5 Ways To Write Targeted Outbound Sales Emails That Get Opens and Replies


One challenge that sales reps face is coming up with new ideas for cold email templates and reasons to reach out. The once highly effective cold calling 2.0 method from Aaron Ross is no longer effective. In fact, it’s so overused that it’ll hurt you simply because everyone is doing it. 

There are better ways to get someone’s attention while still being able to personalize your outbound at scale

I was recently at the SaaStr Annual 2016 conference talking with a friend, Joe Payne, who is the Outbound Lead Generation Manager at LeadGenius. He was telling me about the five types of campaigns they run and the success they’ve been having. 

I loved what he had to say so much that I asked him to write about it on the PersistIQ blog. 

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Joe, who will be breaking down his five ways to write outbound sales emails that get opens and replies.


Every day I get bombarded with over 20 cold outbound emails. Most of them are generic, a few are clever, some are downright painful. There must be a phonebook’s worth of SaaS sales reps who can only assume that I’ve been kidnapped by pirates, trampled by elephants, or lost in the Golden Gate Park after dark because I respond to very few of these emails. Every day, a little part of me dies inside.

But a precious handful of these emails make it through. The ones I respond to are not just highly customized AND personalized. These emails are like snowflakes. These emails indicate that there is in fact life on the other end of my glowing box. Empathy, understanding, value –  the person on the other end relates to my pain and grasps what I need.

My job as a Lead Generation Manager at LeadGenius is to strategize, target, write, and send email campaigns to cold prospects. Being on the receiving end of sales outreach is both a blessing and a curse. I can see what works and what doesn’t every single day.

Here’s what doesn’t work:


I wanted to reach out because I believe your website and business are prime for Marketing Automation.

Your goal is to not just drive leads but make sure those leads turn into sales. Are you able to measure that currently?

I want to schedule 10 minutes on your calendar to examine if our solution would work for you.

Can we set this up?


Here are a few things Zach should have known before he emailed me:

  1. I’m already using “Marketing Automation”
  2. LeadGenius is a Hubspot client
  3. We’ve got a pretty heavy marketing stack
  4. “Are you able to measure that currently?” just proves that he’s actually made of straw. His title should be Associate Straw Man, not Sales Development Representative.

This email demonstrates a failure of mass personalization as well as segmentation. In this email the only personal touch consists of my first name. I have no ideas why LeadGenius was targeted. Because we have a website? Because we’re on Crunchbase? Zach has given me no reason to respond to this email.

Creating a real connection with all your ideal customers is difficult, but not impossible. Effective outbound emails require accurate data, great targeting, a little creativity, and, yes, a touch of humanity.

Here a few of my favorite (and most effective) outbound email campaign ideas :

Hiring Based Campaign

BANT. Let’s focus on the N and the T. How do you determine Need and Timing before ever even talking to a prospect?

A reliable buying signal that indicates need and timing is whether or not the company is hiring. If you’re selling software designed for sales teams (like PersistIQ) you’ll want to check and see if that team is growing. SDRs, AE’s, SDR Managers, VPs of Sales, BDRs….if a company is aggressively growing they’re, much more likely to be looking for sales software while they scale.

There are a few different ways to identify companies that are hiring:

  • Use job boards and sites like, Indeed, and Jobvite to look at companies with open roles.
  • Build a LinkedIn job search around the keywords / titles you’re looking for. From there you can segment by territory and company size.

build a linkedin job search around keywords

This will make your messaging relevant, prove that you’ve done your homework, and make a more compelling case to your prospects.

Find A Common Connection

Finding a common LinkedIn connection / reverse LinkedIn prospecting is one method, but company connections can be just as compelling. Connections are everywhere.

For every outbound email campaign, you need to identify a common thread that connects your prospects together. Without this thread, you cannot write messaging that will connect. Just because a company is the right size for you to sell to is not a good reason to shoot over an email.

This thread can usually be found through an industry portal, organization, or partnership that your prospects are a part of.

Here are some examples:

  1. Google’s Partner Portal

Google’s Partner Portal

  1. Cisco Partners Portal

Cisco Partners Portal

  1. Industry-Specific associations such as the Solar Energy Industries Association

Industry-Specific associations such as the Solar Energy Industries Association

Find The Newest Players Faster

“Look at news updates, mention blog posts, relate to your prospect.” This time-honored “strategy” gets drilled into SDRs over and over again.

While this is OK for nurturing, it doesn’t necessarily tee up opportunities for sales conversations.

Here are few information sources that are more likely to reveal data points that will actually function as the cornerstone of an effective outbound email campaign:

  • Product Hunt, KickStarter, Tilt, Angelist etc. Sites like these are where hundreds if not thousands of companies get their start. Depending on your ICP you’ll be able to find your prospects and nurture while they’re still MVPing.
  • Divide up key newsletters among your SDRs. Instead of having them troll for Google alerts or monitor LinkedIn make sure they have a pulse on their target market. A weekly newsletter can be treated like a fresh crop of new leads every week.

Divide up key newsletters among your SDRs

Event Based Campaigns

There are more sales, marketing, and industry events than ever before. From the customer-centric (think Marketo and Dreamforce) to the industry-focused (SaaStr, SiriusDecisions, Flip My Funnel) and best-practice oriented (TOPO’s Sales Summit, Sales Stack) your clients and prospects are either speaking, sponsors, or attending.

Unless you have a highly ambitious events team, you won’t be able to go to them all. But lack of attendance should never stop you from using an event or conference as a touch point for a potential prospect. Here are a few ways around that:

  • Use public sponsor lists and go after contacts that are most likely going to be at the event. Send a warm up message before or during the event and then send a message after the event to try and get on the phone. You can garner information from Twitter as well as event summaries to find details that will make your emails seem more relevant and personal.
  • Target the speakers. This will be easier than hunting down just sponsors. You’ll have time to do background research as well as engage with them on a much more personal level
  • Event apps are now the norm for almost every conference. Thanks to the rise services like DoubleDutch and EventMobi; these attendee focused apps represent a huge opportunity for a dedicated and persistent SDR team. Not only will they be able to collate a list of all attendees that have downloaded the app but you’ll also be able to message them directly – all for the price of just one ticket.

Event apps

event app double dutch

Technology-Based Targeting

Technology based campaigns are quite common these days because they’re easy, the lowest hanging fruit for any targeting exercise. And thanks to the rise of inexpensive profilers like Datanyze, BuiltWith, and SimillarWeb anybody with a list of websites can find common linkages around prospects’ marketing and sales stacks. Combined with the ability to run your own clients websites through one of these platforms, every company has the ability to target their prospects with highly relevant messaging.

But backend software has still remained hard to identify. If you’re currently using one of the above mentioned tools you know that a search for Salesforce will only net you around 6k results (that’s up from 3k a few months ago but still). These are so low due because very few Salesforce customers actually use their front end form handler or support software.

Here’s a few ways companies are getting around that:

  • Any company that has over 20 employees and uses Salesforce has an ops or an admin on staff to handle the day to day drudgery. Try searching for folks with those titles on LinkedIn to find more companies
  • Same thing goes for keyword search. Often people will list Salesforce as a skill on their profile or as part of their current job function.
  • Look at job hirings. Which companies are trying to hire Salesforce admins or really anybody with Salesforce skills.

In this day and age there is no excuse for generic messaging. With a modern sales stack, list building tools, and segmentation methods there should be no room left in this world for an uninformed SDR or an outbound manager pushing quantity over quality.

These past few years have given rise to the power outbound roles have for organizations of all sizes; often an outbound email is the first impression a prospect gets from a company.

Don’t let Zach’s half-hearted, unresearched, poorly-targeted email be your brand’s first impression.

Check out the Cold Email Generator by PersistIQ for a curated list of over 40+ proven templates.

This is a guest post from Joe Payne, Outbound Lead Generation Manager, LeadGenius. Please connect with Joe on LinkedIn or learn more about scaling your outbound sales process at

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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