Growth Path
Growth Path
How to Write a Cold Email 📬

How to Write a Cold Email 📬

This episode is a 28-minute listen. The notes are a 4-min read. Subscribe here.

Featuring Jesse Hunt

📝 Notes: 


  • It can be unnerving to put yourself out there to ask for business, money, time.

  • Many posts & blogs say, "do this, don't do that," but cold outreach can be exciting, creative, and effective. 

  • It's important to learn the basics: what is a cold email, how do they work, and what are some different frameworks. 

Content, Copy & Packaging: 

  • Think of a beautiful letter (e.g., hand-written, pretty color) → earns the right to take up 30 seconds of your day. 

  • Similarly, with email, the packaging is the subject line – and many people discount it.

  • The subject line is like a welcome mat --> helps the recipient feel more comfortable and engaged with what you are positioning. 

  • A poorly crafted subject line (e.g., "Re: ____") is more likely to go to spam. It also annoys people. Don't trick your recipients into opening an email → nobody likes to feel tricked; taking shortcuts with underhanded tactics won't work in the long term. 

  • Buyers buy with emotion and justify with rationale. 

When to personalize vs. not:

  • It's common to "tier your accounts" --> to determine which accounts could have a high yield (opportunities created).

  • For some accounts, you will target specific individuals with a high level of customization. Other accounts and individuals go into a "batch & blast" process (less customized but still familiar). 

Subject lines

  • Ideal to do a personalized email subject line whenever possible (e.g., "Wouldn't it be great if you could clone [former top employee name]?")

  • Review the person's footprint (e.g., blog, bio) and include a reference in the subject line or email. 

  • Typical open rates: depends on the campaign and situation —> hard to generalize.

What to do if someone isn't responding:

  • Show empathy (e.g., "I'm guessing you're slammed right now.”)

  • Keep it short (so you don't annoy them). 

  • Ask a question they can respond to quickly if interested (e.g., "any thoughts here?"). 

  • Change the subject line of the email thread mid-communication (e.g., "Given up?") followed with a concise email (e.g., "Have you given up on this project?") → nobody likes to give up. 

Body of the email  

  • Keep the body of the email short → If you write a long email, you ask for a time commitment before you've earned the right to ask for their time. 

  • Test the emails on yourself first (e.g., to see how many scrolls it requires on the phone). 

  • 3x3 research: in three minutes, you should be able to find three pieces of relevant information about a contact or account (e.g., recent funding, hire, product release) → try to get that research into the email. 

  • Know to whom you are selling (e.g., only use sales jargon with people in sales). 

  • The tone should be respectful, personal, and authentic (senior leaders get dozens of emails daily - they can sniff out BS). 

Emails vs. Calls: 

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses - "sales is a brutal sport - need to know what you are good at" – if you are great at talking to people, you may do better on calls. If you are a strong writer, you may do better on emails. 

  • Split testing/AB Testing: may do 50 cold calls and 50 emails and compare the yield. 

  • Introverts do very well in sales - don't assume you need to be extroverted.

How to avoid burnout: 

  • Cold outreach can be exhausting, lonely & filled with rejection. 

  • Even the best reps face more rejection than acceptance. 

  • Stay close to your manager. Let them know when you feel overburdened or need a break → that is what the team is for. 

  • Try to make it fun - even if people say no, find the relevant information. 

Common mistakes

  • Pitch slapping - connecting with someone & immediately afterward pitching a product or service → scorched-earth tactic and sloppy; bad for sales community in general. 

  • Taking too long to get to the point → don't talk too much about yourself. Just explain how you are going to help the buyer solve a problem.

  • Don't use an overly formal tone; okay to use conjunctions. 

Interest-focused CTAs & Empathy

  • Your call-to-action (aka CTA) matters.

  • An interest-focused CTA (e.g., "are you interested in meeting?") tends to perform better than a time-focused CTA (e.g., "can I have 15 minutes of your time?"). Time is finite & interest is infinite. 

  • Better to come from a "consultative" approach vs. "I want to talk to you." Try to present something valuable to the buyer (e.g., "are you interested in solving those problems"?). It's a subtle difference and makes it about the other person.

  • Empathy is a core skill set in sales. Avoid using personal pronouns like "I" and "me." It makes it about you, not the buyer. 

📇 Glossary: 

  • Tiering your accounts: determining which accounts could have a high yield. 

  • Yield: opportunities created, meetings set out of the outreach set 

  • Split testing (aka A/B Testing): a controlled experiment aimed at improving a specific metric

  • 3x3 research: three minutes for three relevant pieces of research 

  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): the type of company or customer who would most benefit from your product or service 

  • CISO: Chief Information Security Officer 

  • Pitch slapping: a near-instant sales pitch for a product before the need or a connection is established

  • Scorched-earth tactic: a last-ditch attempt 

📇 Further Study:

Did we miss something? Have a great tip or trick about cold emails? Please leave a comment below! 👇

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