Salespeople send a lot of emails.
In fact, the average salesperson spends a staggering 21% of each working day writing emails. That’s a full day every week.
So what’s the point of sending all those messages?
Clearly, you’re not just doing it for fun. The ultimate purpose of any cold email campaign is to strike up a conversation that you can transition away from the inbox and into a meeting, either face-to-face or via videoconference. After all, you’re much more likely to close a deal in a meeting than you are in an email.
Of course, that’s no easy task. Only a small proportion of cold email recipients will even respond, let alone agree to a meeting. But there are some steps you can take to increase your chance of converting those prospects into meaningful sales conversations.
1. Find the Right Prospects
The first step to improving your cold email conversion rate? Focus all of your efforts on reaching the right people (and ideally at a time when they’re in the market for a product like yours).
Build an email list of prospects, focusing solely on decision-makers at organizations that most closely mimic your best customers. Consider factors such as:
- The industry in which they operate
- The size of their company, in terms of headcount and revenue
- Where they’re located
- Their business goals and future strategy
- The stage of growth they’re in
When it comes to building a prospect list, always focus on quality over quantity. There’s no benefit to spending time fostering relationships with people who were never a good fit for you in the first place.
Instead, hone in on prospects who are most likely to benefit from your product. Deep-dive into your target audience, identifying valuable information about their career goals, interests, and pain points.
All of that information will help you to craft more relevant, personalized emails that have a better chance of grabbing your prospects’ attention and encouraging them to find out more.
2. Personalize Your Outreach
Personalization is absolutely crucial to the success of your cold email outreach. Today, buyers won’t look twice if it’s clear that you’ve simply sent the same generic message to thousands of people – it just won’t cut through the clutter of their inbox. People are busy; you need to give them a clear reason to spend their valuable time reading what you have to say.
Use the information you gathered during the previous stage to personalize each and every email you send.
While that might sound like a lot of effort, it’s easier than you’d think to craft emails that appear to be laser-targeted to an individual prospect but are actually highly repeatable.
Cold email templates are your best friend here. They allow you to add personalized details in all the right places, while saving you the time it takes to write a brand new message from scratch.
One word of warning: while templates are effective, copypasta definitely isn’t. If all you’re doing is taking a message, adding the recipient’s name to the subject line and hitting “send” don’t expect to see results.
3. Offer Something of Value
By definition, you don’t have an existing relationship with your cold email prospects. They don’t owe you anything. Why should they take time out of their busy schedule to respond to you?
The answer is simple: they won’t. Not unless you offer them some kind of incentive – a reason to reply. Something of value that they can’t easily find elsewhere. You’ll need to use your knowledge of each prospect – based on the research you’ve carried out – to make an educated guess at what they’ll find most valuable. It could be:
- An analysis of trends in their market
- An in-depth guide to performing a task that’s important to them
- A link to a free tool that will save them time and make their life easier
- Exclusive data on their customers or competitors
- A free SEO, UX or CRO audit of their website
Of course, you don’t want to give away too much for free. Ideally, the “something of value” should build trust in your expertise and help you to strike up a conversation, not tell them everything they need to know right away.
4. Clear Call to Action
Every email you send should have a clear call to action. If it’s not immediately obvious what you want the prospect to do after reading your message, you might as well not send it in the first place. You certainly can’t expect them to guess at the next step you want them to take.
Jack Wilson, Head of Sales at Right Inbox recommends focusing on driving a single action from every email. Don’t ask your prospects to download a piece of content, sign up to a webinar, and book a product demo all at once – keep it simple and make it easy for them to respond.
In practice, if your goal is to book a meeting, your CTA should look something like:
- Would you be available for a quick coffee meeting at 8 am on Tuesday?
- Do you have time next week to set up a call or grab a coffee together?
- Would you be able to meet at your office or ours next Friday at noon?
One final pointer on this: don’t leave it up to them to do all the planning. Suggest a specific date, time, and location yourself and include a link to MeetFox or your schedule so they can easily suggest an alternative slot if yours doesn’t work. Make the most of the meetings with this ready-to-edit video template.
5. Send Follow-Ups
You’re busy. So are your prospects. Don’t expect them to respond first time. You might have reached out to them while they were in a three-hour meeting. By the time they’re back at their desk, they’ve got a to-do list as long as their arm and 30 new emails.
Persistence pays in the world of cold email outreach. In one study, the first email sent generated an 18% response rate, dropping to 13% by the fourth email. Yet for the sixth message in the sequence, the response rate shot up to 27%.
The lesson here? Following up massively increases your chances of getting a response.
There are five steps to writing a follow-up email that prompts prospects to take action:
- Jog their memory about your previous message
- Give them something of value
- Explain the purpose of your email
- Include a clear, compelling CTA
- Sign off in a natural way
You’ll never convert every cold email prospect to book a meeting. Even if you offer them courtside seats to the Lakers, some still won’t reply.
As with everything in sales, success is a numbers game.
But that doesn’t mean you need to send more emails – just that you need to send more of the right kinds of emails, to the right people, at the right time.
Author – Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder of Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.