Avoid PDFs in Cold Email Templates. Always.

I’m not going to try to persuade you. Instead, I’ll just share my experience — observing hundreds of successful sellers. If you want to get more conversations started “from cold,” avoid including links and/or PDFs in your “first touch” email. Here’s why and what to do instead.

Customer-First Email MarketingI’m not going to try to persuade you. Instead, I’ll just share my experience — observing hundreds of successful sellers. If you want to get more conversations started “from cold,” avoid including links and/or PDFs in your “first touch” email.

Here’s why and what to do instead.

PDFs Are the Devil

Don’t attach PDFs or any literature to your cold email. I have yet to meet anyone who articulates “the why” behind my recommendation better than Scott Britton, co-founder of Troops, a sales productivity tool. If you’re in marketing … get ready. This might jar you a bit. But keep an open mind.

“A PDF should never be able to explain the value or merits of your product within a specific context as well as you can. So why send a deck and let a static document do the selling instead of you?” asks Mr. Britton.

Key words here are “within a specific context.” Our job as sales people is to apply content within context. So if you have a white paper, report, infographic, whatever … effective use means applying it in context of the “buying journey.”

This requires your assessment of the context — first. Everything else is just pushing information at someone who doesn’t want it.

Remember: Customers value more what they ask for — less what you offer them. Thus, help the right customers develop an urge to ask.

But here’s the most important reason to not include your PDF — no matter what it contains.

“If they’re not into (motivated by) your offering after reviewing their deck, there is literally no reason to hop on a call with you,” says Mr. Britton.

Need I say more?

As Scott says, “Don’t take yourself out of play, own the sale.”

Because if you rely on that PDF, well, you are all but giving up. You are also just like 95 percent of sales people out there. You’re not at the top of your game.

Don’t Rush: How to Apply Case Studies

It’s common to use case studies in cold emails, as attachments. But the goal of your first email is not to earn purchase consideration, nor a meeting. It is to earn a reply. Period.

Thus, your goal is not to get prospects to read the case study PDF. They don’t want your case. Because they’re not interested in qualifying you (yet). They’re not in a discussion (yet) that would cause them to want to qualify you.

The goal is to get them to talk with you — about how their goals, fears or burning desires. Then assess if they’re interested in qualifying you, at which time you can offer a case.

Be confident. Don’t rush to show. Get them hooked on the provocation. Once they’ve asked you for what’s in your PDF they’ve opened the door. Otherwise you’re just busting through the door saying, “hey, read this!” like every other sellers is.

Think of it like a first date: The more you promote what you want, the less you’ll get it. The more you allow them to respond and discuss, the more you’ll get it.

Get Into the Conversation — Now

Quick example from a client I’m working with: The goal of their first touch email is to get into conversation about potential clients’ trade shows. But many sellers on their team feel urges. They want to rush the conversation by including case study PDFs on first touch.

We developed a provocative approach, asking the potential client, “Are you open to a different way of attracting decision-makers to your booth? I have an idea for you.”

Rather than asking for a meeting, or if they’re interested in talking about an upcoming trade show, we conclude the email with, “How are you currently earning meeting commitments from prospects prior to the event?”

Because this is the conversation we want to be in! This is the “slow go” type of approach I’m referring to. Ask for the discussion — not for the meeting or the qualification (reading your PDF).

But many sellers on my client’s team felt an urge to add:

“I can send you the case study/testimonial of our client who increased their qualified traffic by 90 percent.”

Do you see how this pushes rather than pulls? It promotes. Instead, consider attracting that conversation to you. Tempt the prospect to ask you for the case.

Why do we do this? Why to we rush the conversation? Because you feel you should. Why? Because you’re worried — what you’ve said in the email is not going to be enough. Be confident. Don’t attach PDFs or any literature to your cold email. A PDF should never be able to explain the value or merits of your product within a specific context as well as you can.

What is your experience? I’m open to hearing it.