A Popular, Yet Failing Cold Email Technique

It’s shocking. Sales teams across the globe are telling prospects, “You should invest in what I sell — because this research says so” and expecting to start conversations. But using research as a means to break the ice in cold email is a non-starter. Unfortunately, most sales teams are using this failing technique.

Too Many Emails - Email Marketing

Sure, this technique might work on people in the market right now. Which misses 98 percent of conversational opportunities.

Persuading clients in cold emails doesn’t work. Writing in ways that provoke a discussion that eventually helps customers convince themselves does.

Instead, Try This

It’s difficult to understand what will start a discussion with large numbers of decision makers — in a one-to-many email campaign. But instead of pushing research at them experiment to discover effective provocations using a one-to-one, tailored (personalized) campaign.

It’s easier to develop a targeted (one-to-many) campaign sequence (that works) once you have a proven tailored (one-to-one) provocation identified.

“Where you’ve had success with one-off (one-to-one) emails, try to ‘reverse-engineer’ them into email templates you can send out in bulk,” says Morgan.

I recommend exploiting case studies as a provocation method. Succinct, data-driven success stories are often a scale-able (one-to-many) communications technique to spark curiosity. For example:

“Recently, Neiman Marcus reduced IT costs by 36%. They are reinvesting this cash in new e-commerce infrastructure – driving maximum TCO. Are you open to hearing how they did this?”

“What we say about ourselves (typical Marketing stuff) is usually average at best,” says prospecting trainer John Barrows who believes what clients say is highly provocative.

“As sales professionals we need to learn about the real value we bring to our clients from their perspective and be able to share those stories to attract new ones,” he says.

Dig Up Success Stories

Don’t have case studies? No excuse. Barrows says, “Call up some of your existing clients and ask them ‘if someone were to ask you about the value you get from our solutions what would you say?’ and try to get a concrete result out of them.”

Once you do, Barrows says get to work. Start making calls to similar companies, ” … and say something like ‘The reason for my call today is we recently showed xyz company in your industry how to (results) and I wanted to see if this was something you’d be interested in talking about.'”

Bottom line: Pushing research as a conversation-starter works less and less. Telling prospects, “You should consider my solution because this research says so” is a non-starter. Pushing information at customers works far less than provoking them.

What is your experience?


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.

2 thoughts on “A Popular, Yet Failing Cold Email Technique”

  1. Jeff, you bring up some very valid points. Selling to a cold contact is extremely challenging and hitting them with a “solution” before diagnosing the “problem” is basically sales malpractice. By piquing their interest with “… are you open to hearing how they did this?” brings about a potential conversation instead of just data dumping them with “research” which is just flat out boring.

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