Sales Prospecting: How to Write Better Cold Call Emails

Nurturing and developing leads and opportunities takes time, perseverance and more than a little skill. Dave Thomson talks about how to improve open and response rates for your sales emails.

In this video you’ll learn how to:

  1. Write effective subject lines

    • Localization
    • Personalization
  2. Create opening lines that capture prospects’ interest

    • Don’t waste space with unnecessary “fluff”
    • Choose your words carefully
  3. Deliver value in the body of your email

    • Get to the point quickly
    • Speak to the prospect’s pain points

If you need to generate a list of prospects fast, Winmo’s filters can help you find the right person, in the right organization who has budget to spend. Grab a free trial here!

Video Transcription

Hi, it’s Dave Thomson, Executive Vice President of Sales here at The List Partners, home of Winmo, and this is our very first video in what will be a series of videos to help sales reps prospect more effectively
and more efficiently.

And today I want to talk about cold call emails. So as a sales rep back in the day, I sent out tens of thousands of emails, and currently in my role today I’m getting about a hundred to a hundred and fifty cold emails every single day.

I can tell you right now that the vast majority of those—upwards of 99 percent of those—are complete trash.
So I want to give you some insights in terms of subject lines, the opening sentence of those emails and also the body of those sentences to get your emails: #1 opened more frequently; but #2 and most importantly to
get a higher response rate on those emails.

So let’s start with the subject line of the email.

Generally, the shorter the better—there have even been studies that having absolutely no subject line at all, a blank subject line, can net you 10 percent or higher in terms of your open rate.

The sweet spot for me is really in the 1 to 3 word subject line, so if you have anything 6, 7 plus words, you want to figure out a way to condense that because no one’s going to take time to read all that within the subject line.

You want to be very brief so it catches their attention when scanning through hundreds and hundreds of emails.

Also, you want to try to make it A) personalized, B) unique, or a combination of the two — make it personalized and unique. So the personalization of the subject line could really be a video in and of itself— I could have another 5-10 minute segment just on that.

Couple of easy ways to personalize, one is localization, so for example if you’re sending me an email here in Atlanta, you might use “Atlanta leads” or “Atlanta…anything else.”

It’s much more likely that I’m going to open that because I know it’s personalized to me. Also sending me an email with my company name in it, or a competitor’s company name — again, much more likely I’m going to open that because that feels personalized to me.

The other way of doing it is being different or unique.

Heather Morgan over at Sales Folk who works specifically with companies for cold call emails. She’s got some really unique, inspirational, if you will, subject lines that she sends out in her newsletter.

So I’d recommend going to, being a part of her newsletter and being inspired by some of those subject lines that she’s sending over.

Another way you can be unique is I’ve got an example from our director of sponsorship sales, Brian McCue. He was trying to target NHL executives and having a hard time getting either opens or responses from them. So he decided to think a little outside the box and started throwing up subject lines like “Skating on thin ice” and “Don’t puck up” and his open rate and response rate went through the roof and he started making connections.

So the next thing I want to talk about regarding emails is that opening sentence which is critical and probably a lot of times the most overlooked part of the email.

Do me a favor and, in just a minute, pause this video, take out your cellphone, go to your emails and start scrolling through all your emails.

What you’re going to see there is, up top, obviously you’ve got whoever that email’s from; down below that you have the subject line, and then the first 10 or so characters are going to be viewable as well. That’s your opening sentence. So with studies done that over 50 percent of all emails are now opened initially on a mobile device, it’s critically important that you get that opening sentence right and you don’t waste it with such things as “Hope you’re doing well” or “Hope this email finds you well,” which is complete garbage,
it screams cold call, and I delete every single one of those.

What you want to do is, going back to personalization, figure out a way to personalize that to me specifically. Utilize something from my LinkedIn profile, maybe where I went to school, stuff that’s going on with our company.

Something that’s going to note that you spend a little bit of time personalizing that email to me, means there’s a likelihood I’m going to spend some time to actually send you a response.

If I feel like there was no personalization on that email, it’s going to be a lot easier for to just click delete and not think twice about it.

Finally, the body of the email, the rest of the email, is the last topic I want to cover here.

Let me tell you a bit more about me. We’re having a great year here at The List — so much so that my boss decides to up our revenue mark in Q4 by about 30 percent. Also I’ve got a dog who’s about 14 year old — can’t make it up the stairs — I’ve got to carry that dog up and down the stairs every morning and every night. I’ve got two sales guys in the background bickering about leads right now, and my keyboard…the spacebar’s getting stuck every time I click on it. Takes me about 15 minutes just to send out an email this entire morning.

With all that going on I can tell you I don’t care about how great your company is, how long your company’s been in business, how many awards your company has won. I want to know how you can help me with those

Now, I can almost guarantee you can’t help me with my dog problem, you can help me with those two sales guys bickering in the back there and you probably can’t help me with my keyboard right now.

But what you might be able to help me with is that Q4 revenue a little bit, that just got increased.

So tell me how to do it, tell me how to do it within 2-3 sentences—bullet points if necessary.

Also, one thing, every time you click on enter and start another paragraph, the likelihood that anyone is going to read that or respond to that goes down significantly. If you can keep that email to 2, 3, 4 sentences max, tell me your value prop, and have a call to action that’s the ideal situation.

If you do need to tell me multiple things, put it in bullet point format, make it really easy to read and, most importantly, make it really easy for me to respond to.

If you have multiple paragraphs on there I can promise you right now no one’s going to read it and no one’s going to respond to that.

Last thing I want to touch on is A/B testing which I think is critically important.

Let’s say you have you’re A, B, C, D and F prospects. What I’d recommend is doing an A/B test with your D and F prospects.

Send out an A and a B email, see what your open rate is, see what your response rate is, and then utilize those solid emails that get the higher open rates and those high response rates, utilize those on the A and B prospects. Don’t be A/B testing with your A and B prospects.

If you have any questions, thoughts, agree, disagree, please feel free to comment below, send me an email at

You can always link up with me on LinkedIn and subscribe to our channel as well.

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