To this day, cold email is still one of the best channels for B2B sales teams.
You can use it to connect with decision-makers with personalized messages and book meetings on autopilot.
In this guide, I’ll show you how you can use cold email for sales and the exact steps you can follow to grow your company using email.
Let’s dive in.
1. Connect with Decision-Makers in Any Company or Role
Cold email gives you access to anyone’s inbox.
Whether you’re reaching out to a CEO, CFO, or Head of Growth, they all have a personal business email address that they check throughout the day.
When your cold email lands in their inbox, they’ll see it, open it, and consider your value proposition.
There’s no other channel where you can target people on such a granular level, which is what makes it so powerful for B2B sales.
2. Craft the Perfect Message and Control the Interaction
A unique aspect of cold email is that you fully control the process.
Suppose you were running an advertising campaign that directed everyone who clicked to a landing page. Everyone would see the same information, and you risk losing out on potential sales because the value proposition on the landing page doesn’t resonate with them.
With cold email, you can switch your email subject line, icebreaker, value proposition, call-to-action, and any other element you need, based on each recipient.
If you’re contacting CFOs, you can make the sales pitch all about ROI and cost saving.
If you’re contacting a CEO, you can focus on benefits to overall business productivity and growth.
If you’re reaching out to a CMO, you can make the value proposition relate closely to their marketing goals.
There’s no other channel where you can personalize each recipient at this level.
3. Add Personalization That’s Impossible on Other Channels
When you run paid ads or create content for SEO, you never know who will see it – even if it’s targeted toward your ideal audience.
That can lead to messaging that’s diluted, as it needs to appeal to a broader audience.
On the other hand, cold emailing is a one-to-one channel, which means you can tailor your message to every single person you’re targeting.
You can switch value propositions based on your knowledge of a prospect, or add unique personalization that wouldn’t be relevant to anyone but the individual you’re contacting.
As well as this, your cold email comes from your personal email address. When your recipients receive your email, they’ll be happy to reply, as they’ll feel like they’re being personally contacted by an individual rather than marketed to by a business.
Next, let’s look at how you can implement a cold email strategy for sales at your company.
1. Identify The Sales Prospects to Target in Your Campaign
The first step in any cold email campaign is identifying your sales prospects.
First, it’s imperative that you know the profile of your ideal prospect.
What is their job title?
What kind of company do they work for?
How much revenue does the company generate?
What software do they use at work?
All of these things will help you identify the right people to contact.
Source: UpLead on SoftwareAdvice
These tools let you run a search based on your prospect criteria, and then give you a list of B2B professionals who match those criteria in return.
They’ll also show you a contact email address and a direct dial if it’s available.
As well as that, you can run campaigns on LinkedIn. Sales Navigator is a powerful tool to identify decision-makers on LinkedIn, as you can use over 30 additional filters to identify the right prospects.
You can then export your leads from LinkedIn and save them to your prospect list.
It’s worth noting that most cold email outreach campaigns for sales see a 10-25% reply rate. Not everyone on your list will reply, so always account for that and add more prospects to your list than you need to hit your goals.
2. Source a Verified Email Address for Every Prospect
Once you have your initial prospect list ready, you’ll need to source their contact information.
Some B2B data providers like ZoomInfo may provide a contact email, but it won’t always be accurate, so set time aside for this step.
You can use standalone email-finding tools, such as RocketReach, which will suggest email addresses based on common email patterns used by a company.
For example, if they detect that your prospect uses an email pattern that’s [first name].[last name]@company.com, they’ll suggest that you test it on your prospect.
These tools run checks on each mailbox to see if it can receive emails. They’ll then tell you the likelihood of it being a real email address.
Source: NeverBounce on GetApp
If it’s not valid, you know to either remove that prospect from your email list or continue searching for a valid contact address.
This step is important because it will mean you’ll have fewer emails bouncing back, which will positively impact your cold email deliverability.
3. Warm Up Your Cold Email Inbox
The next step to improving your email deliverability is by warming up your inbox.
This is often overlooked, but it’s essential.
Warming up your inbox is a process where you simulate an email campaign on your inbox.
This inbox engagement will show ESPs that you’re a trustworthy sender as you have regular daily activity.
Mailflow includes reports that show you where your emails are landing, and when you see that most are landing in the primary inbox, you know it’s safe to send campaigns.
This email warm-up process will take one to two weeks initially but will result in ESPs being happy to send your cold sales emails to the primary inbox, rather than treating them as spam.
It’s a good idea to leave your warm-up tool running in the background all the time, as it will continually generate positive engagement signals in your inbox.
4. Add Custom Opening Lines to Stand Out in the Inbox
Before writing your cold email templates, you need to prepare your cold email opening lines.
A cold email opening line is a sentence that’s 100% unique to every prospect.
Loved your new podcast episode with [guest name]. Learned a lot about social selling from it.
Awesome talk at [conference], loved the part about the potential of AI in marketing.
[Mutual friend] from [company] told me I should reach out as we both work in [industry].
Your opening line acts as an icebreaker, showing each recipient that you’ve done your research into them. As well as that, it instantly builds rapport, which is vital if you want to develop a good relationship from the start with each prospect.
The easiest way to manage this process is to add your opening lines while you’re prospecting.
Create a new column in your prospect list spreadsheet and title it “Opening Line”.
As you’re prospecting, you can spend a couple of extra minutes on each prospect, looking for something unique and noteworthy to use in your opening line.
When your recipient sees this, it’s going to show them that you care about the interaction, and will make your cold outreach stand out from every other cold sales email they’ve received that week.
5. Write Your Cold Sales Email Templates to Start a Conversation
Your cold sales email template is critical to success.
If you can prove to your prospect within a few sentences that it’s worth their time to reply, you’ll get a high positive response rate and will win new business from your campaigns.
There’s no single sales cold email format that works all of the time, but most high-performing templates do have some things in common, which are:
They use an opening line that’s custom to each recipient
There’s a brief but clear value proposition and pitch
There’s social proof to build trust
There’s a simple call-to-action (CTA) to get a reply
For example, take this cold email template from RepurposeHouse:
The email starts off with a brief mention that they’ve seen the recipient posting on social media, and they say that they’ve created a personal video for them.
Then, there’s a short explainer about what the business does so their sales prospect will instantly know what the company can help with. They namedrop some of their existing client names, and then, add a simple CTA that invites their prospect to book a meeting.
They could switch out the CTA with a question, like “is growing your social presence something you’re considering?” and they’d see even higher reply rates.
Overall, the template is simple and effective, which is what you need to aim for.
As long as your template is highly relevant to each prospect and makes it simple for them to reply, you’ll be able to see consistently high response rates.
When you write out your template you can include attributes. These will pull in data from your prospect list and automatically personalize each email.
Personalization is essential, and this is the most efficient way to implement it.
6. Add Your Follow-Up Email Steps to Boost Response Rates
No matter how compelling your first sales email is, most people won’t reply. The decision-makers you’re emailing are busy and your cold email isn’t a priority, no matter how relevant it is to them.
To boost your odds of a response, you need to add at least one follow-up email step to your cold email campaign.
Over half of replies to cold sales emails come from a follow-up step.
In your follow-up email you need to:
Remind your recipient why you’re emailing them
Show them the potential value of their business with more social proof
Change your CTA to see if they respond to it
We recommend avoiding the simple “bumping this to the top of your inbox” approach. It doesn’t add value to the exchange, which needs to be your main focus at this stage.
Here’s an example follow-up that was sent after the previous email we looked at:
In the email, they get straight to the point, sharing a case study with real results. If you’re emailing CEOs and founders, this is the type of information that will encourage them to respond to you.
QuickMail allows you to add as many follow-up emails as you need to.
After your first email, add a ‘Wait’ step. In most cases, a delay of three days is enough.
After this step, add a new email step.
Write out your follow-up template, and save it.
This is a powerful way to automate your follow-up process and get more responses.
You can add as many follow-ups as you need, but we’d recommend limiting it to four or five. If your prospect hasn’t replied by then, it’s unlikely that they’ll respond and you don’t want to risk them flagging your emails as spam.
7. Tracking Your Sales Email Metrics
Your sales team needs to be data-driven. You need to know how many cold emails you need to send in order to acquire new customers, and you need to be aware of the ROI of the channel.
The best way to do this is to track your sales metrics at every stage of the journey.
QuickMail tracks every sales email metric you need to know:
These will be automatically tracked, so you don’t need to set anything up.
After analyzing data taken from over 65 million emails sent with QuickMail, we found that you need to be aiming for these metrics:
An open rate of 44% or more, which is the average. The top 8% of sales emails have an 80% open rate.
To be in the top 25% of sales outreach teams, you need a reply rate of 20% or more.
The average click-through rate is 3.67%, but this only applies if you include links in your email, which we don’t recommend as it can impact deliverability and the primary goal of a cold email is to start a conversation.
The average unsubscribe rate is 2.17%. You can keep this low by sending highly personalized, highly relevant emails.
Over time, you’ll learn what works for your unique company. You can use the data to optimize future sales email campaigns and get more replies, and ultimately, more new customers from your campaigns.
As your company grows, you’ll send more cold emails every week as different sales reps will be working on the channel.
This presents a challenge.
Sending high-volume email campaigns is tricky for a few reasons:
ESPs have a limit on daily email sending volume
High-volume campaigns can be flagged by each major ESP’s spam filter
You need to juggle multiple inboxes and accounts
Most cold email software isn’t made for sending at scale
Most cold email software only lets you send campaigns from one inbox. If you want to increase the send volume, you’ll have to copy-paste the whole campaign across different inboxes and accounts.
This is time-consuming and inefficient.
To solve this problem, use QuickMail.
QuickMail was designed with scale in mind and includes an inbox rotation system.
Rather than needing to duplicate campaigns, you can add a new inbox to any existing campaign.
QuickMail will split your campaign between the two inboxes automatically.
Adding inboxes to a campaign is a powerful way to scale up your campaign, and you won’t need to deal with tedious copy-pasting or spending time duplicating campaigns. There also won’t be any risk that an inbox exceeds sending limits, as you’ll always see how many emails each inbox has sent per day.
To build your cold email sales process, you’ll need the right tools in place.
Here are some essentials:
UpLead: An affordable B2B contact database that makes it easy to identify decision-makers based on any criteria you need.
Mailflow: A cold email warm-up tool to prepare your inbox for sending and ensure every email you send lands in the primary inbox.
QuickMail: Send personalized cold emails for sales at scale, automatically follow-up, and includes tools to help teams scale their outreach without encountering deliverability issues.
Pipedrive: A lightweight but robust CRM to help you track your leads and sales conversations. It integrates with QuickMail and your data will automatically sync between the two platforms.
There’s no need to spend weeks painstakingly choosing the best tools. You can start with a foundation with these four, and if you encounter roadblocks, you can look for additional tools to help your workflow run smoothly.
The most important part of any cold email is how well-targeted your prospect list is based on your offer and the level of personalization that you include to prove that you care about every interaction you make.
Cold email is an incredible sales channel. To make it work for your business, you need to set up a clear process.
Getting the right tools in place
Having a way to identify qualified prospects
Using a cold email platform like QuickMail to automate your outreach
A clear process for nurturing your leads into customers
Over time, you’ll learn what works and be able to double down on it.
When you’re ready to start using cold email for sales, you can start your free 14-day trial of QuickMail and see how it can help you start more conversations with qualified sales leads.