3 Quick Ways to Bullet-Proof Your Cold Email Messages

No matter what target market my students are calling on when sending cold email messages, I see the same weak spots over-and-over. Unknowingly, sellers are often sabotaging themselves by “blasting” prospects. But starting a conversation with email can happen. I’ve seen it.

Patrick's email blogNo matter what target market my students are calling on when sending cold email messages, I see the same weak spots over-and-over. Unknowingly, sellers are often sabotaging themselves by “blasting” prospects:

  1. long, un-personalized “push” copy (rather than pull)
  2. persuasive marketing prose (rather than copy that embraces rejection)
  3. using words that sabotage (signal “I’m needy” or “I’m a waste of time”)

Let’s say you’re aiming to start a conversation with an executive decision-maker. You sell a product or service that takes time, involves “consultative selling,” probably requires a few yeses. Your biggest enemy is the status quo.

Starting a conversation with email can happen. I’ve seen it.

But increasingly chief executives and top VPs are suffering from inbox saturation, in general. Mostly from SDR/BDRs (sales and business development reps) whose approaches are obnoxious.

Moreover, it’s not effective at starting conversations.

Shorten, Personalize and Pull

Long, non-personalized messages that push meetings using “blasts” that “push on pains” are not good conversation-starters. Yet we see them all the time.

The goal of your cold email is to provoke a reaction — that leads to a short conversation, qualifying a longer one … or not. No is a great answer too.

The goal is not to get referred. It’s not to set a date for a demo or meeting. These are what I mean by pushy.

Before pressing send make sure your email:

  • contains a first paragraph proving you researched the prospect
  • takes 10 seconds or less to read
  • does not ask for a meeting
  • contains a provocation, likely to trigger a reply asking for clarification

Calling on C-suite executives comfortable with the status quo? Generating a conversation with these people takes more than a “blast.” It takes a personalized message that is short (and provocative) enough to attract the prospect.

Don’t push, pull. Attract.

Don’t Need the Sale

Want the sale. Don’t need it. Show your prospect you don’t need it. Shift the tone of your cold email by shifting your mindset. This avoids writing in ways that communicate “I’m desperate for your business.”

Some of my best students avoid these words like the plague:

  • Please
  • Love
  • Looking forward to
  • Hope

Each one of these adds up. Every word counts. The more weak words used the more you help readers feel you need the sale.

The more weak you sound the less attractive you become.

Think about it this way: If a prospect truly believed your solution could double their productivity or increase revenue by 30% would they delete your message?

No. They would immediately hit pause (on what they’re doing) and make time.

Don’t Signal “I’m Wasting Your Time”

When a prospect deletes you they actually mean “This isn’t worth a moment of my time.”

Why? Because you convinced them it wasn’t… often by using weak words.

Time is another element where your words demonstrate lack of respect. Often unknowingly. Do you ever use these phrases?

  • As you probably realize …
  • Again …
  • Obviously …

These are all words that communicate, “I’m about to waste your time” to your reader. I’m about to tell you something you already know. Or I’m about to repeat myself. Or I’m about to tell you something obvious.

People don’t have time for you when you signal “I’m good at wasting it.” Your words are powerful. Keep this in mind.

Stop Persuading

As a sales person, your goal isn’t to convince the prospect to talk with you. That speaking would be smart. The goal is for the prospect to convince themselves that talking is smart … if, in fact, it is.

Stop trying to persuade. Everyone hates strangers who try to persuade them, especially in an email.

Are your cold emails and voicemail messages helping buyers feel an urge to ask for help? Are your follow-ups helping them reach conclusions on their own? That’s different, powerful.

Or are you trying to persuade the prospect you are credible?

I know experts say, “you’ve got to write something convincing them to reply …” and “you’ve got to appear credible to earn the response.”

No you don’t.

You have to be provocative, not credible. Credibility comes later — when a customer is considering doing business with you. You don’t need to have credibility to initiate a short conversation about a longer one.

You need to be provocative.

The problem with using words that posture is… well… you’re posturing. You’re trying to appear credible to someone you don’t know. And that never works in email, nor in general, when you talk about yourself.

When we try to appear credible we actually “signal” to strangers:

  • I have my own agenda
  • I am out to convince/persuade you
  • I know you won’t believe me, so I’ll bring in 3rd parties to prove it (your research report, your Gartner praise, etc.)

Instead, challenge the prospect to challenge you!

Make your claim. Boldly. Let them react to it. Let them label it nonsense or ask you to prove it.

Now you’ve provoked a discussion.

I have many students who do well with CEOs and CIOs using the phrase, “unorthodox but effective” when describing a strategy or tactic … relating to what they sell. This dares the prospect to hit reply and ask, “ok, you’re on. What’s so unorthodox about what you’re asking me to consider?”

What has your experience been?

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

13 thoughts on “3 Quick Ways to Bullet-Proof Your Cold Email Messages”

  1. I LOVE this! Too many times we are selling the way we were told to sell and that is so played out that people catch on to it. Going deeper and authentic is more powerful. Owning what you do without selling them is a big relief. Thank You for starting my day knowing I don’t have to put on this B.S. mask, selling, I can be my self using my own provocative energy helping them make their- own- decision.

    1. Wow. That is really well said, Gylliayn! Glad to have this effect on you–and for you to have effect on me likewise. You have provocative energy? Cool 🙂 many of my best students do too.

      1. Sorry for delay- have to change my Disqus settings to be notified! Yes, I have provocative energy:-) I believe Provocative = listening. The more I listen, the more they feel heard and respected. Cold emails, ( to me ) is the same. Being authentic is like listening-respecting their intelligence. I just look at the emails that I receive and pay attention to the way it made me “feel “- sift and sort out the ones as I am sure my recipients are doing as well. I am all about that touchy feely stuff getting to the core. It is more meaningful, has stick-ability and is relevant to their emotional senses. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9362e4b9cbffeb1df1eec805e50b2c5e1e48be27377fb37246da3e9001d6f162.jpg .

        1. Agreed… but one cannot start a conversation by listening. Can they? 🙂 Yet doing more listening than talking does provoke interest. We learned that from Dale Carnegie long ago!

          1. How to Win Friends & Influence People. I have this book from Audible- has played many nights while I sleep. Starting convo is the easy part, by listening , I feel I can tailor my response / question. You have heard of Socratic Questioning, I am sure you have 🙂

          2. Just googled her- looks awesome. Going to browse around her site- from I see just NOW , I am totally excited to dig in. Subscribed to her newsletter 🙂 WOW! GOLD MINE!

  2. I’ve worked with hundreds of sales reps and few, if even one of them, have ever understood the goal of *starting* a conversation. And then Jeff Molander began writing directions and suggestions like this article – which provides actionable information.
    When I stop being needy, I can focus on my reader’s needs – like being respectfully short + factual + interesting – and ending with an implied choice. I think of this instruction as a prescription, and I think effective cold email is also a prescription for the reader: declarative, unambiguous, single action.
    Doctor’s don’t beg – they tell you what to do and leave it up to you to follow instructions – and if you want to fix your pain/problem, YOU decide to take action. No one can persuade you or motivate you to do something, that desire comes from inside.
    Starting a conversation is exactly the same as Jeff points out.
    Thank you Jeff.

    1. Thanks, David. Hope you don’t mind that I use the word infectious with you. You used it with me… and now I feel the same about your energy and focus. Your metaphor is most appreciated. Looking forward to knowing you going forward.

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