A 5-Step Formula for Sending Highly Personalized Sales Emails at Scale

In our previous post, The False Promise of Automation and the Misconception of Personalization, we talked about how automation doesn’t always lead to increased effectiveness and efficiency. With the new technologies available, you might be able to send highly customized emails at scale but you’re still not able to send highly personalized emails at scale.

We wrapped up the post with a great example of a highly personalized cold email I received, and played Monday morning QB by analyzing why it was effective.

For a refresher, here’s the email:

personalized cold sales email
There’s no doubt that this rep took the time to do his research. The question we posed at the end of our last post was “How can I set up a system to send highly personalized emails without spending too much extra time?”

Well, we’ve found that it’s all about setting up the right process and employing the right tools and tactics. Let’s dive in.


Finding the Right Approach for Your Sales Team

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A sale is not made based on the tools used, but rather the process. Nail down the process, and use the tools to make it scalable.

Before we begin, let’s make sure this approach is the right fit for your business model. An effective sales process maximizes the productivity of both the SDRs and the AEs. The two main models for sales development are setting introductory meetings and generating qualified opportunities.

In her book, The Sales Development Playbook, Trish Bertuzzi explains, “you should deploy an introductory meeting model when the market for your product is immature and/or when your account executives need more at-bats.” She advocates for generating qualified opportunities when, “Your SDRs are booking meetings with the right types of companies, the right people and the prospects are at least curious about addressing a potential pain point.”

Further, if you’re team is taking an account based selling approach, then there’s an even stronger argument for taking the time and focusing on quality. I’ve recently talked to experts like Max Altschuler, Trish Bertuzzi, Craig Elias, John Barrow and Richard Harris for a podcast we’re launching soon (stay tuned!). They all strongly believe 2016 will be a year for account based selling (ABS).


Setting Up a Process for Personalizing Emails at Scale

If you’re not already taking an ABS approach, you won’t be able to flip a switch and transition into this model overnight. It begins with a really good implementation of your CRM, such as Salesforce, and outbound sales platform, such as PersistIQ. You need to be meticulously tracking data and useful information in your system. If you’re starting from scratch it may seem daunting, but if you don’t start now you’ll never have the data.

Last thing I want to note is the importance of working hand-in-hand with your marketing team. Yes, sales and marketing often butt heads, but remember ultimately you’re on the same team.

Step 1) Identify all the possible decision makers for your ideal account.

At this point, all savvy sales teams and managers know to create an Ideal Client Profile, or ICP. However, what many miss is the need to create an Ideal Account Profile, or IAP. This is one level above the ICP. After you identify all the geographic and firmographic data of your ideal account, then you can start creating your ICPs within that account. In the book The Challenger Customer, Adamson, Dixon and Spenner reveal data showing that there’s now an average of 5.2 decision makers that you need to sell to, so you should have 5 or more separate ICPs within your IAP.

More on finding the decision makers using connections, org mapping and outbound prospecting here.


Step 2) Collect relevant data on your prospects.

You’ll use this data as your variables when you’re sending out emails. Not all variables are created equal. There are standard variables, but there are also things we call snippets, which we’ll get to in a minute.

First, collect your standard variables. You’ll input this data into the appropriate field in our CRM or cell in your database. Use your favorite sales intelligence platform or lead sourcing service to get as much basic information on your prospects as you can. During this step you can, and frankly should, automate with the right technology in your sales stack.

Standard variables at the very least should include:

  • First and last name
  • Email
  • Company
  • Position/title
  • Website
  • Phone (direct line if possible)
  • LinkedIn profile

Next, connect deeper. Use your detective skills to discover more meaningful and personal connections with your prospects. This could be any of the following:

  • A recent blog post they’ve written along with why you liked it
  • Colleagues’ names along with their positions
  • Recent business challenges they’ve expressed and that you’ve help other companies overcome
  • Alma Mater
  • Recent awards, recognitions or press
  • Case studies you have on companies similar to the one you’re prospecting
  • Relevant events or news that affects your prospect

You get the idea — this is any and all information that would help you build trust and rapport with a prospect. Once you find a good point of connection, don’t just stop there – keep going; you may need additional points in follow up emails.

Okay so here’s the secret: For most of these variables, you can use what PersistIQ calls “snippets.” A snippet is simply a variable but rather than one or two words, it could be an entire sentence or paragraph in the “snippet” column of your spreadsheet, then insert it as a stand-alone piece in the email. For instance, looking back at our example, the first bullet could be an entire custom variable, or snippet, on it’s own.  

Here are 6 Advanced LinkedIn Prospecting Tactics to help you become a sales sniper.

Step 3) Create an outbound email template for each ICP

Each ICP will have their own unique pain points. Therefore, each should have his/her own communication personalized to fit specific needs.

Using standard variables and snippets, you can start writing templates. You can even take good cold emails that you’ve received and turn them into templates.

Here’s what a template would look like from the previous cold email I received:

[subject]: {{custom subject line}}

[body] Hi {{first name}},

First and foremost, congrats on {{snippet 1: accomplishment}}! And after reading your recent post on {{blog post title}}, {{snippet 2: thoughts on the post}}.

Secondly, I wanted to see if we could schedule a 20 minutes on {{date}}. After reviewing your site {{snippet 3: positive observation}}.

If given the opportunity, I would like to:

{{snippet 4: another piece to build rapport}}

-Highlight how we’ve helped Gusto increased their outbound sales productivity by 10X.

-Discuss the direct impact we’d have on the day-to-day effectiveness of your {{position}}, like {{colleague’s name}}.

Is {{date}} a good time?


P.S. {{snippet 4: another piece to build rapport}}

Since we have 11 different variables, this is going to be a highly personalized email. Make sure each variable has it’s own column in your spreadsheet, and fill them in appropriately for each lead. Then make sure your template is set up correctly, import your spreadsheet, and you’re almost ready to send.

Here’s another example:

Hey {{first name}},

I saw on LinkedIn that we’re connected through {{common connection}}.

{{Snippet 1: one sentence about why that connection is relevant}}.

Given your position, I think you may be interested in what my company does. {{Snippet 2: one sentence value proposition}}.

We’ve helped {{their competitor}} achieve {{specific results}}, and we’d love to help your sales reps, like {{colleague’s name}} get the same results.

Do you have time to connect on {{date}}?


Does it pass the test? Look at the email as a whole with all the variables filled in. Can you simply swap out the basic variables, such as {{first name}} and {{company}} with any other name and company, and still send the email?

Get more cold email templates using the PersistIQ Cold Email Generator.

Step 4) Launch Your Campaign and analyze the results

Drop your list of leads and your templates into your favorite outbound sales platform, like PersistIQ, and hit “send!”

Wait about a week for people to respond, then evaluate your results. If you want to become a true expert at outbound sales, you’re going to have to constantly and scientifically test your outbound campaigns with different elements, analyzing the results and adjusting.

Step 5) Follow up!

Following up is extremely important, especially if you’re taking an account based selling approach. If you don’t have at least 7 touches in your outbound sales campaign, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

When I say “follow up,” let’s be clear. I don’t mean send 6 more touches with, “just checking in” or “just following up.” You must take into account the 4 critical factors for follow up success: number of touchpoints, channel diversity, time between touchpoints and content of touchpoints.



That was a lot to take in, so I’m going to give you time to process it. Last week I said I’d give away some of my favorite hacks and tools this week, however, it wouldn’t all fit into one post. But I promise in the next post, I’ll reveal everything.

Here’s what’s in store for next week:

  • My best tricks for making emails feel highly personal without having to do any extra research
  • Experts like Craig Elias and John Barrow share for their favorite tactics on personalizing email at scale
  • Templates you can plug-and-play from said experts
  • Some of the newest and hottest tools out there to help outbound sales reps become more effect at sending personalized emails

UPDATE: Post 3 is live: Weapons of Mass Personalization: Tools and Tactics for Hacking Outbound Sales


Stay tuned for more of the latest in outbound sales best practices and methods.

This post was brought to you by PersistIQ.  Our software empowers salespeople to easily convert prospects into a qualified pipeline and create personalized outbound campaigns at scale.  See how PersistIQ can help you make your own sales efforts more effective today.

Try PersistIQ Today!

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