How To Win Your Next Big Customer With A Cold Email Pitch
The idea of “cold email pitching” comes with such baggage. Probably because we’ve all received really awful cold email pitches in the past.
You know what I’m talking about:
They start with something like to whom it may concern and end with expecting your reply. Sometimes their english is quite broken or their actual pitch (or ask) is so vague it’s impossible to respond to.
Those kinds of cold emails deserve to be deleted.
But not all cold emailing is a waste of time.
In fact, over the last few years, I’ve brought in over $200,000 in new business just from my cold emailing efforts.
Today I’d like to share my best advice for sending a cold email that converts into your next big customer.
Whether you’re an agency, a freelancer, a small business, or a growing company, these cold emailing tips can help you find, pitch, and secure your next big customer from scratch.
Tip 1: Take Time To Find The Right Person
One critical piece of landing your next big customer with a cold email pitch is ensuring you’re actually emailing the right person.
I once did an experiment to see if I could get any new business by emailing the “support” teams of various companies I wanted to work with.
My reasoning was this: the support team’s entire job is to make sure people like me are satisfied with their response. Many support employees get rated on if they make customers happy in their correspondence. So, naturally, these support teams will connect me with the right person.
I was 100% wrong.
In fact, I think zero of those companies actually ended up being my customers.
Now, I take the time to do the research and find the right person to contact before I ever write my first line of email.
To find the right person, I recommend going to Linkedin and following a process that goes something like this:
- Search “company name” on Linkedin.
- Click “see all employees”
- Select “advanced search”
- Search for high-level employees (decision makers) in the department you want to work with. (for example, I was always targeting marketing/partnership leaders in companies. Director level or higher.)
From there, you can use a free tool like Hunter.io to search for that person’s email address. Simply go to the company’s website, activate the Hunter Chrome extension, type the person’s name and copy their email address.
If you discovered this client on one of many freelance job sites, you may have to do some homework to find out who is actually hiring freelancers at that company.
Tip 2: Don’t Mess Up Your Subject Line
When it comes to a cold email pitch, your subject line is perhaps the most important element. Why? Because if your subject line is bad, the email never even gets opened which means you never get a chance to pitch yourself.
A subject line in an email to a client is like a landing page to an e-commerce site: it has to draw people in and convince them to stay and trust you.
Here are 3 formulas I’ve used with success in the past:
The “Introduction” Formula
This simple formula acts as a self-introduction—something people are very likely to at least open. It looks something like these:
- Sophie @ DevCo <> Connor @ PastryCo
- Quick Intro: Sophie, I’m Connor from PastryCo
The “Question” Formula
Another way to pique someone’s interest is by asking a question. Pro tip: I often include two people on this one so that they feel obligated to answer (since their coworker/boss is also included on the thread.) It might look something like this:
- Hey, Todd & Carmen. Are you the right people for this?
- Quick question about PastryCo
- How long has it been since you updated your Facebook cover photo?
The “Value-Proposition” Formula
Lastly, being less vague and stating the value you’d like to contribute to the recipient is a good way to increase interest and likelihood of opening. A couple examples include:
- Do you work with corporate clients?
- Quick question about your website…
In all three formulas, keep in mind these helpful strategies as well:
- Don’t be too canned. Tailor your text to the person you’re sending it to.
- Speak somewhat casually (not like a salesman or a marketer).
- Keep it short and incite curiosity. Remember, the goal is getting them to open the email, not necessarily commit to anything quite yet.
Tip 3: Warm Up Your Pitch
Another reason many cold email pitches fail is because they’re just that: too cold. If all you care about is making a business transaction—as opposed to connecting with a real human being—people will see right through you.
Instead, try genuinely warming up your pitch with a personalized introduction and customized email.
If you get cold email pitches, you know what I’m talking about. Every email is structured the same way like they each got them from some template in a blog post.
Which is why I’m not going to give you a template to follow here.
Instead, think of genuine ways you can connect with them. Here are a couple ideas:
- Relate something you believe you share in common
- Share something they or their company have done that you find interesting or noteworthy
Most importantly be honest and be human. People will see straight through you and delete your email otherwise.
Tip 4: Encourage A Response
When sending your first cold email (often you have to send more than one to the same customer) your primary goal is just to get a response.
This opens the door to further engagement, eventual selling, and hopefully a closed deal.
But if the customer doesn’t ever respond, you can’t get to the negotiating and deal-closing.
In order to promote a response, try a few of the following ideas:
Keep It Short And To-The-Point
No one wants to read a page-long email from someone they don’t know. In fact, most people won’t read lengthy emails even from their coworkers or boss.
In order to increase your chances of getting a response, keep you content nice and short. A good copywriting rule of thumb is to write your first draft, then cut it down by half, then cut it down by half again.
You’ll be surprised just how wordy you were in the first version.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
The other way to almost guarantee a response is to ask a question. I’d recommend staying away from yes or no questions for the most part. Instead, try asking questions that require a sentence or two as a response.
Here are a couple of simple examples:
- How do you currently handle your website security upkeep?
- As of right now, where do you buy your napkins?
Keeping it short and asking the right questions can get your foot in the door, as it were. Once you’ve got a dialogue going, it’s your job to keep it going, steer it in the right direction and close the deal.
Tip 5: Make It Easy To Say “Yes”
I know I just told you to stay away from yes or no questions. But one key element of a successful cold pitch is getting your customer to agree to the first step in your sales process.
For many businesses, that’s an in-person meeting or a video call of some sort.
As you craft your emails, remember your entire purpose is to get the customer on the phone or in a meeting (or whatever your sales funnel starting point is).
After a couple emails back and forth, asking questions like the ones below are a great way to get a quick “yes” from your potential customer:
- Should we hop on a quick call for 15 minutes and iron out all the details?
- What if I stopped by your office later this week to work the rest out in person?
Tip 6: Be Patient But Persistent
The best cold email pitchers are patient and persistent at the same time.
Until someone explicitly tells you “no,” you have every right to continue reaching out, asking questions, and exploring options.
Keep in mind, people are busy and timing isn’t always perfect. You may reach out to someone who doesn’t need your services right now, but who may be in need within a few months. Understanding where they are at with their needs will allow you to find the right balance between patience and persistence.
Warming up a cold relationship can also take time—remember that. You’ll have to force yourself to be patient as you learn more about your potential customer, have multiple conversations with them, understand their needs, and work to find solutions together.
Putting in that work and patience is worth it, however, because you come out the other end with a “warm” relationship on which you can build a strong business partnership.
Tip 7: Don’t Underestimate The Power Of The Follow-Up
Perhaps the biggest mistake I see people make when they’re new to the idea of cold pitching via email is they give up far too early.
Remember, people are busy. They’re distracted. Or they’re out of the office.
There are any number of reasons people might ignore your first (or second, or third) email. But sending a series of helpful, kind, human follow-up emails is a good way to increase response rate.
Most of the deals I’ve closed using cold email outreach came because of follow-up on the initial email.
Rarely do I find a huge amount of success on the first email.
What To Say In A Follow-Up Email
It can be tempting to get far more salesy in a follow-up email. However, you should remember they still haven’t actually given you permission to send them a sales pitch.
You’re still waiting to even get a response.
Going into sales mode will likely alienate them further and reduce your chances of a response.
Instead, use friendly follow ups that have phrases like:
- Hey, James. I know you must be really busy these days. Is there someone else I should be chatting with about this instead
- Hey, Tamara. Just checking back in on this email I sent last week. Do you have a second we can chat more?
You Can Do This
Getting big customers using cold email is not easy—I won’t lie to you. But it’s definitely possible.
If you’re persistent and pay attention to how people respond (or don’t respond) to what you send them, soon you’ll learn what it takes in your niche and industry to get the kinds of responses you need to grow your small business.
Keep trying, testing, learning and improving and soon you’ll find yourself landing big customers all from cold email.