales email templates next.

Editor's note: This post contains an excerpt from the book The Predictable Revenue Guide to Tripling Your Sales, and is published here with permission.

Heather R. Morgan is the founder of SalesFolk, a B2B sales emailing consultancy. These are some of her best messaging tips, written in her own words.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 7, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published Mar 18, 2020 4:15:00 PM, updated April 28 2020


Sales Email Templates