Cold outbound email tear down
Before and after versions of 5 cold emails
There’s a mountain of advice on the internet on how to write a good cold email yet, as anyone lucky enough to be on the receiving end of endless vendor outreach will tell you, the standard remains shockingly low.
My own data supports this. I recently launched a prospecting scorecard, which over 100 sales leaders have completed and the stats are quite eye-opening:
35% don’t research prospects before reaching out to them.
56% ask for a meeting in the first email.
69% connect with fewer than 10% of the people they reach out to.
(If you haven’t taken the scorecard yet, you should do so here).
When it comes to improving your writing skills, it’s often easier to learn through reviewing examples rather than trying to apply the theory. In this post I’ve torn down 5 cold emails from my inbox, analyzed their strengths and weaknesses against best practices and rebuilt them to be more effective.
If you’d like similar feedback on your cold emails, please upgrade to a paid subscription, sign up for my office hours and I’d love to help you.
A recap of the best practices for an outbound email:
The subject line should be short enough to be scannable in a mobile inbox (40-50 characters) and spark curiosity. Avoid marketing jargon and include content from the message itself.
The body should accomplish 3 things:
Demonstrate relevance by showing you have researched your prospect’s situation and have a valid reason for reaching out. If you find yourself struggling with this it simply means your ICP is too broad.
Provide a reward by sharing a unique insight from your business that is relevant to your prospect. Avoid feature dumping and focus on impact.
Prompt for engagement by asking how the insight aligns with what they see in their business. Avoid asking for a meeting until you have a positive response. You can actually get quite far over email.
Tearing down and rebuilding 5 cold outreach emails from vendors
Vendor #1: Bliro - an AI sales assistant.
Here’s the email I received:
The quote is witty and relevant. A good attention-grabber.
The body does a succinct job of describing what the product does, which is useful because “AI sales assistant” just sounds like more AI hype.
The subject line is too long. On mobile it cuts off in the middle of “bliro”. It also doesn’t convey any of the value. Reworking the quote into the subject would be more effective.
The research is non-existent and the opening after the quote is redundant. There’s no need to say your name and who you work for, given that its already in the email header.
The reward is very generic. “Focus fully on selling” and “Reduce complexity and digitize their processes” doesn’t tell me what I get out of it.
The request is seller-centric. Asks me to try out the product instead of asking if I have the problem they solve.
How to get your reps to love Salesforce
Do your AEs and CSMs at Ethena love keeping Salesforce up to date?
(If they do, please tell me your secret!)
If they don’t, I’m guessing you are spending your evenings and weekends making sure deals are in the right stages to drive the forecast, chasing down reps for next steps on key deals and listening to calls to give your product team useful feedback.
Bliro can help give you your evenings and weekends back and make your team love you. We summarize your calls, create next steps and update your CRM so that the admin takes care of itself you and your team can focus on selling.
Curious, how much of this problem resonates with you?
Vendor #2: Hyper Comply - software to automate security questionnaires.
Here’s the email I received. Its actually quite good:
The subject is good in that it speaks to the problem they solve. The use of an emoji is a bit odd given you’d expect a security compliance solution to have a more serious tone.
While they haven’t done research and personalized the messaging to me, the opening is strong because it demonstrates empathy for the problem my team faces with security questionnaires. This type of approach works because answering security questionnaires is a universal problem for software companies.
The reward is good because it focuses on the impact (speed + accuracy) more how it actually works.
The main issue with the reward is that the companies referenced are not immediately relevant. Arrow Electronics is a public company, Chili Piper is quite a bit bigger and I’ve never heard of Fivos Health. Citing specific logos is always a bit of a crap shoot. It’s more powerful to use an insight shared by all your customers instead.
Navigating security questionnaires at Ethena
Filling out your prospect’s security questionnaire is a huge time sink for your sales reps. They’re long, repetitive and one wrong answer can easily push the close date into next quarter.
HyperComply removes this burden from your team. Sales reps upload their questionnaires, wait for a ping for final review and are off to the races in under a day with high accuracy.
How much of this problem are you seeing at Ethena?
Vendor #3: Custom Outbound - a cold outreach lead generation agency.
I get a LOT of solicitations from outsourced SDR firms and am always surprised how bad they are given cold outreach is literally their metier. However, this is one of the better ones: