The Cold Email Template that Got 1 B2B Startup Over 50 New Leads

One of my recent B2B clients offered a great service to SaaS companies, but they HourglassSeeds-300x183weren’t having much luck doing outbound email. They already had a list of contacts, but their cold email response rates were hovering around zero.

They asked me for help improving their outbound emails, and after working together we were able to create an email template that saw 28% response rates, bringing them more than 50 new leads from a single email template.

What Was Wrong With Their Email Templates Before?

Once I saw their email templates, I knew what was wrong almost immediately.

  1. They were way too long, mentioning too much information about themselves. No one wants to read long paragraphs in a cold email.
  2. They were selling too hard, too early. You can’t sell yourself in a cold email. You can’t build enough trust in a cold email to close a sale, so don’t try. All you want the reader to do is get them to click a link or respond to you to schedule a call.
  3. They talked about themselves too much. You need to explain who you are and why you’re emailing someone, but you shouldn’t drone on about yourself. The reader doesn’t care who you are or what you do. They care about things that are valuable to them. Things that save them time or money, make them more money, or reduce risk are interesting to them. You aren’t.
  4. There was nothing specific to the reader. There was absolutely no indication that this wasn’t a mass email. If you want people to treat you like a robot you can write vague and impersonal emails to them, but you’re not going to get many responses from these emails.

The Elements You Need to Craft Great Cold Email Copy

As I mentioned in a previous post, you should be focusing 80% of your efforts on crafting your subject line. The other 20% of your time should go to crafting the body of your cold emails. Pay attention to these points if you want to turn cold emails into customers:

  1. Brevity: Cold emails should be short and sweet. Cut out jargon and irrelevant information. Aim for about 4 sentences or less.
  2. Be Valuable: You won’t get responses if you aren’t relevant to your reader and relevant to the subject of your email. Writing great emails requires understanding your reader and what matters to them. Why should the reader care about you or your company if you don’t offer them value? Do some research on your prospects and talk to existing customers if possible to understand what’s most important to them.
  3. Personalization: The more you can customize the email around the reader (their company, their industry, etc), the more opens and responses you will have. This takes some work, but it really pays off. (Note: this is a great task to outsource to someone doing your lead research.) You should use custom inserts to mention their name or company name several times in the email to appeal to their subconscious. If your contact list is already narrowly targeted, include as much specific relevant language and information as you can in the email, like industry facts. We’ve seen that specifically mentioning their competition in your template using a single sentence like “Our software recently helped <<Competitor Name>> increase their sales by 22%” as a custom insert can increase response rates by 32%. It’s extra work, but it definitely works.
  4. Intrigue: Catch their interest, but leave enough mystery to always leave them wanting more. The purpose of the subject was just to get them to read your email, and the body’s purpose is compel them to respond. You don’t need to sell them (in fact you shouldn’t in the early emails!); you just need to get them to talk to you.
  5. Call to Action: Always have a simple and clear call to action. You don’t want it to be complicated or make your reader think too much because that gives them more reasons to say no. When cold emailing, your only goal is to get them to click on a link or schedule a call; nothing more. Everything in your email has been leading up to the call to action, so don’t screw it up by making it unclear or complicated. Finish strong.

Example of the cold email that got 28% response rate from 183 B2B companies:

emailblog

Why was this successful?

  1. The subject line was relevant to the recipient and had clear value (getting more customers). It had an open rate of 67%.
  2. The potential value of the hack to increase said company’s conversion rate is both enticing and intriguing.
  3. The name of the recipient and company were listed multiple times.
  4. The mentioning of the specific SaaS company acted as a potential competitor, and created a sense of urgency and loss aversion in the reader, as well as credibility.
  5. The call to action was very clear.
  6. A 15 minute call is also a low risk commitment for a high potential value.

What happens if I don’t get responses after my first try? Keep Testing! Keep trying! Sending your prospects outbound emails isn’t something you do once. Follow up more and your response rate will continue to grow.  Sometimes a prospect won’t respond until the 7th email or even later. Each followup email you send is a chance for you to iterate and improve your cold emailing skills by testing new subject lines, pitches, timing, and the sequences of your email followups (cold emailing is never a one-off).

If you’d like a team of experts to manage this process for you, contact LeadGenius for a free demo.

Heather R Morgan is a writer and consultant who helps B2B startups improve their copy to get more customers. You can contact her at Heather@salesfolk.com 

7 risks B2B companies should avoid with in-house sales prospecting

Building a sales development team from scratch is a difficult and costly process.  Because the ability to fill your pipeline with leads is crucial to your business’ health, it should not be taken lightly. While it makes sense for some larger companies like Adroll to build in-house teams, not all companies are at a point where they can afford the turnover of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs).  Before you decide to build your company’s sales development team in-house and hire SDRs you should first consider these 7 risks.

1. Your Opportunity Cost:

Using SDRs to prospect takes their valuable time away from closing. Outbound prospecting is a long and tedious task that distracts your sales team from executing higher-level work that directly drives revenue. When you target prospects with more than 100 employees it takes 2-4 weeks or longer to develop a new qualified opportunity. Your account executives will close fewer deals if they are busy prospecting. By using sales ineffectively, you will need to hire more salespeople to close the same number of deals as a focused account executive.

Paying SDRs isn’t cheap, so it’s important to utilize their time wisely. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary SDRs in the United States is around $58,000. It takes about 1-3 months for inside account executives to be fully trained and ramped up, and up to 6-18 months for enterprise account executives. With base pay around $58,000/year for SDRs, your company is spending between $5000-$14,000 on getting each SDR up to speed, not to mention other resources you spend on training them. The national median for enterprise account executive base salary is around $170,000, so you can similarly assume your company spends between $85,000 to $255,000 on an employee ramping up with enterprise sales. Unfortunately sales reps have high turnover in B2B sales. Many B2B salespeople stay in the same position 2 years or less, so it’s difficult to recoup the cost of training and ramp up time, and that’s assuming your hire works out.

2. Juggling Makes You Sloppy:

Having your salespeople juggle too many types of tasks makes them less effective. Aaron Ross, author ofPredictable Revenue, suggests that lumping sales functions together makes metrics like conversion rates and customer success rates murkier. Aaron suggests that your account executives should prospect as little as possible and should never spend more than 20% of their time on prospecting.

If your reps’ goals are unclear and excessive it’s unlikely that they will meet their targets. When this happens regularly it’s difficult to maintain accountability. This also makes it harder to resolve problems because the root cause cannot be easily discerned because there are too many variables.

3. You’re Tarnishing Your Company’s Image:

You want new prospects to see your company as knowledgeable and experienced, but using new SDRs may give the opposite impression. Having untrained sales reps be your company’s first point of contact can result in embarrassment.

There are a hundred ways for reps to turn a potential customer off of your company: long and rambling emails, inept conversations, lack of industry knowledge, and a weak understanding of your product’s benefits. Without proper training and support for prospecting, new reps can make lots of mistakes that will make your prospects think your company is inexperienced.

4. You’re Missing Out on the Bigger Market:

Few experienced sales reps love prospecting. They find it tedious, and usually do a terrible job at it, missing out on much of the market. According to Aaron Ross, reps often don’t go deep enough, hitting 100 accounts only once when they should be contacting 10 prospects 10 times each in order to increase success rates. Giving up too easily on prospects loses clients that could have been won by “pleasant persistence.”

If your business is still somewhat small, your human capital constraints will prevent your in-house prospecting team from scaling quickly, leaving you with a smaller market share. Unless you can afford an army of in-house sales reps to rapidly scale, you should consider more affordable alternatives to capture quality leads. Getting hundreds of hand-picked leads of decision makers verified by humans in your target industries is invaluable for scaling. Doing just that, a growing HR SaaS company saw more leads and got more customers than ever before, with a 1300% increase in leads in only 12 months.

5. You’re Wasting Time with Bad Data:

If you’re buying lead lists, most of the data you’re getting is outdated or low quality. More than 34% of those contacts you purchased may be unusable, and much of the list is often poorly targeted. By using inaccurate data from the start, you waste your sales team’s time by contacting the wrong people and hitting communication dead ends. Instead of reaching the decision maker, your reps are calling or emailing someone who hasn’t worked at that company in over a year.

6. You Have So Much to Learn in So Little Time:

Building a prospecting team from scratch is a time consuming process, and scaling up takes even more work to systemize your processes. Hiring and training your prospectors requires sales leadership and extensive planning to develop consistency. You cannot build a scalable process while using the “sink or swim” approach to train your new hires.

It’s easy to miss important subtleties when you’re new to prospecting like knowing:

  1. How to write effective email copy
  2. How to know the best time to send emails
  3. How to create drip email campaigns
  4. How to write emails that are short enough but not too short
  5. How often to follow up with prospects
  6. How to use the right tone/attitude as to avoid seeming too pushy, threatening or “salesy”
  7. How to pick the right person to contact
  8. How to find out why prospects aren’t interested in your product or service
  9. How to not give up too easily
  10. How to always set up a next step with every point of contact

Missing the mark in these areas will lose you leads if you don’t devote enough time to learning sales best practices. It’s much easier to use people who already have experience with outbound funnels to manage the process for you instead of starting from scratch.

7. You’re Losing Out on Deals!

You could have already gotten more deals through your sales pipeline if you hadn’t wasted so much time figuring out how to build your prospecting team. Start outsourcing your prospecting now, and stop missing out on deals!

Although building in-house prospecting teams can be a practical solution for large companies, chances are you don’t have the budget to withstand the turnover of SDRs if you’re a smaller company.  Smaller companies can reduce the risk and cost of build a prospecting team by relying on outsourced prospecting solutions instead.

Using outsourced prospecting services can help you ramp up your sales cost-effectively. By using a combination of automation, human intelligence and smart data, LeadGenius can provide you with your own on-demand prospecting team to accelerate your sales. With flexible pricing models, LeadGenius has the plan you need to start scaling your sales growth today.

Cold email outreach best practices from around the web

“Not another tips and tricks list!”

There’s no shortage of email tips and tricks. Lists abound all over the internet. Even the narrowly-defined activity of initial email outreach has long lists of advice.

Rather than rehash all the advice that’s out there, here’s a table.

It illustrates what’s helpful, what’s harmful, and what doesn’t make much of a difference either way.

Initial Email Outreach Practices: Best, Worst, and Indifferent


emailtable 

Most of this is common sense, but did you know…?
  1. Emails with 28-39 characters in the subject line had the highest click rates. (Litmus)
  2. Statistically people will decided within 2 seconds whether an email is worth reading. (SmartInsights)
  3. 89% of consumers would delete an email on mobile that doesn’t look good. (KISSmetrics)
  4. On average, our response rate increases by 50% when we follow up to an unanswered cold email. (Life-long Learner)
 
Good example – Here’s an example using some best practices.

sampleemail

Bad example – Follow the example below to ensure poor response.

bademail

Conclusion

Short, clear emails are effective. They should be personal and specific. Use the table above and the links below as your reference for writing initial outreach emails.

Sources

Many thanks to the following excellent sources of information:

Econsultancy KISSmetrics Mailchimp
Marketing Land Smart Insights The YouMoz Blog
Yesware Business Insider Ling-long Learner

And big recognition to Litmus for their comprehensive subject-line infographic.