5 Steps To Writing Personalized Cold Emails

Cold emailing… every sales rep does it, and every sales rep is constantly searching for a better and more effective way to execute on their cold email strategy. That’s why I’ve asked cold email expert and Director of Sales Development at LevelEleven Brendan Hartt to share his process for quickly creating emails that get opened, read and replied to.

Take it away, Brendan!

In the world of many inside sales teams, cold emailing is a daily task.

But as we all know, it’s not what it used to be. Generic, mass emails aren’t as effective nowadays. Research shows that buyers have much more favorable responses to personalized emails, improving click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.

Some of the DON’Ts of cold emails are pretty obvious: Don’t make grammar, spelling or factual errors; don’t tell overtly long stories about what your company does; don’t rely on buzzwords.

But let’s talk about what you should do.

I’ve developed a process for personalized cold emails that stems from both my time at Salesforce and training from sales trainer John Barrows. The best part is these have far broader reaching applications and can be utilized on any sort of online, written communication, such as LinkedIn inmails.  

Here are 5 easy steps:


1) Cold Emails start with your buyer persona.

It’s key to understand your buyer persona before you start searching for a person to reach out to or message to send.

A buyer persona should describe the right person, the right role within the company, the right verticals and the right company size — at the very least. And documenting it helps you align with marketing and avoid wasting time selling to the wrong audience.

Once you fully understand the details associated with your ideal buyer, you can start pulling together leads.

2) Generate your list of leads.

A social selling tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator comes in handy for this. The lead builder function lets you filter by industry, company size, region and keywords and then searches the entire LinkedIn database to find profiles that match that criteria.

If the initial list you get is overwhelming, you can continue to add criteria to shorten it. From here, start examining individual lead profiles.

3) Three takeaways in less than 3 minutes.

As soon as you pull up a specific person’s information, try to identify three relatable things in less than three minutes (a rule of 3×3, if you will). By relatable, I mean anything that you have in common or that creates a human connection with that other person.

These can be things like (but not limited to):

  • Current city (are any of your current customers based there?)
  • Work history (did they used to work for a company who now uses your product?)
  • School or university (how is the college football team doing?)
  • Mutual connections (did you both meet the same person at a conference?  

Again, you’re just identifying three key personal facts to start.

4) Generate Personalized Email.

This is both the most important and probably the most fun part of cold emailing.

Sure, you might get a couple of people who bite if you send out 1,000 mass emails with the same message, but if you spend a little bit of extra time and send out 50 really personalized emails. you’re going to get a much higher rate of clicks and conversions.

Here are the key elements of your personalized email:

  • Subject line: Don’t make this too sales-y. Try to keep it casual, yet catchy and fit one of your three relatable facts in there.
  • Greeting and intro: Casual again, and start with the relatable piece of information.  
  • Transition: Transition from the relatable aspect to your main point. Explain the reason for your email.
  • Snapshot: Provide a brief overview of what your company does and how it could help this person.
  • Network: Share a few customers they might have heard of.
  • Call to action: Suggest a specific day and time to have a phone conversation.

Here’s an example of a cold sales email that works for our team at LevelEleven:

Hey {{prospect name}},

How about the Packers squeaking it out against the Detroit Lions earlier this month?

Those men are on a mission. I’m a Lions fan (have been for 30 years) – please send help 🙂

As a data-driven sales leader, I’m confident you would see value in a brief conversation about how we’re helping similar companies to {{company name}}.

As you may know, LevelEleven’s platform for Salesforce drives real-time accountability and visibility around your sales organization’s most meaningful KPIs and keeps your team focused on the behaviors that matter, while driving predictable revenue.

You’re from Boston – we work with hundreds of customers out that way, including {{customer 1}}, {{customer 2}} and {{customer 3}}.

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


5) Follow up and take action.

If you don’t get a response the first time, follow up. Add another personalized comment — maybe even a joke, but only if you can find a smooth way to fit it in. Tools like PersistIQ can help you set up campaigns for this.

When you do get a response, take action right away (even if it’s not the response you were looking for). Send a meeting invite for a lead who’s agreed to talk, craft a new email if you’ve been referred to someone else (but make sure you emphasize that you’ve been sent to that person) or if necessary, mark the lead as unqualified in your CRM system.  

The most useful tricks you can use in this process are creativity and personality. That’s how you will stand out against your competition and other cold emails in general.

About the Author

Brendan Hartt is the Director of Sales Development at LevelEleven.

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.

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