If you’re busy growing a business, you already know that an email can lead to awesome new opportunities — new clients, partnerships, and more.

Or… it can be a MASSIVE fail.

I spoke with Heather Morgan, CEO of Salesfolk, who helps businesses get better results with their cold emails. She’s helped companies like Lyft and Kissmetrics turn leads into conversations via email and has accumulated a ton of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.

She shared some solid insights about how to send smart cold emails that actually get responses:

Can you share a little bit about how you approach an email campaign?

I start every email campaign by first defining who my audience is, then researching that audience by picking about 10 names from my list to build composite “buyer personas,” and taking copious notes which I can use for campaign ideas. I write down benefits, pain points, use cases, and ideas for “social engineering.”

How long do you think a cold email should be if it’s your first time reaching out?

3-5 sentences usually. Max 6 or 7, but try to avoid that unless it’s absolutely relevant and necessary. Most of the time you can do it in 5 unless there is extra personalization that is relevant.

Since you help businesses write better email, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of emails (good and bad). What are some common mistakes you commonly see that may not seem immediately obvious?

Oh, there are so many…! I think one of the biggest mistakes I see that is often overlooked is being too self-focused. It seems really obvious that you should focus on your prospect and their needs rather than your own, but this is so common.

Another related one is using third person. You want the email to seem like a conversation that uses first person (I/we) and second person (you). The more you address the prospect with “you” and/or their company name or title, the better it will resonate with them.

What are some of your favorite sales tools and what makes them awesome?

There’s a lot of great tools out there that let you do mail merges and automate your sales workflows, and most of them are pretty good–it sort of depends on your preference and style. 

I love Mixrank’s “Fast Prospect” tool for list-building. It’s hands down the highest quality with the most accurate lead data I have seen anywhere.

I also recently discovered Ecquire. It’s amazing. I love it because it lets me quickly grab contacts from LinkedIn and other sources and add them to my Salesforce or MailChimp account on the fly, and that saves me a lot of time. 

My other favorite tools are actually…humans. 

Automation is great, but it’s even better when you can combine it with human talent. I delegate a lot of my data cleansing and appending to virtual assistants, and they leverage macros and bots that I created for them to make their jobs even more efficient. 

How many times should someone follow up with a prospect? Is there a magic number?

Statistically speaking, you want to send 8 emails to get a response. So that means 7 follow ups. That’s because about 33% of your total (positive/neutral) responses will come from emails 5-8, so if you’re not sending 8, you’re missing out on leads.

This is partly because people are busy and can sometimes be “on the fence” or skeptical, but also because different messages resonate with different types of individuals.

Sending 8 emails does NOT mean that you just keep saying “Hey, I’m following up” over and over. That’s obnoxious and repetitive, and will get your prospects to hit spam faster than you can blink.

Every email you send needs to add new and unique value, which gives you an opportunity to convince more people to have a conversation with you, since each email can focus on a different benefit. 

Do you have any wisdom to share that might help people stay motivated when dealing with rejection via email? 

Be shameless and always add value. 🙂

If you really believe your product/service can add value, and you’re reaching out to a relevant and targeted audience, there’s no reason you should feel bad.

Not everyone will be a fit, but as long as you always strive to be thoughtful and add value, you’ll end up with more positive results than negative.

There will always be some haters and jerks out there who reply with really mean responses, but that’s sales (and life)! 

Everyone is different, but I try to just focus on the positive, while also trying to understand why someone might not be interested or a good fit.

If you get a lot of negative rejections maybe you have the wrong messaging or are not reaching out to the right people… or maybe there’s product-market-fit issues, but hopefully not.