How to Write a Cold Email in 6 Simple Steps

Program on Persuasion Provides this step-by-step cold email template on how to write a cold email to begin the business relationship.

When a buyer won’t meet with you, it’s because they think you’ll waste their time. In order to secure the meeting, Program on Persuasion has developed a six-step cold email template that will show you how to write a cold email.

Step 1: Declare Your Intent

Because we are at the Top of the Predictive Sales Funnel™, we can’t assume that we already have credibility with the buyer.

In order to build trust with our prospect, we as the seller need to develop trust by establishing trust and credibility.

It’s important to remember that we should not ask any questions until we have declared our intent.

Asking buyers questions too early can be interpreted this way: “I am a seller. I want to know if I can take your valuable time to sell you something which I have not given you enough information to say ‘yes’ to.” The buyer almost has to say no. Sellers owe it to prospects to immediately and persuasively state their intent.

Step 2: Transfer Your Credibility

Before contacting a prospect who doesn’t know you, think of a mutual contact. If you know someone who trusts you and who has trust with the buyer, you can transfer that credibility.

Transfers of credibility work like character reference. The very first line should reference this person. For example,

“[John Smith] suggested I give you a call.”

This should engage the buyer for at least enough time that s/he listens to what you have to say.

You won’t always have someone who can provide this transfer of credibility, but we often can think of someone if we search our network for him/her.

Step 3: Script Your Request to Meet

In the event that we can’t transfer credibility, our cold email template starts with an introduction. The seller should immediately introduce ourselves (our name and company), and then we should ask for a definitely amount of time—about four minutes—to talk to the prospect.

Step 4: Set Up the Educational Briefing

Once we have introduced ourselves, the next component of the cold email template sets up our Education-Based Briefing in a few short, specific sentences. The seller should at this point give a few pieces of valuable, relevant information.

Things to mention in your Request to Meet:

  1. This briefingis free.
  2. The briefing only takes about twenty minutes to present.
  3. Ask if they’re interested.

 Step 5: Fielding Objections

Remember Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of the objections you receive will be the same two or three objections. If we can anticipate them—and we can—we should have a good response for them.

If a buyer pushes back, don’t fold. Instead, handle the objection.

Often times, the buyer is testing to see how committed you are to the briefing and if you believe it is valuable.

Below, Program on Persuasion provides several ways to anticipate objections, but here is the single most prevalent one:

 “Hey Jim, I appreciate you calling but I don’t have time to talk—I am super busy.”

Here’s what we should do in the event of this objection:

  1. Seek Understanding. Do not interrupt.

    Demonstrate empathetic listening by articulating it back to them: “Bob, I understand that you’re busy and do not have time to meet with every salesperson that wants to tell you about their product—I get it, and I feel the same way.”

  2. Reframe the Conversation.

    Utilize the information that you have about the objection to assess the situation differently: “However Bob, this is not a sales pitch.  In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with our products or even our company.  What we have found is exactly what you just stated. Business people like you are so busy working on your business that they don’t have time to research the market, not to identify trends or confirm what your intuition is already telling you.”

  3. Craft a Compelling Message.

    At this point, we should make the meeting enticing and relevant to the prospect: “Bob, we commissioned a research organization to provide us with the empirical research, not just anecdotal stories, about market patterns, biggest problems, what your customers value most in an organization likes yours. It’s stacked with facts and trends that will surprise you. Obviously, we want to have a relationship with people like you—and we thought, what better way to begin a relationship than to bring something that YOU would find valuable? I promise I will not try to sell you anything on this call. I just want to start a business relationship, so that in the future if you need another supplier to bounce an idea off of, you’ll think of us.”

  4. Third Party Validation.

    Provide a reference to lend credibility to your claims: “We have shared this with other businesses like yours (mention the others’ names) and they said [tell them what they said], that this was definitely worth their time, that there was information here that they will use in making important decisions regarding their business.”

  5. Close. 

    Restate the original request: “So, what do you think, Bob? Can we schedule 20 minutes for me to review this with you?

What to Do When the Buyer Says Yes

When the buyer agrees to your call to action, it’s not over. The steps in setting up the first meeting are detailed below.

Step 5: Ask These Questions

Too many questions risks pushing the buyer away, but here the two most necessary questions you should ask before you get off the line.

  1.      Who else in the organization would benefit by attending?
  2.      What are the biggest challenges that your company is focused on right now?

Step 6: Send the Confirmation Email

The last step in the cold email template is the confirmation email. We want to send a confirmation email at the earliest opportunity. The longer you wait to send the email, the more likely it is that your prospect will forget you.

The title of your briefing should be in the email’s subject line, just in case the prospect does not open emails from unfamiliar addresses.

The body of the email should be short, but include these three elements. First, confirm the appointment. Second, give a few nuggets of information—trends or statistics—to demonstrate the briefing’s power. And third, include a testimonial about the briefing. (The testimonial should not be about your company or its products.)

Photo by David McEachan.