My Friends Write Better Cold Emails Than My Vendors Do

Cold email examples sound human

The secret to writing amazing cold emails is really simple. But first…

“You know what my email open rate was in 1996 with a 400,000 person list? 89%. Now, you don’t give a shit if they’re offering a million dollar house for a hundred bucks, you’re like ‘click, spam.’” – Gary Vaynerchuk

He’s right. Everyone knows how incredibly difficult it’s become for salespeople to gain a share of voice within the impenetrable wall of crap that has become our prospects’ inboxes.

As such, we need to innovate. One example – I received several cold emails from an “innovative” sales rep who used the “let me send the exact same thing so many times it actually becomes a fun exercise for the person trying to spot any differences” approach. (I finally found one! See if you can).


Email Your Prospects Like You’d Email Your Friends

Go find the last great email chain you’ve sent to your friends, one that despite ALL the noise in their inboxes, they actually took the time to read and respond to.

Here’s one of mine:

rf2 You see, cold emails templates can work, but they still need to sound HUMAN.

We’ve been so desensitized to everything else – too much spam, too much marketing automation, and too many sales people answering the question “how many emails did you send?”

Here’s my approach to making cold emails more human, using 5 key components pulled from the exchange with my buddies:

Step 1 – Build A Personal Connection

Sometimes I call my buddies trolls. Likewise, I always try to kick off my prospecting emails with something specific to the recipient.

Have you interacted with their brand? Do you love what they stand for? Do you have a mutual connection on LinkedIn? Find something you can truly connect with, and reference it.

If you can’t, you’re probably a robot.

Step 2 – Understand Your Prospect’s Desired Outcome

My crew likes to celebrate special occasions in Atlantic City. Similarly, I can almost always research and find something that my prospect either does or should care about.

To find the former, I love to check financial publications; typically they give great info that makes it easier to tie a $$$ value to your prospect’s goals.

For the latter, mine your own data and expertise to challenge or educate your prospect, adding valuable insights to their lives.

Step 3 – Help Your Prospects Achieve That Outcome

Be specific. In my example above, I’m willing to hunt down hotel deals so my friends can enjoy a weekend in AC without doing any leg-work. The sales analog is a very brief mention of how your product or service can help achieve the specific item you called out in #2.

Pro-tip – don’t go into detail. There will be plenty of time in the sales process to get more specific.

Step 4 – Be Compelling

WHY should I respond now? Don’t insult people’s intelligence with some fabricated compelling event. A helpful salesperson shines light on the TRUE compelling events that the prospect should be considering. For my friends, it is the knowledge that hotel prices do in fact increase. That doesn’t play in B2B. Things like implementation timelines versus key dates for your prospect, do.

Strong Call to Action

Don’t believe any B.S. psychology here. Proposing 1-2 day/time windows to connect is not “more likely” to garner a response… it simply saves one additional back and forth if in fact, your prospect is willing to speak with you. And saving time = greatly appreciated.

Follow these call to action examples for best practices.

Bonus #1

Send the cold email to yourself as a test, and view it on your mobile device. You’re not important enough to garner desktop time, so make sure your email’s no more than a few scrolls long, with lots of paragraph spaces.

Bonus #2

One of the hilarious responses to my AC proposal.


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    • Love it! Good stuff here Rob, thanks for sharing.

    • Great post. It is amazing people forget they are human when they get behind a keyboard.
      We had one incident at, where despite our best efforts our outbound email prospecting numbers suddenly plummeted.
      We checked everything, message, list quality, delivery and of course ‘human’. In the end we tracked it down to a formatting quirk in a single email client. It just happened to be the most common email client (Outlook) of our target market.
      In Outlook the text format looked slightly, and I mean very slightly, larger than normal. But it was enough to look less human and more like a sales and marketing mail. We were using Gmail and mobile and the text looked perfect when we sent it to ourselves to test.
      Lesson: Make sure you are using the same tools as your prospects when testing.

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