How a Cold B2B Email Brought Us 750 Clients

During the last year, we interviewed over 800 CEOs and VPs of Sales at SMB companies. What I learned: most cold emails fail. Sadly, recipients simply see them as an annoyance. It doesn’t matter whether it is a winning sales template or a highly creative email; prospects will be peeved to have it adding clutter to their inboxes.

Dmitry Chervonyi
Jul 4, 2019 · 12 min read
online interview with a client

At some point in their lives, every beginning founder, junior sales manager or sales master have encountered the necessity to send a certain number of emails to their intended audience.

First, they start with a brainstorm session. When it bears no fruit, they google “Best B2B email templates”, “How to write an introduction email template” or, “top B2B templates”. Usually, this search ends up in 10 open tabs and an ocean of useless information.

For example, the first link you find after googling «best B2B email templates», is “19 of the Best B2B Email Marketing Examples.”

It’s obvious to everyone who has sent more than 5 emails in their lives that your recipients are more likely to send these templates to the spam folder than to read them.

Below you can find some B2B lessons I learned the hard way; the way of trials, screw-ups, and straight-up failures.

Yes, I used to look up “top b2b templates” in Google too.


What do you want from your recipient? What is your end goal? The goals may vary, from appointment setting, scheduling a call or asking for referrals, to requesting investments or reviews. Sending an email provides the fastest way to connect with a decision maker.

Sure, some people will say that nobody reads emails nowadays, so it would be better to make a cold call. Contrary to those opinions, email is still the main business communication channel in the United States.

So, if you want to sell to customers in the USA, send an email. Then, send 100 emails.

Don’t go overboard, though. Whenever you get an urge to send 1000 emails in one day, remember about a spam folder.

B2B Email Tip # 1: Define your ideal customer

Your ideal customer should be your recipient. Therefore, building an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) should be your first step. The ICP may include geographic data (up to the street name and office number), industry, company size, title of the intended decision maker, number of employees, revenue, etc.

These criteria are very basic. For a more detailed search, you look for the following data:

● funds raised (how many and how recently)

● tools used

● increase in employees

● type of hired employees

● open vacancies

● code the product is based on

B2b Email Marketing Tools You Should Be Using

● LinkedIn Navigator. With this tool you can make the most out of the prospect’s company page: it gathers and structures all information about the titles, business growth, the employees they seek or have already hired.

● SimilarWeb, SimilarTech, Datanyze, etc. Allows you to view your prospects’ traffic and the tools they use. You can also find out where the views come from, the prospect’s budget, and more. It’s worth noting that the paid versions of all these tools provide top functionality, but they are very expensive. That makes them a relevant solution for an enterprise, but not for an individual.

● Crunchbase, BuiltWith, StartupHub, AngelList. Provides information on the funds and the code used for building the product.

● Glassdoor. Shows you open vacancies in the prospect’s company.

● Prospect’s website. Yes, it is a gold mine of useful information when you know how to find it, read it, organize it and use it.

● Social media. What are the chances of a company requiring web development if its corporate blog hasn’t been posting anything for a year? Less than zero.

Our ICP is based on the Google Form and Typeform. It allows our clients to fill it in quickly and easily before we start our work. The form can also be corrected and re-filled at the stage of email outreach.

My personal advice: Make your ICP as specific as possible. It will let your LeadGen team explore your vertical more closely and even find the constraints that you haven’t been aware of. More details result in more numbers, more tests, and more scrupulous calculations so that you never message those prospects that don’t need you.

B2B Email Tip# 2: Gather an email database

There are several ways to find an email database:

Buy an existing base

This is a low-cost solution that brings you lots of emails of a very low quality. These bases are heavily spammed, so don’t be surprised when you find out that at least 40% of these emails are invalid.

100–200 emails won’t bring you any results, and 10,000 emails will only get you the “Spammer of the Year” award. It’s an instant ban from Google and other providers. Using Mail.Ru is a desperate measure because Microsoft Firewall won’t let it through.

Why so? You wouldn’t be the first who wants to send tons of emails to any address they can find.

By purchasing a base like that you lose more than you gain.

Parsing emails

You can make a parser of your own or use services like Hunter.io.

Pros: lots of emails

Cons: lots of low quality, invalid, inactive or deleted emails

Therefore, expect a lot of unnecessary junk coming your way. Given all that, your average conversion should be 15–25% at best and 1% at worst. Sounds really sad, doesn’t it?

Manual search

You can look for contacts in LinkedIn. Just send friend invites to your prospects and start talking. Then you ask for the email and launch your campaigns.

As for the alternatives to a LinkedIn search, there are tools that find emails or filter them.

You don’t have to work with thousands of contacts to make one sale. Sometimes, all you need is a personalized value proposition and 10 high-quality leads.

If you do a manual search in LinkedIn, skip pages 1–2 and start with page 10 or even page 20. Your algorithm should be the following:

View the prospect’s LinkedIn profile

Visit the prospect’s website

Study the prospect’s business account on social media

Check with your tools

Found a good fit? Great. Now find their email.

Don’t forget that many companies offer basically the same services in the same vertical.

Cold emails are really about mathematics:

1. You send 20 emails.

2. 18 of these emails reach their recipients.

3. 10 of these emails get opened.

4. 3 of these emails get responses.

5. 0 of these emails get positive responses.

6. To schedule 10 calls you need at least 100 responses.

To get those responses, you need to research hundreds or thousands of companies.

Pros: high-quality leads

Cons: It brings a small number of leads and takes too much time. If your targeting or value propositions are even a little bit off, you’ll have no choice but to start everything from scratch.

This is your #1 option if you have no funds; however, if a lead search is covered by your budget, there is another way for you.

Manual search via outsource

If you want to save your time and the time of your sales reps, hire a professional team that will hand-curate leads that match your ICP.

Pros: quality leads

Cons: requires investment

I must warn you about a common rookie mistake:

“I hire several database researchers. They gather an awesome database for me. I instantly use it. I’m rolling in appointments, calls, and money. Profit!”

Now let’s come down from the cloud nine and take a look at the calculations: hiring expenses, interviews, employment, salary, bonuses, vacations, commodities, bad leads, meetings, and tools — which are expensive, did I mention that?

Are you sure that 3- to 5000 leads are worth it? What will you do in case of failure? Fire all the staff you took so much time and effort to hire?

This will end badly for the HR part of your brand and you don’t need that — especially if you are a startup and fast growth is everything to you.

Why not skip all these troubles by employing a remote team of experienced and daring guys who have already established their lead generation methods through trial and error, paid for their tools, and secured a stable income by working with several clients like you?

In the end, you get 100% quality at ¾ of the cost you would have had to pay by trying to do this all on your own. Also, you save yourself a major headache of having to deal with excuses from your employees. Trust me, “My cat got sick” is the least creative answer you’re going to get when asking why the lead quote is not ready yet.

B2B Email Tip # 3: Send emails that get opened

The subject line is the most vital part of an email. The few words you use should match your goal and message perfectly. Otherwise, no matter how amazing your email is, all will be in vain.

How to improve the subject line

Use the recipient’s name wherever it’s appropriate. The practice of sending emails with the {FirstName} variable in their subject line is decades old.

Put yourself into your recipient’s shoes (let’s say, a tech director) and imagine dealing with 10–20 sales emails. If the subject line looks like you’re about to be forced into buying something, change it. Be wary of spam triggers like free, offer, promotion, etc — you can google them to be sure.

Although the open rate of your emails will largely depend on your targeting and the quality of your database, with a good subject line you can count on 50–80% Open Rate. Here are 5 subject lines that we have found to be highly efficient:

● “{Company} and Belkins — Synergy”

Our golden standard.

● “You or {Name_Of_Colleague}”

We use it when we come across two titles that may be relevant to us. Using the {Name_of_Colleague} variable sufficiently increases the Open Rate

● “Our call, 2 pm on the 21st of April, Tuesday”

This is a very effective subject line if you’re about to schedule an appointment.

● “Regarding {Open Position} at {Company}”

We do this if we find an open position via Glassdoor.

● “Coffee on the 24th & 8th St. at 3 pm tomorrow”

This is a good option if you want to arrange a face-to-face meeting or connect with your prospect during a relevant event that takes place at your prospect’s location.

Never use tricky or clickbait subject lines such as:

“We regret to inform you that…”

“We’re disappointed…”

“Bad news for {Company}…”.

It’s a scammer’s way out. Sure, these subject lines increase the chances of your emails being opened but don’t expect a positive response. You don’t build genuine, professional cooperation on deception. Your clients deserve better than intentionally misleading subject lines.

B2B Email Tip # 4: Write emails that users want to respond to

The optimal email structure:

● Greeting

● Opening

● Main body

● Call to action

The general length of an email? Two paragraphs; max five short sentences each.

Greeting

● “Hello,”

For your introduction email.

● “Hi,”

For your following waves (can be used for the first email if the circumstances allow it).

● “Dear”

A bit formal, but still efficient.

● “Hope all is well!/Hope the weather is treating you nicely!/Hope you have a great week thus far!”

This one is entirely optional.

Opening

Don’t start with your name. I don’t care who emails me, I care why they email me. For instance:

● “I’m writing to you regarding…”

● “Do you have time this week to jump on a quick call to discuss…”

● “I’m looking for the person in charge of…”

These opening lines create the mood for a conversation. If you start with “I was hoping…” or “I am sorry if I disturbed you…,” you already imply that it will not be a talk between equals.

Your emails should provide a clear and concise description of a solution for the prospect’s pain points. There is no reason for you to apologize or curry favor. Your recipients should see that your value your time as much as theirs.

Main body

Once you define what you want from your recipient, you need to show why your recipients should keep speaking with you.

Here is a viable option:

“We help small law firms in Oregon who had 3.0 Google Quality Scoring and below to boost their clientship by increasing rating and getting more local exposure. In the Oregon area, we helped Bulter & Co, Smith Law and dozens of other shops to grow 200% over 12-month period…”

The variables I used:

● Oregon — geographic location of our prospects.

● 3.0 Google Scoring — relevant data gathered by our researchers.

● Bulter & Co, Smith Law — names that ring a bell to our prospects.

● 200% over 12 months — specific numbers and information that shows our professionalism.

Note that the email doesn’t have any sentences that are straight to the point. In 90% of cases, your average prospects are not interested in reading paragraphs of texts that don’t include any information that is relevant to their business, right here, right now.

Call to action (CTA)

In the end, you outline your next steps. Here are some calls-to-action you can use:

1) “If you are interested, it would be nice to have a quick call sometime this week.”

This is the light version. Yes, it may look a bit cheesy, but it gives plenty of space for adjustments as long as you use the word “interested” and don’t pressure your prospects with a specific date and time.

2) “Let’s have a call on Tuesday at 2 pm or Wednesday at 11 am to determine if there is a merit for a more in-depth discussion. Does this time work for your calendar?”

Why do this? The reason is pretty simple. People are psychologically conditioned to respond positively to requests or instructions.

3) “Let me know if tomorrow at 10 am or 2 pm is available in your calendar.”

The trick behind this one is that even that time slot is occupied, this CTA will still motivate your prospect to take a look at their calendar and see when they’re available. Aside from following instructions, people also tend to finish what they started.

4) “Can you please let me know who I should be speaking with?”

Use this when you’re uncertain who your target is at the prospect’s company. This CTA works quite well: The recipients often respond by referring you to the right titles or directly cc’ing them to the email thread. This CTA provides a wide range of options as long as you keep the structure intact and avoid a salesy approach. Cold emails either sell or remain closed — they are not marketing emails that are designed to maintain the intrigue.

So, what do we have in the end?

Subject line: {Company} and Belkins

Hello {FirstName},

I’m looking for the person in charge of marketing at {Company}. Would that be you or {NameOfColleague}?

We help small law firms in {Oregon} who had below {3.0} Google Quality Scoring to boost their clientship by increasing rating and getting more local exposure. In the {Oregon} area, we helped {Bulter & Co}, {Smith Law} and dozens of other shops to grow 200% over a 12-month period.

That said, I’d like to find out if we would be a good fit for your firm. Can you please let me know who I should be speaking with?

Many thanks,

{Name}

B2B Email Tip # 5: Make your email visually personal; use only plain text

Don’t use services that send emails from their servers. You can check that by viewing the sender’s information. Don’t use HTML. Don’t embed clickable buttons. Don’t use PDFs if they don’t include relevant links. Forget about images, files, and any other attachments that increase the weight of your email.

Don’t overload your emails with general information. “The more, the merrier” principle doesn’t work here.

Your emails shouldn’t be over-complicated. I recommend writing them in Gmail, Outlook or similar services. To increase trust, you can add “Sent from my iPhone” at the end. This has worked really well for our clients.

Conclusion

Choosing the right words for cold emails is a complicated task. A good sales template is created through trial and testing, and the end result is defined by the strategy you choose. Laconic emails versus emails with extensive content may yield very different results.

Any high-quality email begins with detailed client research and various insights. Relevance and brevity are an absolute must.

Look at your emails through the eyes of a client who checks their inbox via smartphone while getting coffee, being stuck in a traffic jam, riding an elevator, etc. If they read half of your email before resuming their daily business, will they remember to get back to you?

My final recommendation: read your emails out loud. It helps to polish your sentences and make them simpler and clearer. Don’t forget to ask yourself:

● Is everything clear?

● Do all sentences make sense?

● Are any explanations required?

● Can I make this email shorter?

● What value can the recipient find in this email?

● What is the next step for my recipients?

Until you have clear answers to each of these questions, don’t send your email.

That will be all. Thanks for reading! If you found this material useful, let me know by hitting the clap button whether or not I should write more about B2B email sales follow-ups, email sending tools and ways to turn your email inbox into an appointment-setting utility.

In case you have questions, our sales team (sales@belkins.io) email is at your service.

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Dmitry Chervonyi

Written by

CMO with Belkins LeadGen company.

HackerNoon.com

how hackers start their afternoons.

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