Some of the best business relationships start with a leap of faith.
Cold emailing and cold message channeling is vital to success in biz dev and sales. Once you get your foot in the door, you can ‘wow’ your clients with your presentation, proposals, in-person charm and social skills, but grabbing their attention for the first time is, without a doubt, the most challenging.
So how does one break through, differentiate themselves from the pack, and get a response?
Let’s get down to business. There’s plenty of time for BS, small talk and ‘shootin the shit’ at a later stage of the relationship.
No one has time to read long messages. I know I don’t. On average, I have to sift through at least 150 emails every day.
Get to the point as soon as possible. If your prospect has to spend time re-reading your pitch just to figure out what you’re asking for, you already lost.
The whole message should only be a few sentences. Any more than three or four is really pushing it. Aside from just being a pain to read, an email also gives the impression that it was taken from a template, copy/pasted with maybe a minor tweak. Not the impression you want to give on a first go with a prospect…
Rule of 3
At the maximum on the first attempt of trying to develop a prospect, I send three additional follow-ups to a single person if I don’t get a response to my initial message.
If I don’t get a response within a few days, I send the first follow-up. This one is really short and just checks to make sure that they actually received the first email i.e “I just wanted to make sure you got my original email below as I’ve been having trouble with my email lately.”
The second follow-up, usually 3-5 days after the first, includes a reminder to the recipient that they haven’t answered, while simultaneously providing them an excuse for their delayed response.
What do I mean? You don’t want to put the recipient in the position of having to apologize to you for not responding sooner. Giving them an excuse is an oddly effective way of removing the awkwardness from the introduction.
For example, in the second follow-up email I might say, “I just realized I didn’t specify we also have a US office, which would be happy to meet,” or “I know this time of year is always busy but we should definitely be doing some business together.” This way the recipient doesn’t have to explain herself when she messages back, and actually has a reason to answer back in addition to the original pitch.
The third follow-up I go all chips in. My favorite ones include what some of my colleagues have claimed I’ve patented, which is a simple “?” question mark, sometimes in bold and bigger font. That’ll get their attention.
Another good one is the still alive approach i.e. “I wanted to make sure everything is alright with you” email. Both get the point across, in different ways. After that the ball is in their court. Sending more messages at this point is likely to come across as annoying and oblivious.
Sometimes you need to show more than tell.
People don’t like to talk about it, but just a few words about the strength of your company–recent achievements, funding round, super fast growth–alters how the reader perceives your mail.
You might have a great proposition for the recipient, but if you or your company don’t have the credentials, your chances of getting a response are slim.
Name dropping always helps. Mentioning working with other companies in their field or vertical, or just being straightforward on how you have been their top competitor’s main channel of growth for the past year can go a long way.
But don’t be confused, mentioning your credentials still isn’t about you–it’s about showing the client that you’re qualified to work with them. So naturally, you should only include information that is relevant to their business and their goals.
So how do you do it? At the bottom of your email or InMail, put a sentence that includes relevant achievements and positions you in the market. As with the entire message, keep it snappy.
Write like a human…
Any biz dev professional will tell you that the key to their success is in their relationships. How do you build relationships? By communicating like a human, whether over the phone, via email or in person.
In biz dev you have to write a lot of cold and sometimes redundant mails. It comes with the occupation.
You are not writing a PR statement. Imagine you are actually meeting them face to face and shaking their hand. What would you say to them then? Certainly not something like, “We would be most humbled if you accepted our invitation to the ___ table at ShmoozeFest.”
Almost all messages I send out sound somewhat informal, and are personalized. This is not to say that every email you send should be in this style, but in most cases writing informally puts the reader at ease. They should feel comfortable writing back without thinking about it too much.
…Speaking to another human
Remember that an actual person will (hopefully) be reading your message. People have feelings, moods, phases in life, and many other things that can and will influence if and how they respond to your cold emails.
There’s no excuse to send me stale, canned messages. If you really are “excited” to meet or hear what I have to say, you shouldn’t have a hard time writing a genuine message.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your “soft” “human” email, try gathering some material from the person’s LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, YouTube lectures, or any other public source of information. That’s what it’s for. You’re not ‘stalking’ anyone by commenting that you attended business school in the same city, like the same NBA team, or enjoy similar hobbies. On the contrary, show that you’ve made some effort to learn about what the recipient does and what they stand for. Even more, send them some tips for their next trip, the best place to go diving, or a great restaurant in the area.
Look at their profile picture…do they look laid-back? Stiff? Active? The profile picture is a window into how the person sees himself, and how he wants to be seen. To increase your chances of getting a response, write to the picture.
Your Cold-mail Checklist
- Is your message short and to-the-point?
- Is this the first, second, or third message to this person?
- Are you making it easy for them to respond?
- Can the recipient tell that you’re serious?
- Does your message sound genuine?
These are just a few ways of improving your chances of getting a response. If you can get in the mind (and the inbox) of your targets, you will find yourself swimming in follow-ups and meetings, followed by some really great authentic business and even personal relationships with people you once sent a cold email to.
And, it helps to sell a good product.
What advice do you have for getting warm responses to cold emails?