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The Art of the Cold Email

Cold emailing is one of the most difficult sales communications to pull off. Why? For starters, you have no history or connection with your audience, no real way of knowing what may resonate with them. Second, because you lack a relationship with this person you’re missing out on non-verbal feedback, so you can’t modify your approach in the moment of the pitch.

But when a cold email is done right, it works well. Heather R. Morgan, founder of Salesfolk, built her entire Silicon Valley startup on cold emails.

“In the last 10 years, I’ve written a least one ‘cold email’ a day, adding up to more than 10,000 cold emails that have gotten thousands of responses in total. I’ve used these emails to reach out and start conversations with CEOs, industry thought leaders, award-winning authors and even celebrities, without having any previous connections with them at all,” says Morgan.

Whatever the goal of your cold email may be, it is important to understand there is an art to creating one. Check out these five tips on creating the perfect cold email for starting conversations, building rapport and creating opportunities:

Personalization is Key

As a writer, I receive a lot of cold emails asking me to check out blogs, write a review for a product or promote a new eBook. Most of them make a generic comment about something they saw on my LinkedIn page and then they dive straight into a canned speech about why I should do them a favor.  That, my friends, is not a way to personalize a cold email — it takes a little more research than that.

First, establish who you are writing your email to. Second, research your audience and take notes. Learn about their hobbies, interests, what types of content they share on social networks and anything else you can learn about them. Once you’ve developed of sense of who they are as a person, you can make it clear why you are emailing them as opposed to someone else. By showing you’ve done your research and have built an outline where they fit in, you can create a story that makes sense to the reader.

Build Credibility

It’s important to remember that you’re the stranger here. You may theoretically know a lot about them, but when they open your email they won’t know anything about you. If you have a mutual friend, build rapport on that connection in a line or two. If you lack status, find a commonality — this is where your research can come in handy. The intention is to find a way to go from a stranger to a part of the recipient’s group.

Solve Their Problems

Why should someone take the time to care enough to open your email? What is in it for them? One of the key things to remember when crafting your cold email is that your main objective is to prove you can solve their problem.

People will go out of their way to avoid pain rather than seeking a way to acquire pleasure. Using this framework and your research, highlight the ways you can address and solve their issues. If you can’t solve their problem, offer them an introduction to someone who can — this stands out, as most people won’t give before they’re asked.

Keep it Simple

At the end of the day, the absolute last thing I want to do is read a long-winded email trying to sell me something. Keep your email short and sweet. Your emails should be a maximum of seven sentences, with the sweet spot hovering around three to five. Keeping your email focused on the core idea or benefit is the key to keeping your reader’s attention, which will make them more likely to respond.

Get the Response

Finally, your email needs to end with a very clear call to action (CTA). Your CTA should create an obvious next step to your reader, and why they should respond to you. Instead of a weak “Let’s talk sometime”, try for a stronger question that addresses their pain once again. For example, “When can we have a quick 15 minute call to discuss how you can fix your collaboration needs at [Company]?” A teaser of how you can possibly address their pain will hook your recipient into wanting to learn more about your proposal rather than a blasé request for a call back.

Cold emails truly are a work of art. It takes practice and skill to craft the perfect formula for each recipient. But, by using our tips as a starting point and your knowledge of your industry and target audience, you’re already ahead of the competition.

About Andrea Duke

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