writing cold email at computer

Cold Email Best Practices for SDR Teams

Early on in my sales career I learned that I couldn’t build rapport simply through email, and I certainly couldn’t get a full understanding of my prospect’s needs. To this day, I rarely ever actually sell through email.

However, I quickly learned that emailing can be one of the most valuable tools in sales if used correctly – so much so that I consider it an art form. Unfortunately, it’s an art form that many SDRs lack.

We’ve all had those days where we’re cranking out 100+ calls and couldn’t get anyone on the phone if our life depended on it. What’s an easy way to solve that? Email. Now I’m not saying to stop pitching on the phones and to start emailing more. The last thing I want is for our call numbers to take a hit. What I am saying is that cold emailing can be game-changer when it comes time to scheduling phone calls, and I see far too many SDRs without this skillset (I actually screen for written communication skills on interviews).

Below are some basic cold email best practices I like my SDRs to follow:

1. Follow-up is key

I can not stress this one enough. Some alarming numbers:

  • Only 2% of sales are made on the first touch
  • 3% of sales are made on the 2nd touch
  • 5% of sales are made on the third touch
  • 80% of sales on the 5th to 12th touch.

I get dozens of sales emails on a weekly basis, and it amazes me how many sales reps neglect to follow up even a second time. We are a sports analytics company so I can be a bit biased with my thinking, but numbers don’t lie!

To ensure consistent follow-up, we do our outreach in two-week ‘sprints’, which will have our SDRs target a specific demographic of our market and force the rep to have multiple calls & emails during this timespan. I see cold emailing like casting a giant fishing net out in the deep seas. Too many sales reps don’t fully reel it in, they give one or two tugs and release the net, letting all of the fish that were once in this net back into the open sea.

The few follow-up emails that I do receive are not true follow-ups, they’re either an exact replication of the first email or a standard template that has zero knowledge of my business or industry. If it didn’t work the first time around, why would it work the second time? Each email should be attacking from a slightly different angle and build off the previous emails to form one beautifully composed drip.

2. Perfect your subject lines

A Salesforce study showed that 1/3 of prospects decide to open up an email based off the subject line alone. Take a second to think about your inbox and how you decide which emails to open. I personally get over 100 emails a day (which I’m sure isn’t even a lot compared to some people out there) and generally I’ll catch up on everything from the day on my commute home…and if it’s not a catchy subject line, I’ll just naturally scroll past it like the 80 other bogus emails.

One of my favorite subject line tricks: Keep all letters lower case — my response rates have skyrocketed. Additionally, if my subject line didn’t elicit a response by the third time around, I’ll change it for my fourth email, or better yet, completely remove it and keep the ‘re:’.

3. Be a human

If you’re like Krossover, then you probably have a pretty strong Marketing Team to drive inbound. Our prospects are constantly hitting hard with marketing emails on a daily and weekly basis. If I wanted our SDRs to produce a generic email, we’d have our Marketing Team send another blast out. We don’t pay our SDRs to be an extension of Marketing. We pay them to be human and learn about each of our prospect’s needs. With cold emails, it’s all about personalization.

One study found that over ¾ of cold emails had zero knowledge of the prospect’s business. Within each drip, every email should contain some information either about the individual or about their company. Most of us have those fancy email templates for our SDRs, but I warn you to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of sending the same template every time or else you’ll turn into that Marketing robot. A template should only be used to bring your email 80% of the way there. The rest is on the SDR to put in a nice personal touch to it.

4. Think before you send

Our brain is a powerful tool. Often, it will trick us into reading what we want it to believe. Below is a short checklist that I like my SDRs to think about before they click send:

Read it out loud to yourself.  

Again, the brain is a powerful thing. The brain is wired to read what you want it to believe, and it will often interpret your own words on paper the way it’s supposed to read in your head and not the actual words on paper. You’ll be amazed at the amount of words that you either find missing from your sentences or phrases that simply don’t make sense.

How does the email look on a mobile phone?  

Over 50% of prospects open up their email on a mobile device, and that number is bound to increase over time. Rule of thumb, if they have to scroll down on the screen, they probably won’t read the full email.

Would you open this email?

And finally, ask yourself ‘Is the subject line catchy enough for me to want to open it?’ and ‘Does the body of the email spark my interest enough to want me to respond to it?’. If you wouldn’t open it or respond to it, your prospect probably won’t either.

Sure, all of this information is great for your SDR to have. It’s something I introduce to ours during Week Two of training. But I make one thing clear: We are hired to sell. We do that through hitting the phones, building rapport, and asking the right questions. Email is strictly a tool we use to help accomplish all of this. When executed correctly, these cold email best practices can help your middle of the board SDRs go straight to the top.

Evan Kirshner

Evan is the Sales Manager of UberEATS. He has former sales positions at Krossover and Inside Sales Associate.