5 B2B email templates & formulas that win business in 2017

by Ramin Assemi
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re in B2B sales, the world is against you.

OK, maybe not the entire world.

But when you’re a B2B sales professional, then your leads, prospects, email service, the government, industry executives and sometimes even the people on your team—they’re all against you.

Don’t take it personally—they’re not against you as an individual. It’s more that they’re against many of the practices and behaviors that have given sales professionals a bad rep.

Poor sales practices in the past have resulted in an industry where tracking down a single email address can become a two-week process, and where governments have even banned cold emails unless specific requirements are met.

So though it might seem like the world is against you, we’ve got your back here at Close.io. We’ve sent literally thousands of cold emails over the years and have learned quite a bit about which techniques lead to a conversion and which don’t. In this post, I’ll share with you five cold email approaches, along with templates for each, that you can use to increase your chances of success.

Want more proven email templates? Download them here!

The “right contact” approach

One of the most popular cold email strategies is asking the recipient if they’re the right point of contact. This approach has been leveraged for many years by sales professionals because it’s been proven to work.

The “right contact” approach is a great strategy especially when reaching out to senior executives at a company. (Steli Efti recently talked about this in a piece about enterprise sales pitfalls and the role that CEOs play in the sales cycle.) When taking this approach, you can establish buy-in or at least intrigue from a CEO, and then your request will be delegated down the organization to a more appropriate contact. The advantage is that when you engage a senior team member, they become connected to the outcome and can help you move the deal forward.

Here’s a sample email using this approach:

Subject: Are you the right person?

Hey [First Name] – I’m writing in hopes of finding the person at [Their Company] who handles [specific area of focus].

I also reached out to [Colleague 1] and [Colleague 2] to try and lock down someone at your company in this space. If you’re the appropriate person to chat with, let me know and I’d love to schedule some time to talk about [Your Company].

We help organizations like [their company] [problem you solve]. We’ve worked with others in your industry like [Company 1] and [Company 2] .

If you’re not the appropriate person to chat with, please let me know whom I should connect with.

The problem-focused approach

If you’re selling something, you’re obviously trying to solve a problem. The problem-focused approach to cold email strives to catch a recipient’s attention by revealing their problem and then asserting that you can solve it. Like so:

Subject: Managing payroll is rough. Let us help.

Hey [First Name] – As an entrepreneur, managing payroll is probably at the bottom of your list of things you want to be spending your time on, especially when your company is growing as much as I read in [article/software/etc].

You should be spending more time on [priority task] and less time dealing with 401ks, benefits and payroll management.

[Your Company] helps organizations like yours focus on what you do best while we manage the payroll. We’ve helped companies save money on accounting fees, free up time and find budget inefficiencies that were being overlooked.

If you’re tired of handling payroll and need some help, let’s schedule a time to chat. What’s your calendar like next week?

The email template above focuses heavily on the pain points of payroll and how the sender’s company could take those burdens off the recipient’s plate. By placing the problem front and center in the email, the salesperson forces the recipient to confront the problem and decide whether it actually resonates with them. This template is most successful for organizations selling a painkiller rather than a vitamin. A vitamin is a nice-to-have (but not must-have) product while a painkiller can have a meaningful and measurable impact on a business.

The central intelligence approach

Have you ever felt like you were being watched? What if I told you that I knew exactly what you ate last night, where you purchased the food and how it was made? You’d be interested, right? (And maybe a little creeped out, true.)

The central intelligence approach entails finding out something about the prospect’s existing business and putting that knowledge at the beginning of your email. For example, if you’re selling marketing automation software, you might write an email like this:

Subject: How’s [Competitor] working for you?

Hey [First Name] – I understand that you may be using [technology] as a [service delivered], and I was wondering what kind of results you’ve seen so far.

I’ve met a handful of companies using [Competitor] who have found [problem – scaling issues, glitch, missing feature, internal failure, etc]. In fact, many companies have turned to [Your Company] for assistance and leveraged our [solution] to increase [result].

I’ve got a bit of availability on Thursday and Friday this week if you have time for a quick call to discuss—let me know.

PS: Here’s a great rundown on why more [technology] users are [switching to or using] [Your Company].

In some industries, it will be pretty easy to find out what businesses or tools your leads are working with. In others, it might be a bit more challenging and require a little digging. Some tools that can help you gather this type of intelligence about a prospect are BuiltWith.com, DataNyze, NerydyData, and Wappalyzer. These tools can show you the web frameworks, ecommerce platforms, analytics tools, advertising networks and other programs and tools that companies are using simply by visiting their sites.

The curiosity hook approach

Understanding psychology can completely change the way you do sales. In a study conducted out of Carnegie Mellon University, researchers sought to find out why people open certain messages but not others. The researchers found that “participants wanted to open messages when they had moderate levels of uncertainty about the contents.” Meaning, the recipients were more likely to open an email that made them curious as to what was inside.

The best place to leverage curiosity is in the subject line for your email. Once you’ve done that, it’s important that the first one or two sentences continue to stir up curiosity in your reader. The template below is an example of how this could work for a cold B2B email:

Subject: What you should know about [service (e.g., payroll, inside sales, marketing)]

Hey [First Name],

Did you know [startling fact about the industry]? Crazy, right? When I found this out, I was kind of floored and it made me change the entire way I do business. Most recently, [Your Company] has started assisting companies like yours solve [problem] by tackling these three things:

  • Benefit
  • Benefit
  • Benefit

We’ve worked with clients like [Customer 1] and [Customer 2] and they’ve seen amazing results. If you’re interested in learning how we could help you, I’d love to schedule some time to chat.

In the meantime, I think you would also appreciate this blog post we wrote that highlights everything you should know about [service]: [LINK] — Check it out and let me know what you think.

My calendar is pretty flexible this Friday if you’re around for a call.

The 10x personalization approach

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen more and more executives complaining about the plethora of automated emails with no true personalization. These days, a lot of the traditional personalization tricks such as using a lead’s first name and mentioning their company in the email are not enough to stand out—even bots can do that. As a result, many executives are putting on their blinders and ignoring practically every cold email that hits their inbox.

So how can you stand out in a world of automated personalization?

Simple: Go above and beyond.

The 10x personalization approach is the idea of making sure the prospect feels like you’ve truly done your research. It’s not an easy approach to implement but if you’re going after enterprise deals, 10–20 minutes of research might be all it takes to cut through the clutter and close a game-changing customer.

The template below shows what an uber-personalized email might look like:

Subject: {First Name}, did I catch you? :)

Hey {First Name}
I hope this email finds you well! I wanted to reach out to you because we are in the same {LinkedIn Group, Slack Group, Association, etc} , {Link To Group} and I think I may have something interesting for you.

If I did my homework correctly you are spending {Estimate} per month on {Service relevant to yours} at {Company website} and {Any other information related to the spend}.

I work at a {Company Name} and we {Value proposition}. We can lower your monthly cost for {Service mentioned above} by XX% with very little effort.

Just reply to this email and I’ll give you a product demo.

Let me know what you think!

Wrapping things up

We’ve created a lot of cold email templates over the years. Our own team has taken advantage, and we continue to receive positive feedback from other sales professionals who’ve had success with these resources. But as much as we love sharing these templates to help sales professionals, we have to point out a reality that many salespeople overlook:

You’re not the only one using these templates.

Just as you found these cold email templates, someone else in your industry has likely also found and started using these templates. That’s why it’s important to never copy and paste an email and run with it as is. Instead, modify the templates to fit your own voice and your own story. Use these formulas as inspiration and leverage them as you begin crafting your own templates that will land real results.

Make sure to constantly experiment your way to more effective sales emails. Here’s just a few variables to test:

  • subject lines
  • sender names
  • changing or removing greetings
  • the email body text
  • timing
  • personalization
  • formatting
  • images
  • And more…

Personalization and differentiation is the key to cutting through the noise. Want more proven email templates? Click below to download templates, winning subject lines, and more!

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