With all of the different media available now for reaching out to prospects, we still need email to get the job done. Sure, it's not the flashiest or the most contemporary form of communication, but it is still ubiquitous. The average American employee spends over six hours per day checking email, and respondents in the 18-34 demographic indicated that they spent even more time on their work email than older employees. Sometimes reaching out to a prospect with a cold sales email is the beginning of a long-term, mutually-beneficial business relationship. Far too often however, impersonal and overwhelming sales emails can lead the prospect to close the door on your company and lock it too, all before you're even within view of the doorway.
Twenty-first century B2B buyers have so many commitments vying for their attention, and they're so attuned to marketing and sales material that you may think it's nearly impossible to get them to respond to a cold email. But just because they've grown accustomed to the practice doesn't mean they aren't looking for innovative solutions to legitimate problems. They expect you to be honest, respectful of their time, and they want to connect with you on a personal level, just like with any human interaction.
You're not a sales robot, so don't write like a sales robot
The most fundamental aspect of writing a cold sales email that people will want to read is also the simplest, yet sales reps still forget it constantly. It has to sound like an actual human being wrote the email, or else it'll end up in the spam or trash folder without a second glance. This isn't the time for a formal letter that sounds like it was drafted by a legal team to be submitted to the court.
Address your prospect by their first name, be straight and to-the-point, and do not unnecessarily fill the space with fancy graphics and statistics in an attempt to prove your authority. Reach out to them as if you're a human who wants to have a conversation with another human, and you'll pique their interest as to what benefits this relationship could bring.
Find something you can use to create a personal connection
With so much information available through social media and corporate websites it's possible to find some fact that you can use as an icebreaker in almost any situation. Don't use this as an excuse to break any ethical or legal barriers by attempting to gain access to private information through unscrupulous means, but by doing some cursory research you should be able to find a basic conversation starter. Even if you can't discover anything about the prospect themselves, you can use any connection you have to their brand or industry to kick things off.
Give them just the details they need to keep reading
Let's say for argument's sake that you have a great product that you're knowledgeable and passionate about, and you're sending a cold sales email to a well-targeted prospect whom you know can stand to benefit from doing business with you. That's great, but you might also assume that this email is the time when you're going to dazzle your prospect with spectacularly detailed information about your offering so that there's no chance they won't understand why they should continue the conversation. It's not the right time! A litany of dense information is going to cause their eyes to glaze over at this point, so be reticent with the details until you've already established an interest. Focus on introducing just one idea at this point, such as how you've helped company X increase productivity by a certain amount and you'd like to do the same for them.
Only automate if you have the data to back it up
You can do some great things with quality sales automation software, but if you don't have a solid database of CRM information to draw from then automation is going to make the email sound impersonal. Again, many of these automation programs go heavy on the graphics and images in an attempt to make the content stand out, but at this stage you should eschew this strategy in favor of personal details that will connect you with the audience.
Get to the point in the CTA
Make it short and sweet, but always end your cold emails with a clear call-to-action. Remember that it's important to respect their time (they've already committed some to you by reading to the end of your email!), so make sure your request in the CTA doesn't require too much of an investment. This is only the beginning of a multi-stage process, so not everything has to be covered in this or even the next conversation.
Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.