How to Nail the First Email in a Cold Outreach Sequence | Sales Emails 101

Samir Sampat

The numbers don’t lie—cold emails are usually just that: ice cold. People don’t have the time for your marketing hijinks and “secret email hacks”… just get to the point. Your first mistake in cold email outreach is assuming that people even care. Have you met the world around you? You’ve got about five seconds to make not just a good impression, but the perfect impression, and doing it via email is an uphill battle. 

Right now, open rates for cold emails average around 20%. Yeah, ouch. Well, get the ointment because what’s even more startling is that the response rate sits at a meager 1%. Yes, one, as in a single percent of all those cold emails will get a response. And that’s not even a conversion; it’s just an answer or a step further in the pipeline. How do you beat those odds? You learn to nail the email. 


Tip #1: Set up the entire sequence 


Once you finish a story, you go back at least a few times and edit the beginning, right? Your first cold email isn’t a static message—it’s the first of many. Therefore, you’ll want to take the time to create an email strategy that allows you to set up the entire outreach sequence. Create a string of messages that can be sent at various intervals. Generate the responses that you’ll send in return for responses that you get, based on their content. Be prepared for every possible outcome and have the entire sequence ready to roll out so that when you send that first email, the others are lined up for sending at the scheduled time. 

Not only will this ensure that your outreach follows and stays on track, but it will allow you to circle back to your first email after you’ve completed the strategy entirely and see where changes can be made. You might have new things to add, notice that there’s too much content, or even just see that you started from the wrong angle to arrive at the desired destination. It’s a great way to get perspective. 


Tip #2: Stop thinking of it as a “sales email”


When people think “sales” and they’re doing something in writing, it’s really easy to turn it into a sales pitch or advertisement. There needs to be a little pitch to your email, but not the full parade. Don’t focus on the sales part of the conversation so much as talking to people like they are, well, people. And not just people, but people with problems that you can solve. Watch how much more engaging your emails get when you take this approach. 

People get thousands of emails. They’re tired of people selling things and trying to pass it off as a “friendly help”. Everyone knows the gimmicks. Just keep it real and treat them like people, and you’ll be impressed at the response that you get. 


Tip #3: It’s not about you 


Too often, companies and sales agents want to go on and on about the business, the product, and the solutions that they provide. Sure, it’s fun to brag that you’re leading the industry or that you’ve got a product that’s won tons of awards—take it to your website. In your email, you need to be talking about them—the audience. 

What can you do for them? Why should they care about your product or service? Every time you make a point, relate it to the reader and how it benefits them. That reaffirms why they’re getting the email and what value they stand to gain, keeping them focused and making them feel valued. 


Tip #4: Stick to ONE clear, concise call-to-action (CTA)


Sales emails shouldn’t have five different CTAs. That gets confusing, and quickly. Keep it simple. Give people one call to action and make sure that it’s direct and delivers the message that you are trying to convey. You can’t be unclear because people are busy, and they don’t have time to figure out what you’re saying. They’ll wait for someone who spells it out for them. Spell it out for them. Provide a solution, give them a direct action to take, and then invite them to take that action for all the reasons that you’ve outlined. 

When you keep it simple, people pay attention. Less really is more when it comes to sales emails. 


Tip #5: Formatting, spelling, and grammar matter


How many times do you read a news article or social media post from a “professional” publication that’s ridden with typos or bad formatting? Nothing is worse than reading something published online and thinking that your child could’ve written something better. Grammar and spelling matter. Punctuation matters. Formatting matters. You’re not texting your friends. You’re trying to talk to prospects as a professional. That means you need to use professional business email protocols, which definitely doesn’t leave room for basic grammar and spelling issues. 

Use your spell-check. Then, use Grammarly or another editor. But don’t just blindly accept the suggestions you’re offered. Read about them. If you have to, research them. Make sure that you know why the change is being made so you can improve your grammar for the future. 


Let Smith.ai handle outbound sales support and more 


Of course, our final tip is the same as always: don’t do it yourself if you don’t have to. While you’re building your new sales strategy and creating the perfect campaigns, ask how Smith.ai can assist with outbound sales and support, along with admin and communications solutions like 24/7 website chat, scheduling and lead intake, after-hours phone answering, and so much more. 

We’ll even help you craft a strategy to ensure that follow-up is included in all your email marketing, whether you do it alone or with our help. Plus, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive solution that won’t break the bank. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your outbound sales prospecting and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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