Being able to start a conversation with anyone in the world is a super power. #truth
This is why being able to write masterful cold emails is an incredibly high leverage skill.
Today I’m going to share some of my juiciest, unconventional cold emailing tactics to help you connect and engage with anyone.
You’ll learn everything from how to find the right people to email and guess their email address, to some exact formulas you can plug and play and how to respond to common rebuttals if you’re selling something like “we work with a competitor.”
Scott: What’s up Competitive Edge listeners, thanks for tuning in. Today we have another selfie; that means it’s just going to be me and you and some awesome tactics. Tell me if any of these things sound like something that you would like more of in your life. Consistently generating new sales opportunities and partnerships, meeting the CEOs of companies that you admire, connecting and interviewing New York Times bestsellers and other entrepreneurs that interest you, make initial connections that could potentially turn into a mentorship, get free access to products and services. Now what do all of these things have in common? Well, in my personal life, all of these things have been the results of cold emailing and cold emails that I have sent, have got me these things.
And I think that whether you are in business or not in business, being one click from anyone in the world is an incredibly powerful place to be. And for me, that is why I have spent the past couple of years trying to get really good at cold emailing and why I think it’s such a high leverage skill for you to learn. So I recently did an interview on Growth Hacker TV on cold emailing and got ton of good feedback and so I thought today, I could share with you a lot of the tactics that I shared in that interview as well as some new ones that I have come up with recently and probably haven’t shared anywhere else.
And this has been a topic that I have multiple courses on, that got me a lot of deals in my last company and if you are interested in more of the things that we talk about in this particular podcast, [Inaudible 0:01:55] Coldemailmastery dot com that’s a course that I created, it’s about five hours long, has a ton of good stuff in there as well as just Life-long learner — if you go to Life-longlearner dot com which is my website and then head on over to ‘best stuff’ you’ll see a new cold emailing class as well as a business development class that I am coming out for people in the local space. To people that reach out to restaurants, spas or just businesses that have storefronts.
Anyways, let’s talk about cold emailing and give you some strategies and tactics. Real quick, I just want to address any concerns about the legality of sending cold emails; as an individual, you can absolutely send cold emails and as a business you can send unsolicited emails and messages as well. If you send these to like a one-off instance, not to like a mass list, I’m pretty sure that you can send emails to anybody and even if you do buy a list which I have never done, you are allowed to send unsolicited emails to the businesses.
And here are the guidelines, I’m pretty sure these are just for if you actually purchase a list to stay within the CAN-SPAM or the anti-spam act policy. Number one, the subject and header must not be misleading; number two, you must have a valid physical address in your email and number three, you must include a way to opt out from future communications. And you can go to the FTC website for more information on that but as far as I know, if you are an individual or you are sending one off email addresses, the sky is the limit for you, you can do whatever you want, this is all legal and you won’t get in trouble. Okay, now let’s go to the tactics now that we got that question out of the way and I guess we could start this off by really just saying why cold-emailing is a good thing to do and why I prefer it over cold-calling when we talk about getting meetings, we’re talking about connecting with people.
The thing about cold-calling you need to realize is that every time you cold-call someone, you’re basically interrupting their day. So odds are, that the person on the other end of the phone is not sitting there waiting for you to call them. They are probably working on a project, in a meeting, whatever it is and so I like cold emailing because I don’t want to start a relationship off with me interrupting you in the middle of the day. I much prefer to contact you about something that you might be interested in when you are ready to process that message. Emails are amazing because it’s an asynchronous communication mechanism, so every time you hit somebody, they are highly engaged in what you have to say because they are checking their email.
So for me, I mean that’s the number one reason why I much prefer cold emailing and ultimately whether you are going to be successful is by calibrating with the people that you are trying to reach. So for example, the last company that I worked at, Single Platform, a lot of these old-school business owners like the guys who run restaurants, they are not really good at emails. So doing the cold email strategies wasn’t always effective for them. A lot of times you had to penetrate their existing workflow with cold calls but a lot of bigger companies like publisher deals I’ve done, like connecting with some of these authors and stuff for the podcasts, their preferred communication mechanism is email. So that is the best place to reach them and you can even take this through to social media; there’s a lot of people that I have a better response rate from, when I hit them up on social media because that is how they communicate with people and that is where they hang out all day.
If I try to email them, it’s like a black box. So in general, you always want to try to reach out to people and connect with people on whatever platform they best communicate on and there are certain people in my network who I’m buds with, who I will always try to hit them up on Twitter or Facebook, over email, even though they use email a lot because they never get back to me and they have a zillion emails and I know the response rates is going to be faster. So just a real quick tidbit there is if you have busy friends, if you have busy people, try to understand which platform a particular person that you’re going to interact with frequently uses and gets back to you the fastest and keep a mental note on that and that’s the one you want to hit them up on.
And this can even extend to text messages as well by the way. But today, we’re going to focus on cold emailing and I want to give you guys really just the unconventional strategies because there’s a ton of blog posts and stuff out there that you have probably heard of and might seem obvious and today I just want to give you stuff that you probably haven’t heard of or you maybe didn’t think about or just different ways to approach this art of being one click away from anybody. So let’s dive in right now. So before you send the cold email, you have to figure out who the right person that you need to be emailing is.
This is especially the case when you’re trying to reach out to big companies and get deals with them or just trying to drum up new business because if you don’t get in touch with the right person, odds are that the person who is receiving it might not think it’s important and that person who actually needs to see it might never see it and then you are dead in the water before you’ve even given yourself a chance to succeed. So there’s a lot of different places where you can figure this out. If you don’t already know the decision maker, one of my favorite places to go is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is beautiful because it lists the hierarchy of a company and a lot of times in the profile descriptions of somebody it tells you exactly what they do at that company, which is awesome.
However, a lot of times there’s like 20 marketing directors or there’s a bunch of people who are potentially in charge of what you need to get in contact with that company for but you don’t really know. So one little trick that I want to give you is trying to look at the implicit data available on somebody’s LinkedIn profile. When you have like five or six different people that could be the decision maker or initial stakeholder, but you aren’t sure which one. So, implicit data can be used to narrow this down. Number one, there’s a ‘skills’ section on someone’s LinkedIn profile and this is basically skills they have been endorsed for by other people and I have a distinct picture in my mind of a LinkedIn profile that I’ve seen before where this person was a “marketing manager” at a company. And they had 13 endorsements for advertising, one for social media, one for branding, one for SEO and one for digital marketing.
Now, when you see that, do you think that this person is managing the advertising budget or the social media? Odds are because they have been endorsed by 12 different people for that one particular skill; this person is managing the ad budget. So the skills and [Inaudible 0:08:53], very good place to get this implicit data. Another place, somebody’s previous work history; a lot of times, the people, when they hired on to new companies, they’ll get lazy, they won’t fill out the profile description section and odds are like when you reach a certain level, people are hired for their expertise. So if somebody was a search engine marketing manager at their past company and it lists all the different things that they did and at the current company it just says, ‘regional manager’ or something, my guess is this person might be doing search engine marketing at the new company. They didn’t get hired for a director or VP position or something that they have never done before in most cases.
So you want to look at what this person has done in the previous work history if you don’t have a very descriptive profile. The third place you want to go is the ‘endorsement’ section. So this is where people basically write — at the bottom of the profile, other people write recommendations and kind words and if you pan through these, you can often see like specific projects that this person has worked on, maybe specific assignments and tasks and this is like a goldmine of finding out exactly what this person has done both at that company and previous companies. I mean these are all non-obvious places to kind of narrow down who that decision maker is. Okay so that’s some juicy, LinkedIn strategies for finding the decision maker.
So you know the strategy right now and it’s playing off the informational cold call. So a lot of times you don’t know who the right person is at a company, I’ll call in and ask hey, any chance — ‘hey, Scott Britton from so-and-so company here; any chance you know who manages the marketing department or social media marketing or whatever their initiative is?’ And a lot of times what happens is, when you don’t — when you call in and you don’t have a name of the person that you want to talk to, you’ll just get put through to a generic voicemail or not get somebody’s name that you can use to guess the email address to eventually email this person because you sound like a cold-caller, you sound like a sales person.
A lot of times this works but sometimes it doesn’t and one trick that I like to do is basically call in using the name of somebody who used to be responsible for that particular initiative. So, if you go on to LinkedIn and you search in the ‘company’ section, and you do an advanced search, you can actually pull up something that is called ‘previous work history’. That’s like a checkbox in a filtered search and in the keywords you can type in ‘marketing within a company’ and then you can type ‘previous work history’ and highlight that company. So basically you can find like the ex-marketing director and the ex-advertising person and all these people that maybe used to be the right person.
And the way that I came up and found out about this strategy is that I kept finding people on LinkedIn who used to be the right person but weren’t and it was really frustrating and then one day I called in and I asked for that person, I realized that a magical little strategy exists there. So what you do is you call in and you ask to speak to that person who used to be the right person. So, let’s say Mary Joe — I’m trying to connect with the director of marketing and Mary Joe Lane used to be that person. So you call in and say, ‘hi, can I speak to Mary Joe Lane please?’ And the person at the other end will say, ‘oh, you know what, Mary Joe actually doesn’t work here anymore.’ And then this is where you basically can say, ‘oh, you know, I know she used to manage marketing for you guys, is there any chance you might know who her replacement is?’
And often, you have a much higher likelihood of getting that right name now. And let’s talk about why for a second. When you reference somebody that used to work there, you’re signaling that you have familiarity with this company and if you have familiarity with this company, there’s just a higher likelihood this person at the other end thinks, ‘oh, this is important maybe they used to work with us’, whatever it is and that increases the compliance of them giving you the name of the right person that you need to talk to. So at no point — if you are wondering about like the efficacy of this tactic, I mean at no point are you lying, you are simply asking for somebody who used to work there with some inside knowledge that they probably don’t work there anymore.
So I don’t have any ethical issues with this but this is highly effective tactic that has worked a ton of different times for me. So again, you can go on to LinkedIn, find out who used to work there and call and ask for that person and then ask who the replacement is to get the right person. There’s a lot of other implicit data sources online that you can use to determine the first and last name of the people to eventually guess their email address outside of just LinkedIn. So, if you go to articles that have been written about the company or things like Quora which is a question-and-answer site or press releases, a lot of times there’ll be comments from people, I see this in a lot of tech-crunch articles.
Pay close attention to the person who is responding to the comments from the company. Often, that is your point person if that article is related to a particular initiative. So I remember very distinctively seeing companies answering questions on Quora about the marketing of their company or the business development or whatever. Guess who is answering the questions? The person who runs business development there, the person who runs marketing there, the person has expertise there and the same goes with articles and press releases. So pay attention to that and that’s an excellent place to figure out who the right person you need to get in touch with is. And you can simply Google the name of the company+article+PDF+ whatever it is to identify these articles and ultimately find out who the decision maker is.
So as I just mentioned earlier in this course that I was creating a product for local businesses on basically how to get in touch with the decision makers at businesses that have storefronts. And again, if you go to life-longlearner dot com, you go on — there’s a top tab that says ‘best stuff’, you’ll be able to find that product. I haven’t named it so that’s why I can’t disclose what the name of it is right now. But on Facebook, there’s actually a goldmine for getting this local business information. If you go to a local business’ Facebook page and you go to the ‘about’ section, a lot of times they are going to give you a manager name or they are going to give you a manager email address that you can use right there. Scott Britton Interview
Another clever little tactic that you can use is going to the pictures posted by that business and a lot of times, these businesses pose pictures of their staff, the owners or whoever it is. Go to those pictures and see the people’s names who are tagged at that business and once you see their names that are tagged on Facebook or they are responding to the comments on Facebook photo, go on to LinkedIn and search those names and see what that person is responsible for. This is kind of a reverse-engineering tactic that I’ve seen to be highly effective but I spent ten minutes doing it and I found the names of five owners of local business in my local home town by simply looking at who is tagged in the pictures of the business, who is responding to the comments. Scott Britton Interview
So another great tactic if we are talking about small-time businesses to basically find out who that person is that you need to email. Okay, there’s five strategies here, I got probably ten more that I can give but I want to cover a lot more different parts of the process here and so I am going to dive into the next section which is actually finding the email addresses of these people at the businesses that you can reach out to or your heroes or whoever it is that you are trying to connect with. Okay, so big part of the name of the game here in order to guess somebody’s email address is to get the full name of this individual and what you’re going to do that full name, which we just covered in how to get in that decision maker process is to use common syntaxes to try to guess the email.
So a lot of times, like one of my email is Scott at Life-longlearner dot com; so it’ll be the first name of the business owner at the website dot com or maybe it’s first initial last name or first name dot last name at the business website dot com and when you have these syntaxes and a full name, one of the first places that I like to go is Mailtester dot com. Mailtester is more or less a service that checks whether an email is registered on a particular domain. So basically the idea is that you just have plug in the common syntaxes and see whether the email address exists and if it does, it’ll say ’email is valid’ and if it doesn’t, it’ll say ’email is invalid’.
Another thing you can do is use the popular Gmail plug-in called Rapportive dot com and you can also get that at the show notes of this episode on Life-longlearner dot com. It is to do the same exact thing, guess the syntaxes and when you guess the email correctly, you’ll see on the right-hand side of your Google inbox, all the social profiles and online data available for that particular person and that is indicative that oh, you know what, that’s the right email address when I guess S-Britton at Life-longlearner dot com I don’t see anything on the right-hand side but when I get Scott at Life-longlearner dot com, well, there’s this Facebook, Twitter, Quora profile; all the different places he exists on line and that is the correct email address.
An unconventional tactic that I want to share is how you can use the Twitter search engine, Snap Bird; if you go to Snap Bird dot org, you can put in any handle and search the Twitter history of that particular handle. Now, why this is valuable is you can search things like ‘@ Gmail dot com’ or ‘@ Yahoo dot com’ and if you know the handle of the business or the person that you are trying to reach out to, you can identify those instances when that person has given away their email address on Twitter. So a little story here is one time I was trying to get the contact information of one of the most popular growth hackers on the internet and I couldn’t get a contact form on his site and I know that emailing through a contact form is pretty much a black hole and it seems super unfamiliar and I didn’t want to be just another person trying to get through the noise there.
So I went to Snap Bird, I put in his Twitter handle and then I just searched ‘@ Gmail dot com’ and I was able to identify a specific instance where he gave away this random Gmail handle that had nothing to do with his name or website or anything and was able to hit him up on his personal email. You can also do things too like you can type in different words that would be indicative that that business would use to respond to somebody on Twitter. So you can type like ’email’ or ’email us’ or ‘marketing’ or whatever it is, whoever you are trying to get in contact with; think of the words that they might respond to somebody who is tweeting at them where those email addresses might exist.
This is super-powerful and you can even find decision makers this way. A lot of times people will ask on Twitter, ‘hey, who should I reach out to about this?’ And if you can identify and isolate those conversations, then you can find the decision maker just through the Twitter response right there. Super valuable. Another place that I like to go is Manta dot com; a lot of people don’t know about this. Think of it like the yellow pages but for businesses, B2B, so instead of serving consumers, it is serving businesses that are trying to sell to other businesses. Why this is valuable is that you can find a ton of information that is relevant to the actual business, like who the owner is, what their email address is, how long they have been in business.
A lot of times, especially in the local business space, you’ll be able to find all this information just on Manta; you don’t even have to go to all these different places. So I highly recommend checking that site out, that’s great. And another really cool little sly tactic is take advantage of Slideshare on YouTube. So a lot of people when they give presentations, at the end, they’ll have like ‘for more information, contact us at XYZ’ and so I first like to go to Slideshare and I’ll type in an at (@) symbol plus the name of the company and I usually — if this company or this person has happened to upload a Slideshare, you’ll be able to find an email address. So for example, if you go to Slideshare dot com right now and you type in ‘@ Life-longlearner dot com’ in the search bar, you will find a presentation on sleep hacking where in the last slide I give away my email address.
So all the text on all those slides is searchable. So you want to type the ‘@’ and the domain name of the person you are trying to reach out to and you’ll probably be able to find A- potentially that person’s email address or in the very least, see the naming convention that that company uses for email that you can then plug and play using the name of the decision maker. Same goes on YouTube, the challenge is that YouTube is not as searchable but if you go on there and if you find presentations by a particular person that you are trying to reach out to, at the end, they’ll often have a slide in the presentation like hey, you can reach out to me on this and this is my email which is an excellent way to again, identify the email addresses of these people.
And come to think of it, I just realized that a lot of people own podcast actually give away their email addresses, like yeah, you can email me directly at whatever. So go to podcasts and then fast forward to that little section where people say, ‘where is the best place to find more information about you?’ for that particular guest and see if that person gives away that email address. It’s another place you can go. Okay, so there’s a ton more tactics that are out there but those should give you a good baseline and starting place to find email addresses once you have a full name. Let’s go into what I call ’email mindset’ and this is a foundational thing that you should think about whenever you are crafting cold emails and honestly whenever you are crafting emails in general because for your emails to be effective, the first thing you need to do is to make sure they get read.
And I like to apply what I call a ‘copywriter’s mindset’ to my email. So the foundation of the copywriter’s mindset is that in order for somebody to respond to your email, they first have to read it and way that people read is a progressive process. So in order for me to first open the email, you have to write a subject line that gets somebody to do that and in order for me to read the second sentence, I have to read the first sentence. So the way to think about it is like small goals. The goal of the subject line is to get somebody to open up the email, the goal of the first sentence is to get somebody to read the second sentence, the goal of the second sentence is to get somebody to read the third sentence, the goal of the third sentence is to get somebody to read the fourth sentence and the goal of the fourth sentence, if you have one, is to get somebody to respond.
And that is the way that I think about these emails as I write them because a lot of people, they just write these like Bill Shakespeare novels that don’t have any sequential thought behind them and you have to realize that if you don’t captivate somebody’s attention in the subject line, they might not open it and if you don’t captivate somebody’s attention in the first sentence, they are probably not going to read the second, third and fourth and so on and eventually get back to you. So you have to think about the structure of your email in that way and keep in mind that you are basically competing for somebody’s attention. So in today’s world, I mean if you are emailing anybody important or busy — probably get a ton of emails, like I get 150-200 emails a day, that is a lot and there’s people out there that get way more than me.
So if they don’t know me, like I got to stand out because a lot of emails that they are probably getting are probably from people that they already trust and know. So the goal of a lot of these — the first sentence, the subject line is to get somebody’s attention and also to make it as frictionless and easy as possible for this person to read the email and get back to me. When somebody opens up an email and it’s like 8-10 sentence long, if they don’t know you, they are going to look at it and be like ‘okay, this looks like a lot of work to read and respond to, I don’t know this person, my life is great or whatever, I’m out, I’m not going to do this’. So when you think about that, that brings to mind that you want to keep email short.
I aim for three to four sentences in those cold emails. Another important component to this is you also want to space them properly. The difference between four sentences that are spaced one sentence apart each and four sentences that are jumbled together in terms of the perceived amount of work it takes to read and respond to that is totally different. So you want to exercise spacing, a general rule of thumb here is that I never try to have more than two sentences together without a line paragraph break because it’s just easier to read. Now I hear a lot of people probably listening to this are like ‘dude, how can you possibly include everything that you need to within three or four sentences?’ Well, my response to you is, the goal of the first email isn’t to sell the whole barn, it’s to start a dialogue and once you start a dialogue and you build a conversational chain, then it is easier to get the people to commit to things and then start to insert information that allows you to take it to the next step.
So my goal with a lot of first emails is just to get somebody to respond and after somebody has brought in then I will ask for something that has a higher — maybe more friction in terms of compliance like asking for meeting or asking for somebody to get together with me or whatever it is. And here’s a little trick; if you really need to include more than three or four sentences, include three to four sentences, sign off like ‘best’, your name and then space out like three line breaks below that and then type in a by the way ‘BTW’ or ‘PS’ and then add an additional two to three sentences.
So this is something that I would do in my podcast, I would write a three-sentence email asking somebody to come on to my show, sign off my name and then I would put three line breaks down there and then say, ‘by the way, if you’re curious about what The Competitive Edge is, here’s a quick description’ and this allows that person when they first saw the email to see the top part, like ‘oh, this is three sentences, this isn’t that daunting’ and that separated ‘by the way’ section wasn’t jumbled in with the larger email body to make it seem like it was daunting to reply to. So these are things that I just like to keep in mind with my email mindset and another thing that I’ll talk about real quick, and I’m just kind of shooting from the hip here but the stuff is important and I get a lot of questions in the courses that I teach and the training and coaching that I do is, what do I say like, how do I address people?
And my mindset is, I like to be informal and I want to put myself in the bucket of how people converse with their friends and trusted colleagues. So friends and trusted colleagues do not send emails that say “Dear” right? When your friend emails you or maybe somebody who is s trusted colleague, they might say “Hi!” they might say “Hey” and I want to get informal on email as fast as possible. And you always want to calibrate with like the person on the other side of the conversation but generally, I want to separate myself from the people that are selling stuff and pushing stuff as fast as possible. My way to do that is to take the conversation informal as soon as it’s appropriate to do there and what you want to do here is kind of calibrate and mirror the tone of your prospect.
So, if the person that you are reaching out to, if you notice on Twitter or Facebook or wherever they are or maybe in their writing, if they are using smiley faces and are super-informal then, just start off from the gun. Like say, “Hey” and then you say “Hey” when you write to them and then in the email copy use smiley faces and winky faces and all that stuff that shows that you are normal fun person. If you have a prospect you don’t know who would do that, have a more formal email and say “Hi” in the beginning, write the email and then in the second email, you want to try to open him up to too informalist — you want to use colloquial dialogue, things like “Hey”, maybe a smiley face in there, maybe dot-dot-dots; things that make you seem more human and not like another sales or business development guy who is an Excel jockey running down 500 sales on a hit-list.
And eventually, the goal is you want to take these emails which seem like letters to text messages where eventually, you are not even including an address when you are emailing somebody but after maybe the fourth or the fifth email, it’s just the back and forth without any address. It’s just the actual questions that you are asking, the things that you are responding to and then that’s like how they email their friends. So you want to put yourself in that bucket and show that you are cool person because the bottom-line is, when it comes to business, when it comes to interviews, when it comes to spending time with people, people want to spend time with and do business with people they like.
And as far as I am concerned, 90% of the people in my experience like fun, casual, laidback people. They don’t like high-strung, formal people. It’s not as fun to interact with them, so you want to demonstrate that in your email copy as soon as you can, within the confines of it being appropriate. That’s really a feel thing that you have to develop over time but being able to direct a conversation to an informal tone at the apt time is very valuable skill and something that you can enjoy in your rapport with somebody that you don’t know much faster. It’s just a way to accelerate the bond with somebody that you don’t know and separate yourself from all the people out there that are not writing like that because most cold emails I get suck and they are like ‘dear so-and-so, I am this cool person from this company and’ — that doesn’t sound like somebody that’s fun. So, that’s just my two cents on that.
And actually, an important topic that I want to bring up here is just that first sentence, because this is something that I see a lot. You know we talked about how being concise and short is important, we just talked about how being somebody that you don’t want to hang out with coming off of as that is something important. I see a lot of people that write their emails and in the first sentence it’s “Hi, my name is Scott Britton from Life-longlearner dot com. I’ve been featured in such magazines’ or ‘my company has been backed by’ whatever and the way that I like to think about this is, what type of person would you want to interact with at a bar? If somebody came up to you and started declaring them self and how awesome they were, would that person be interesting? Would you want to talk to that person? I certainly wouldn’t.
Like if somebody came up and was like, ‘I’m really cool and I raise all this money; by the way, the name is Scott anyways tell me about yourself’. Like that is so not good social skills. So I try to act the same way in my emails, the first sentence I never make a town-crier declaration about myself, it’s always about the prospect. It’s always an enquiry, maybe it’s something like ‘hey, I noticed that this particular thing, you were on this podcast’ or ‘I absolutely loved your book’ or something about that person that is going to make them feel good or grab their attention. That is the goal and just the general tone of the emails, I always just like to do the bar test. If I read this — if somebody came up to me and said this at a bar, would I be interested in talking to this person or would I think that this person is a total self-absorbed tool?
And if it’s the later, you want to change your copy. And then an effective practice to even write an email is just record yourself asking this person a question or starting a dialogue with this person, transcribe that or listen to it and then write the email from that. And that’s a great way to kind of inject this — make sure that you inject this conversational tone and you’re removing yourself from the crappy email conventions that some sales guru or email guy taught you about. It really dehumanizes you and for some reason, people continue to follow even though they are highly ineffective, as far as I am concerned. Okay, I’m off my soapbox about that, [Laughter] let’s talk about specific formulas that you can use today that have worked for me and are applicable across multiple industries and situations.
The first formula is one of my favorites, it’s something I used a ton at Single Platform, I used a ton in my podcast with world-class guests and it’s called ‘the bandage formula’. And the idea here is, again coming back to this first sentence, your goal is to grab somebody’s attention and the reason I call it the bandage formula, is the high level structure this email is the first you want to irritate the wound and then provide the bandage. So what the heck do I mean by that? First sentence is, you should be trying to glaringly identify the thing which you can help with or that can be optimized and you want to also mention this in your title; that is the wound. Then you want to follow this by introducing your solution or ability to resolve the shortcoming.
Let me give you a specific example. So let’s say the prospect’s name is John and you are selling a marketing solution. ‘Hi John, I noticed that your site currently isn’t running my marketing solution, whatever it’s called which typically increases customer signups by 20%. Implementing our marketing solution is actually something that we help companies with like yours, all the time. In fact, it’s something that is referenceable; deal one, two and three are taken advantage of right now. If there’s a day next week and if you have ten minutes I’d love to connect so we can talk about getting this taken care of for you.’ So let’s go ahead and break this down and that’s a four-sentence email.
So first sentence, the goal is to irritate the wound by telling the prospect that you notice that they are under-optimized and I love the phrase, ‘I noticed’ because that seems like a very personal — as a matter-of-fact observation that caused you reach out. It does not position yourself as somebody who is looking at a giant spreadsheet and going down one by one and just firing off emails and carpet-bombing anybody under the sun. It comes off as somebody that — ‘hey I was online, I was already doing this thing and I noticed your site doesn’t have this thing which actually is going to make you much better’ and what I’ll do in this sense is, I’ll put a hyperlink somewhere that allows that person to click and easily verify the under-optimization that I am referencing.
This could be a particular part of their site, it could be a case-study or resource that demonstrates the value of that particular thing that I mentioned in this instance or where I talked about increasing conversion rates by 20%. I could link to testimonials or case studies in our site, I could link to the part on their site where they are missing that thing. Whatever it is, the goal here is to provide verifiable evidence to your initial wound indicator. Now the second sentence is where you are going to list the facts that you can help this person. Implementing this solution is actually something that we help companies with like yours all the time and after that, I’ll throw in some social proof if I have it. So that’s what we do for companies like XYZ or in fact, these particular companies or people are taking advantage of it right now and you want to make it easy again for these people to verify, that you are a legitimate player, you should be taken seriously and that they are potentially missing out on something which is a huge motivator.
We as humans are more afraid of losing or missing out on things than personal gain and that’s a big reason why when you reference that other people are doing something and throw some social proof in there, that’s a motivating factor to get people to act and in this case to reply because that FOMO is a very powerful force that is prevalent across the internet and there’s a ton of different sites that backed it up but I’ll let you research those yourself if you want. Last sentence, ‘if there is a day next week, when you have ten minutes, I’d like to connect so we can talk about getting this taken care for you’. Key elements, ‘ten minutes’, so you want to make it seem super-low time commitment and if you say like ‘an hour’ or whatever, this person is going to be like, ‘I don’t know this person, why would I want to hop on a call for that long?’
So I’d like to say ten minutes and hopefully, an initial qualifying call only does take ten minutes but if it takes longer than that and you are worried about potentially misleading this person, when you get on the phone call, you can say to them, ‘hey I know I said this call is going to take 10 minutes, but sometimes with different people that I talk about our business with, we kind of get excited and we really dive deep into how we can help them and things actually end up taking half hour. Before we go any further, I want to make sure that if that’s the case, that’s okay with you and if not, I’m happy to try to condense this in 10 minutes or as fast as possible’ or whatever it is. So that’s a way to handle that and be honest and ethical when you get on the phone with this person because you don’t want to be misleading, again, first impressions are everything.
And then I want to talk about this key phrase here at the last sentence, ‘I’d love to connect so we can talk about getting this taken care of for you’ and that phrase, ‘getting this taken care of for you’, signals that this is an obvious under-optimization that needs to get fixed that other people are doing. It is informal and it makes it seem like it is not a big deal and that you want to help this person out. That is, in my opinion, incredibly powerful, I’ve seen it work, I’ve tested this last sentence and I mean it’s just super-effective. There’s just a lot of people out there like, ‘don’t you want to finish with the direct call to action, or direct question?’ That can work too. I have split tested, I don’t see a significant difference between this and some of the other direct CTA things, I have actually gotten a high response rate when I have said things like ‘I’d love to connect so we can talk about getting this taken care for you?’
And I think it’s because of the psychological factors at play that this phrase signals when you say something like that. If you are not comfortable with that, you might want to finish the sentence off and this will kind of get into our next formula, the dialogue builder; you just ask a question that allows them to respond to you and you start a conversational thread before you end up asking for somebody’s time. You might say something like — and this is a great way to qualify clients too by the way which we talked about in the Aaron Ross interview if you listened to that, is ‘adding this type of solution something that you guys are currently thinking about’ or ‘have you used this type of solution in the past?’
And this is a great question that you can ask not only to build a dialogue but to also understand whether talking to somebody is going to be a total waste of time. If somebody doesn’t even know what this is or is already working with a competitor and they are not going to move or just some factor that you see as a red flag asking a question there that surfaces the answer to whether that person is an ideal client and whether there is a red flag there, it’s a very powerful thing you can do and kind of allows you to cut out the time wasters in the cold email process before you hop on the phone with somebody and find out that, oh, it turns out that this person is never going to work with us for whatever reason.
So that’s the ‘bandage email’ formula, you can adapt that to whatever your industry is however you can help people, it’s super-effective and if you want more examples of that, I would [Inaudible 0:43:46] either Cold Email Mastery or any of the other email posts that I have written; you can just Google my name and Cold Email and you’ll get some good stuff on it. Okay, let’s talk about the ‘dialogue builder’ and this is another one that builds upon this theme of when people are in a conversation with you and they have committed and they have replied to you a couple of times, they are more likely to be congruent with getting back to you and committing to you and are going to be more likely to want to get on a meeting with you or get on a podcast with you or whatever your ask is.
So the goal of the initial email is to really just be in a dialogue and what is also valuable about this is that when you have a dialogue with somebody, you have more touch-points to provide value to them to understand what they care about and ultimately figure out how you can help them and that makes it — and once you have that diagnosis, it makes it much easier to position a potential ‘ask’ that somebody is going to care about. So what I’ll do is, I’ll basically ask a question that is an obvious yes and then indicate some type of bait more or less that might get them interested in responding to me. So subject line is going to be something like the prospect’s name and then a quick question for you and then I’ll say “Hi”, first name, ‘are you currently’ — something they are obviously going to say ‘yes’ to.
So if I was reaching out to a blogger like, ‘hey are you currently trying to grow your email list'; if I was reaching out to a catering company, ‘are you currently at capacity?’ If I was reaching out to a physical therapist, ‘are you currently accepting new clients?’ The goal of this thing is for that person to read that first sentence and go “uh-huh yeah” like a bobble head. And then in the next sentence you want to indicate and transition into how you are working with people to help them achieve that and I like to take in some instances, in a highly crowed market, take a buyer’s mentality or the mentality of I want this person to qualify or to want to start them to qualify themselves to work with me or whatever it is because there’s a lot of noise and this person is getting a lot of emails, a lot of people will basically look at like sales emails that people are constantly trying to push through products or ideas or commitment on somebody like I don’t want this.
But all of a sudden, if you demonstrate some status and then indicate to this person that you are interested in whether they fit that status, that’s a powerful place to come from. So, the next sentence would be something like ‘we are working with some of the top businesses’ or top bloggers or the top whatever to drive more value. So we’re working with some of the top physical therapists in Lower Bucks County, which is my hometown, to help them get new clients and I wanted to see if you guys were a good fit. That’s it, I mean that is it. So asking whether this person is accepting the obvious thing, then in the next sentence indicating some status so like we’re working with some of the top whatever to drive whatever value is and I want to see if you’re a good fit.
And that person is going to get back to you and be like ‘what the heck? What are they talking about?’ And you can be like ‘yeah, I am trying to drive new clients and tell me more about your business, tell me more about your company’. A big mistake that I see in cold emails is a lot of people give away too much information and when you give away too much information, that person feels like they can make the decision about whether they want to hop on a phone call with you or commit to something before you’ve even given yourself a chance to sell yourself. You are always going to be able to sell better in person over the phone than you are going to be able to — than like static text or PDF.
This is why I suggest, nobody ever — never attach a PowerPoint or a deck or anything to a cold email because you’re basically saying to that person, ‘hey make the decision before I get to talk to you and this text thing is actually going to disarm all your concerns and be able to dynamically respond better than meeting on the phone’. That is just not the case at all and so you don’t want to give away too much information that allows this person to basically make the decision before you’ve gotten a chance to talk to them. So that’s the dialogue builder, it’s worked awesomely for me and I figured a good thing that we can transition to real quick is how to handle some of the common responses that we get not only with the bandage email and the dialogue builder but just with a lot of cold emails out there.
So let’s go ahead and start with when you send a cold email out and you don’t get a response, what do you do? Well, I think first you got to realize that the reason the people didn’t respond to you was often not because they are not interested, maybe it got lost in their inbox, maybe their kid had a bad day at school and they declared email bankruptcy or maybe they meant to get back to you and they forgot about it. A lot of times, people don’t respond to you has nothing to do with the fact that they are not interested and that is an empowering mindset because it should allow you to be okay and more excited about being persistent and following up with this person.
So, if I don’t get a response three to seven days after I have emailed somebody, what I do is, I pull up that initial email and I reply to it still emailing that contact and I’ll say something like ‘Hi John, I wanted to see if you had a chance to read my email below regarding improving your site metrics’ or whatever it is that you emailed them about. ‘Is this something that you guys are currently interested in?’ Or ‘Is this a focus for you right now?’ Or ‘have you ever thought about this?’ Whatever it is, ask them a question and the reason — the key thing here and I say a lot of people mess this up is that you reply to the original email. A lot of people will send a follow up email that is on a different thread and when you email somebody in two places, they have to work to get more context of why you emailed them.
So they have to go find the other email, your email is going to be longer; when I send an email that is two sentences long, and all the details of why I’m reaching out is below that original email, that is super-easy for that person. They can just look down, get all the information they need and when they see the one or two sentences, it doesn’t look daunting at all which makes them more likely to respond. So, I mean, this is a totally the way to respond when somebody doesn’t get back to you and I have seen response rates go up 50% when you take this strategy. Now a huge thing that people mess up is they forget to be persistent and follow up.
So I use a tool called Boomerang to help automate the process of having to remember following up with somebody. I used Gmail and I will send an email and as soon as I send the email, a little yellow box in Gmail that says ‘undo’ or ‘view message’. I’ll click that and then I’ll click the Boomerang for Gmail plug-in and have that sent back to me in four days. In this way I know — this is a trigger that I am creating that if that person hasn’t got back to me in four days and that message comes back into my inbox, I’m just going to ‘reply all’ and make sure that they responded. And I mean this little strategy is something I use for everything; when I ask my roommates for something and I want to make sure that they did that thing, I’ll send a Boomerang back to myself in four days.
Whenever I ask anybody for anything and I want to close the loop there or I want to make sure there’s no open loops, I’m constantly ‘boomeranging’ myself messages after I’ve sent it to them so that I remember and don’t have to hope that I happen to think of this thing that I asked for and then take the action that I need to get something done that hasn’t been already. Another common response that you are going to get when you cold email people, especially if you are not a big qualifier is, ‘we work with competitors’ or ‘we’re working with somebody else’ or whatever it is and when we talk about positioning, and this is a little businessy and so I realize there are some people in here that might be listening to this and might be focused on like how to reach out to potential mentors but a lot of the same principles apply here.
When we talk about positioning yourself and competitors and all that kind of good stuff and strategy, you always want to be — unless you are 10X better than somebody, you always want to be different if you want to make it past somebody who has an incumbent product or service because when you’re just a little bit better, or a little bit cheaper or whatever it is, usually the switching cost are too high for that person to want to make a change. So the way that you can get a around that is you position yourself as unique or different and in my case, I always like to go complementary. Because the truth is, no two products or services are the same and because they are not the same and you can provide potentially additional value, that makes you complementary.
So for example, if I was selling a marketing automation software and it turns out somebody else is working with another marketing automation company and they get back to me and they say, ‘hey thanks we’re all set here, we work with XYZ market automation company’. Well, I would do there is try to highlight the unique difference that I provide and how we actually are often used in tandem with that company, if that is the case. So you might say something like ‘hey, that’s great, it’s amazing that you see the value in marketing automation but the thing is that our company is actually different and we actually provide this particular unique ability that right now so-and-so doesn’t have and for this reason, there’s a lot of companies out there that use both of our products to get enhanced results. In fact many of our customers think that we are a one-two punch.
And what I have done there is try to reframe the response from okay, I’m evaluating apples versus apples to — I’m currently using an apple and this guy is telling me about a watermelon and perhaps apples and watermelon is going to be a great lunch. [Laughter] I don’t know if that makes any sense what I just said but the analogy made sense in my head when I thought of it. So the idea here is that you want to always try to refrain yourself as different or unique and when there’s an incumbent player there, try to bring up and start a dialogue around how you can use your solution with what they are already doing or your service or whatever it is that you do with that particular thing.
And a lot of times, a great thing that you can do here is offer to educate somebody because people love learning, they love new things, they like honing their craft and sharpening their spear. So if your unique ability is something that this person doesn’t know about, you can ask him a question that will ‘Segway’ into you potentially offering an opportunity to hop on a call with them and then educate them on that particular thing. Okay, so let’s get to — one of the final comment or response that you’ll get when you cold email that I see a lot besides no context is somebody says just flat out like we’re not interested or we’re not a priority right now; how do you deal with that?
Well, the number one thing that you can do is try to get to the bottom of why they are not interested because when you understand why something is not a priority or why they are not interested, only then can you disarm that person and iterate on your positioning so that you could potentially be interesting. So when somebody says you know what, appreciate it, not interested right now, thanks for the email; here’s an example of how I would respond: ‘thanks for getting back to me, totally understand you have a million things going on right now and appreciate your candid response. Any particular reason why this isn’t a good fit right now?’
That’s it or you can expand on it by saying something like ‘the reason I ask is because some of our successful clients felt the same way until we were able to educate them on the power of whatever unique value proposition or initiative is and the goal here again is to figure out why this person isn’t interested and if you want me to entice them about how somebody else has gotten a lot of success that used to feel that way and really just try to get an understanding so that you can basically come back at them and have a better idea of what might be enticing to them to get them to do a 180.
Another thing you can do in this case, is especially if somebody says, ‘this isn’t a focus right now’, that to me is like a giant flashing light of — this isn’t a focus right now but when this is a focus, I want to be the first person that they think of, how can I get mind share, how can I be on top of mind? And the only way for you to be top of mind is consistency. There’s a statistic out there that says like somebody needs to see you seven times online or something before they think to buy something; or before they remember you without you prompting them. So in that instance when somebody says, ‘you’re not an issue right now’, what I would like to do is ask for the permission if I can — if this is a high-value prospect or somebody that I want to build a relationship with or whatever, ask for their permission to periodically send them information that’s going to keep you top of mind.
So I might say something like, ‘totally understand, one of the things that we do is pick out the top three to four articles on how — whatever it is that they do, improve our best practices to send — you want to pick something that is relevant to this person and send them to people that we see as influencers ever single month. Would you be interested in receiving these articles or would you like to take advantage of the curation or would be okay if I sent you these three or four articles every single month?’ And at that point, most people are going to say ‘yes’, like most people want the top three to four articles that are going to make them better every month. So you want to pick something that is an absolute no-brainer that you are actually going to execute of course, that this person will comply to hearing from you every single month.
Another thing you can do is, if you have a software product or something like that, say something like ‘totally understand, that’s absolutely cool. We’re constantly innovating and coming out with new features that are changing the industry and are helping people get X results. If you want, I can keep you in the loop as we unleash these features and want to make sense to talk we can hop on a call if the timing is right’. And usually a lot of times people say ‘yes’ and if they say ‘no’, then you can then go ahead and position yourself for the article ask. The goal is though, to take that ‘no’ and to establish an ongoing consistent touch-point that allows you to be the person in the frontal cortex when they are like ‘okay, we need X solution that you provide'; that’s the goal.
Okay, so this had been a little sampling here, a good little selfie on cold emailing and a sampling of some of the more specific training I do and again, this is so valuable because if you can get in touch with anyone in the world simply by sending an email, that is a powerful place to be. It’s pretty awesome and I hope that you’ve learnt some stuff here. If you want more information on this, go on over to Life-longlearner, there’s a company blog post that talks about some of the key points here that we went over as well as full transcripts. So you can get some of the scripts in there if you want and also, I encourage you to go check out the Life-longlearner Mindshare group.
We have hundreds of people over there on Facebook, if you type in ‘Mindshare’ on Facebook, you should be able to join it, it’s an open group so everybody can join and basically people are constantly sharing business tactics like this, like cold emails. I do a lot of Screencast of just the stuff that I am doing in my business that’s kind of like behind-the-scene view and you can get all that right there for free. So just Facebook dot com and just search ‘Mindshare’ and ask to join and I’ll approve you when I get a chance. Thank you so much for your time today, really appreciate it; if you have any questions, just ask in the comments in the blog post and I hope this has been helpful.
And if there’s other topics that you would like me to potentially do another self-interview on, or have somebody on there, let me know on Twitter. Maybe we can do another one of these around the topic that you are interested in. Thanks again, have an awesome day.
[End of interview 1:02:18]