Published by Rachel Williams - July 31, 2018

How to write cold emails that convert

Selling your sales meeting is more important than ever before.

Knowing when it’s time to break up

Creating cold emails that convert prospects to schedule the first meeting is a lot like getting a first date. You need to capture your potential date’s interest in a crowded “market,” engage in a personal way to even stand a chance for that first date and show that you’re the real deal.

To get your prospect’s attention in the first place, personalization is key, but there are a few other tricks to make your message stand out among the hundreds of cold emails your prospect is likely receiving each day. Yes, hundreds. The average email user gets 147 messages every day. And the challenges don’t stop there—business is changing and so is the way your prospects manage their emails. You can almost guarantee your email (if ever opened) will be read in the elevator or in line at Starbucks.

As part of our Sales Playbook Series, I’m sharing our eight best tips to make sure your cold emails build a strong foundation and convert.

1. Focus on what keeps your prospect up at night

Map out what your prospect cares about, including common pain points and what resonates with them. And don’t be afraid to get personal. If you know they are a sales manager, talk about your perception of their goals and the high pressure they are under to make sure their team is meeting those goals. You can even go as far to say that you understand if their team doesn’t achieve its goals, their job as manager could be on the line. After all of that, introduce your solution and convince them that joining the call with you is one step closer to eliminating these problems and reaching their goals.

When pitching a meeting, understanding your prospect’s pain is the first step before they even consider giving you their time.

2. Skip the cheesy (subject) lines

The first step to conversion is getting your prospect to actually open your cold email. With crowded inboxes, most sales reps don’t even make it that far. 77% of sales emails are never opened. Don’t do what every other rep is doing and try to come up with a super creative subject line—for most, that’s just noise. Instead, create a subject line that’s really targeted to your prospect’s needs and tie back your solution to focus on those needs.

3. Cut to the chase

As a B2B sales rep, you understand one major commonality of your prospects regardless of industry: they don’t have a lot of time. So why waste their already limited time with fluff and formalities? Do that and you’re already off to a bad start. Avoid the “how are you doing?” and “hope this email finds you well” language because it doesn’t matter to you or your prospect. Get to the point and they’ll appreciate that you’re respecting their time. Knowing that mobile is becoming a top way business professionals engage, you need to make sure your email is easily scannable.

4. Lead them to convert

To optimize chances of conversion from a cold email, use only one call-to-action which, in this case, is to schedule a call. A meeting scheduling software for sales teams that automatically connects with your business calendar to detect your availability allows you to offer this availability to your prospect in an email. Without a scheduling tool, you risk engaging in the typical “When are you available?” back and forth, which could lead to an unnecessary exchange of emails that makes it likely to lose them.

Pro tip: Using a CTA like “Let’s schedule a call to chat more about this.” with your scheduling page linked helps to capture your prospect’s attention while they’re interested. I also like locking down how far out they can schedule by only offering the next 5 days since my goal is to get a meeting scheduled as soon as possible.

BONUS: Let’s put these tips into practice!

Say you’re looking to sell to sales professionals. Based on the list your marketing team gave you, you know they are sales managers of teams of 10 or more within a software company. Through additional research of the audience, you know that sales managers have a few things in common: 1) they want their team to be more efficient and spend the majority of their time selling and 2) they need to empower their team to meet their quota or else their job could be on the line. Here’s an example cold email using all the insights and tips in this blog:

Subject line: Your reps spend 67% of their day NOT selling—I’m here to help

Your team is spending too much time on admin work, which doesn’t leave much time for selling. It’s risky for you if you don’t meet quota, so you need to empower reps with tools to make their work day more efficient. More selling = more money for your entire organization, and it also helps to get your boss off your back.

I’d love to learn more about your needs before sharing how (X solution) would fit into your team’s workflow and help your reps spend more than 70% of their day selling. Book a time for a consultative discovery call this week (insert scheduling link).

5. Make it personal (but only if it’s relevant)

Instead of personalizing based on things that aren’t relevant to your reason for reaching out—like knowing your prospect lives in New York and bringing up how nice it is this time of year or knowing they graduated from UNC and mentioning their latest basketball win over Duke—focus on their business needs and what matters to them in their role. A little research can go a long way towards getting your prospect to convert to schedule a meeting. 

6. Answer ‘What’s in it for me?’

Whether your intent is to get your prospect on a discovery call or go straight into a demo, this first email is your best chance to sell that meeting. Why would they spend 20-30 minutes of their time with you? If you’ve done your research and understand their persona, you can tell them how your call is going to bring them closer to achieving X goal that you’ve identified. After all, hitting their goal is what truly matters to them.

7. Offer credibility

Powerful statistics and relevant content that show your expertise go a long way in a cold email. It shows you’ve done your research and have empathy for your prospect and their situation. You need to position yourself as an expert on their role before they will even think about speaking to you.

8. Don’t sell yourself short

Saying things like, “I only need 5 minutes of your time.” isn’t always ideal. While your prospect is busy and you want to recognize that, this approach is really just cheapening your service and the value a call with you will bring them. Incorporating a line like, “To do this right, we’ll need 20 minutes to discuss how (X solution) meets your specific needs.” helps to show the value of the call.

Enjoyed this post? Our Sales Playbook Series offers proven strategies and free takeaways to help sales teams implement true consultative selling practices to meet their quota and then some while building better relationships with prospects:

19 responses to “How to write cold emails that convert”

  1. Thanks for this! Very good advice. If I got more emails following these guidelines, I’d certainly be more inclined to pay attention.

  2. Anton van Rhyn says:

    Check out if you’d like help getting cold outreach done for you. We follow these guidelines and generate a ton of leads for clients.

  3. Liz Dederer says:

    Love this! I could not agree more! No one wants to be sold to, yet people need to buy! Sounds perfectly in alignment with our motto at Selling With Service – #stopbeingweird 😉

  4. Patrick says:

    I love that this is so straightforward. I *try* to write emails for my uncle, who is a business owner ( But I leave alot to be desired. This is a nice outline for me to follow. Thanks, Rachel!

  5. DJ AFINO says:

    excellent advice

  6. Kichi says:

    Good Stuff

  7. That’s significant tips for getting first meeting appointment. We are doing it for our corporate day outing business , where its very important to write a great email to get their attention since other players in the market do the same. So to stand out of the box, we write our mails after intensive research about the clients requirements. For this we go for finding as you have mentioned the pain point of the client. Once we find that we target by providing different available solution addressing their concern in a very personalised way. Here you can find more information

  8. Emily says:

    As a Virtual Assistant I need to start sending out some of these e-mails to local businesses. Thanks for the outline!

  9. Stan says:

    Thanks for sharing! We at also use some of these techniques and I must say that really helps! Especially the last one -> Don’t sell yourself too short! Be on the same eye level with your clients, and they will respect you!



  10. Wajahath Ali says:

    Thanks for sharing this email template Rachel. You have covered all the points on the structure of a cold email. I also write about email marketing on my blog

    Important Point:

    Personalisation makes the difference.
    Research on your prospect makes the difference.

    Many times I see that People resort to sending emails without even noticing anything about the prospect nor the business and they do not get the results.

    It is often a point of Quality VS Quantity

    You cannot send thousands of cold emails everyday and expect an answer because then you would become a known Spammer.

    However If you can research and personalise your email then you can expect replies and will not be considered as Spammer..always go for Quality.

    Thanks Rachel for this wonderful post.

  11. Necho Smith says:

    Thank you

  12. Great, practical tips! Having the right brand message and statement makes all the difference. Make sure you “tell the story” of how your product/service will help your prospects get what they want using key storytelling ingredients.

  13. Oliver Lompart says:

    Thank you, most of these are very intuitive, but it never hurts to point out the obvious – often the most important stuff. Thanks from the EventBank Team

  14. Megan Hogan says:

    I enjoyed this article – it has everything that I would expect if I wanted to pursue a cold email that landed in my inbox. Still, a catchy headline is the reason I would want to open it over hitting delete. Another point should be to change your Unsubscribe wording to Manage My Preferences. I alike many others utilise a rule to remove all the ‘unsubscribe’ emails to another folder to look at sometime later if I choose.

  15. This is helpful. We’ve long offered our SiteSwan website resellers a “cold” email script in their resources, but it’s hard to write just one that everyone can use. I’m going to try and put this in front of our whole network of resellers so they can craft their own unique cold emails. OK to pull excerpts from this into our blog? Or maybe you can help us with a customized guest blog post? Thanks!

    • Calendly says:

      Hi Justin –

      Thanks for asking! Feel free to pull excerpts from this – we just ask that you attribute Calendly and link back to this post.

      Happy to answer any further questions!

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