How to Write a Cold Email That 33% of Prospects Will Reply to

cold email tips

Cold email has earned an awful reputation. Prospects see them as a nuisance, and most just hit delete without even a casual read. As a result, open rates are plummeting. Even when the message is highly targeted, the open rate ends up being less than 10% on average. Most of us have developed a thick skin over the years as a result of the constant barrage of irrelevant emails.

Stop Being Lazy With Your Cold Email

lazy bad employee loss productivity

Not willing to settle for “status quo”, we worked hard to crack the code of email copy that would put a smile on our prospect’s face.

Our formula was not necessarily new or unique – we aimed to arouse curiosity in the subject and follow it up with a crisp and engaging body.

We pushed ourselves really hard to execute this formula to perfection.

The results of this effort were very encouraging.

More than a third of the recipients of these emails choose to reply to our cold emails, and close to 10% of those have converted into solid opportunities.

Here’s an example of a highly personalized sales email:

cold email example

So, how exactly should you write your next cold email?

Follow these 5 simple cold email steps:

  • Research your prospect
  • Map individual KPIs to their business objectives
  • Learn About The Person (Not The Persona)
  • Connect with an engaging hook
  • Empathize

1. Search & Research Your Prospect Thoroughly

The objective of our research was not just to find out about their business, but to also understand what interests the individual both professionally and personally.

In this instance, we reviewed Jack’s Twitter account and learned that he was a keen Manchester United fan. We also found out (using this clever LinkedIn hack) that he had recently been appointed as Sales Enablement Manager at a high-growth startup which had recently raised a large round of funding.

Sales Prospecting Tip: Use The “Show Me You Know Me” Approach

2. Map Individual KPIs With Their Business’ Objectives

Once we had learned about the business and the individual, we made logical assumptions and weaved them into our message.

For example, as Jack’s startup had recently raised big funding, it was safe to assume that the company was experiencing very strong sales growth.

As a Sales Enablement Leader, we knew that scalable expansion and shortening ramp-up time for new hires would probably be a key KPI for him.

At MindTickle, have seen many sales enablement leaders adopt such an approach to improve the sales process and develop new hire training.

3. Learn About The Person (Not The Persona)

Most people include personal information on their social media profiles. This gives us an idea of what their interests are so that we can connect with them on a personal level.

In this example, we knew from our social selling tactics on Twitter that Jack liked to ‘coach’ the team by live-tweeting during matches. We leveraged this information to relate his personal interests to his professional objectives:

Manchester United and sales enablement both create champions out of regular players. Each goal, each strike, each pitch, each value prop, has to be carefully honed and drilled in…

PS: I am also looking forward to the Derby match with Liverpool this weekend :-)”

4. Connect with a Hook That Brings A Smile To Their Face 🙂

None of this research and copy would matter if Jack didn’t even open our cold email. To get his attention, we crafted a hook that would make him curious, just like we would at a networking event.

In this example for instance, we connected his new role with his love of football:

Why a Man Utd fan is the best fit for sales enablement”

As a result, Jack not only opened the email, but he also gave us an opening in his calendar.

Recommended Read: 23 Email Subject Lines to Spur Action

5. Empathize

Rather than jumping into a left-brain pitch of why our product is superior, we chose to paint a picture of what we can help him accomplish.

We sprinkled credibility on top by calling out recognizable names of companies that had investors or locations in common with Jack’s company. Everyone needs a little reassurance even from someone they don’t know….yet.


We’ve been refining these practices over the past year and our cold email open rates have consistently improved. Even when the timing has not been right, the friendly responses to our cold emails have been heartwarming. But don’t just take my word for it, try it for yourself and watch your open and conversion rates improve out of sight too.

Editors Note: Guest Post by Mohit Garg, co-founder and chief customer officer of MindTickle.

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    • Thanks Mohit! Great article.

    • I love the empathize section. Couldn’t agree more!

    • Great insight, I can’t think of an example where “more research” was a bad idea. Thanks for the reminder.

    • By far the best advice on selling with Empathy, that I have ever heard !

    • Great article Mohit! Never thought a cold email could actually be an ice breaker

    • I can’t help but think that this approach is a little dis-honest and a little stalker-ish.

      Highlighting why you are speaking to them in a professional capacity is one thing but finding out there personal interests is just too much IMHO.

      What if the person sending the email hates Football – are they expected to talk Footie for the rest of the sales process?

      • Thats part of the research that we do. In this case, Jack was not just any football fan, but a ardent follower of Manchester United football club.

        • I agree with Danny here. Unless you can somehow match your sales team’s hobbies with this it doesn’t make much sense. The prospect will ask the salesperson what do you think about last week’s game or something like that and it will make him look like a liar.

          Also, not saying where you got the info makes you sound like a stalker. It depends heavily on the culture where you apply this. Perhaps it worked for you, but one should be very careful applying techniques like this.

      • I thought it was the opposite of dis-honest. Mohit took the time to try his best to understand if the prospect was a good fit for MindTickle’s product. The football was a fun thing to get some common ground on. I suspect if when doing the 10 minutes of research on the prospect he found out they can’t really use his product he would have never sent the email at all.

        As a prospect I would much rather hear from someone who took a bit of time to know if what they were selling was something I could benefit from vs. getting a generic, spammy email that was not really a fit for me and just a complete waste of time for the marketer and the prospect.

    • Great article, Mohit! Ever one of your points is right on. At PersistIQ, we’re huge advocates of personalization too. With all the automation tools out there, this often gets lost. Thanks!

    • This is great! Any good Social Media integrations for Salesforce that captures this info in one place? The Linkedin one is great from what I have read.

    • Hi Mohit great article! I wrote the same email today but I compare our marketing automation software to the kitchen aid 😉 It was fun to write this email to guy who owns E-commerce store with kitchen products – I really hate writing formal emails that nobody cares.

    • The idea is great -because who doesn’t love a personal touch? the problem with this highly researched and personalized approach is it takes too much time and it’s difficult to scale…

      • Yes, which is why this approach is best when you want to start a conversation with a targeted account that has not responded to other contacts.

      • But what’s more important? Booking quality demos or booking a bunch of demos that aren’t as qualified? It’s time to bring it back to people and connecting with them. Automation is great, but use it wisely. I would rather my team spend time booking 10 qualified demos that have a higher probability to convert to closed won business then booking 30 so so demos because we were focused on scaling.

        • Jason, I agree with you. We don’t need to send 100 emails every day. It’s equally important to identify companies that are need a solution like yours and targeting them.

        • Agree, when we are focused on selling instead of truly helping is when we get into trouble. Focus on serving genuinely and you will sell more, and you will stand out from the majority that is email blasting

      • Joei, we’ve codified our process, so our inside sales team knows exactly which online sites to check and how to get the right information. This has got our research time down to about 10 minutes per prospect. While it’s still longer than a traditional cold call, the additional response rate and more targeted effort saves us a lot more time in the long run.

    • Good article. How do you scale this process if you want to target say, 10 prospects and different layers in each of these 10 orgs?

      • Not every solution needs to be scalable, and it’s not necessary to have your reps sending 100 emails every day. If reps send 10 good emails a week to good prospects they should get the required responses. What if from those 10 they get 3 or 4 qualified opportunities every week?

        • Thanks Mohit. Makes sense to focus on quality of the email rather than quantity (when it comes to number of emails). Is there a thumb rule on number of emails to the same quality contact / prospect before one should stop emailing?

          • Generally I follow a 1+1 rule, where the first email is highly personalized and well researched, and then send a follow up email to see if they’ve had a chance to look at it.

        • This is what I say Mohit! Don’t try to scale everything! 1 is greater than zero, just get to as many as you can. 50 customized emails with 5 responses is better than 100 cold blast with 2 responses

    • Really nice stuff Mohit.
      The „Hook That Brings A Smile To Their Face” is really valuable. One of the most important things is to catch the prospect’s attention with the subject line. Otherwise, they won’t even open our email. I see the subject line as a kind of a key to open the prospect’s door — it should be tailor-made if it is to work. Without it, all the content, even great one, may end up in trash.

    • WOW !

    • I like the thought and effort that was put into creating this personalized email. I wonder, do you use tools like https://messagesumo.com to automate your lead generation and email prospecting – utilizing their templates?

      • Thanks. We don’t use any tools to automate our email prospecting. All our emails are personalized and well-researched like the examples here.

    • This is epic Mohit Garg! Loved your blog post. Will forward this article to our sales team at http://www.townscript.com

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