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5 Lessons from Cold-Calling to Improve Your Sales Emails

Cold emailing by its very nature doesn’t convert well. It makes sense given that you are sending an unsolicited sales pitch. The statistics for cold calling aren’t much better. However, most veteran marketers believe cold calling is far from a wasted effort if you approach a call with the right strategy. A lot of these strategies can be carried over to cold emailing. You’re just applying the spoken word in a written format.

1. The 3-Second Proposition

Some cold callers recommend cutting straight to the chase. Their reasoning is this: if you can’t get them curious about your product or service within three seconds, then they’ll be thinking of an excuse to decline or hang up.

The same applies to cold-emails. If you fail to capture their interest within the first three seconds of text, they aren’t going to bother reading the rest.

So how do you go about this? Here are two examples of an opening paragraph in a sales email that readers can read in about three seconds’ time:

Hi [recipient’s name],

This is [your name] from ABC SEO Marketing. We’re doing a 24-hour promotion where the first 20 people who respond to this email will get two free ghostwritten articles for their blog.


Hi [recipient’s name]

This is [your name] from Natural Fitness. Our team just discovered a natural mineral that has been scientifically proven to boost metabolism by 20%. Discover the implications this has for your fitness goals.

Once you captured their attention with a 3-second proposition like the one above, then the rest of the email can explain your main product and sales pitch in greater depth.

2. Send a Cold Email to Yourself

Beginning sales callers are often advised to perform a mock sales call conversation while recording the session. When they review the dialogue, they can get a feel for where improvements need to be made. They will know, for instance, if they came off as nervous, were stuttering, or came off as too pushy. You can also have peers review the conversation.

Of course, you have the luxury of not having to speak in an email. Still, recipients can get the general idea of your tone through your written pitch. Write several email pitches and send it to yourself as if you were the recipient. As you read your own sales pitch, do you feel inclined to click the link and learn more? Or do you feel like you just wasted two precious minutes of your time? It’s important that you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and question the tone of voice and general attitude of the pitch. Otherwise, you’re just proof-reading your own work.

After several trials, you’ll come up with a tone and style of writing that is just write for your target demographic.

3. Admit Your Email Is Annoying

Many cold callers begin the conversation with a courtesy question, such as:

  • How are you today?
  • Is this a good time to talk?
  • I was wondering if you might be interested in …

While this is a well-intended attempt at being polite, more often than not, it ends up aggravating the customer. The “How are you today?” question, for example, is annoying because they know you don’t really care how they’re doing and are just using it as a lead-in to rant about your product.

For this reason, some callers opt instead for an opening statement, such as:

  • Is this a bad time to talk?
  • Did I catch you at a bad moment?
  • I don’t mean to interrupt you, but do you have a minute?

The questions above are perceived as more upfront and refreshing because at least you’re acknowledging that you’re being somewhat of a thorn. The recipient may respond to you or in his head like this:

It’s always a bad time to talk, but sure, I’ll spare a minute

Cold emailing isn’t found to be as intrusive because the receiver can always opt to not open the email. Nevertheless, you can open your email in a following fashion. Some examples to consider include:

  • You’re probably annoyed with my emails by now, but I really wanted to share this
  • I know I’m starting to sound like a snake-oil salesman with my numerous emails, but this is worth checking out

Again, you’re acknowledging that you’re being a nuisance, which helps the reader open up to what you have to say. The opening statement can precede the 3-second proposition statement mentioned earlier.

4. Sales Pitching Comes Second

Your email is ultimately a sales pitch, though that doesn’t mean it has to come off as one. The problem with making a pitch is that it’s all too obvious what your ulterior motive is. Instead of immediately introducing product X or service Y, cold callers are advised to make the conversation about the person.

People like to talk about themselves, so ask questions to get the prospect to open up. This should comprise the bulk of the email. Hold off the sales pitch until the last paragraph.

Here is an example of a prospect-centric email for a weight loss supplement:

Hi [recipient’s name]

This is [your name] from Natural Fitness. Our team just discovered a natural mineral that has been scientifically proven to boost metabolism by 20%. Discover the implications this has for your fitness goals.

What would it mean to you if you can lose an extra 5 or 10 pounds by the end of this month? Yes, we know that sounds airy fairy, but what if it were true? We believe this is a reality thanks to the innovation of science.

Think about achieving that perfect beach-body in a safe and permanent manner. How would it make you feel to have friends and family compliment how great you look and ask you how you did it?

Your efforts in the gym likely yielded little in the way of desirable results. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.

The sample above begins with a quick proposition that captures the reader’s attention. The rest asks questions or makes statements that gets the reader thinking about the possibilities of achieving a long-desired outcome. Nowhere does it mention anything about a weight loss supplement; you save that for the closing statement along with the call-to-action.

5. Be Confident

Cold calling and cold emailing have this in common more than anything else: the caller/sender has to be confident in his delivery. It’s all the same whether the message is in spoken or written conversation. When you’re confident, every element from the tone to the precision will fall into place more naturally, and that is something recipients will pick up on.

As with cold calling, cold emailing is a skill. There will be a lot of refining and tweaking, but you’ll eventually find that sweet spot that elicits an optimal click-through rate.


Liz Westwood from UK on April 23, 2020:

It's interesting to get an insight into some cold calling techniques.