How to Get a Meeting With Anybody in 2017
In business, the outcome of a meeting could change your life. A new investor, a new partner, a new client or even a new job is out there for you to find. With close to 500 million members and growing, finding the right prospect to reach at the right time with the right message has never been easier (yes – EASIER) for the modern sales-person who embraces technology, conducts data driven experiments, and has dedicated time in their calendar to complete pipeline activities.
Sales is evolving from a spray and pray numbers game where buying a list off the shelf and sending a blast via MailChimp hoping for a reply just doesn’t work anymore. Even with the best sales software to automate prospect list building and cold email campaigns, you still don’t have control over whether your prospect opens the email, reads your pitch, clicks your link or replies back to start a conversation.
To be successful in this new age of sales, you need repeatable process to focus on what you can control like:
- finding the most valuable prospects
- with the highest likelihood of engaging
- based on your personalized messaging
- sent through different channels over time
- with as little manual intervention as possible
Keep reading and we’ll share the process for writing cold emails like the top 1% of producers. Copy or borrow and make it your own.
Start with Prospect Research
Take out a notepad or open a google doc and think critically about the person your are going to cold email and write down the answers to the following questions:
- What is their name? Jim Smith
- Where do they work? Big Software Company, Inc.
- What do they do at work? SVP
- How do they spend their days? In meetings all day, thinking strategy and working on big deals that could move the stock price.
- What do they do in their free time? Ski in Steamboat, Golf or Spend Time w/ Kids
- Do you share any personal or professional connections in common? 9 Connections (4 clients, 3 former co-workers, 1 friend, 1 competitor)
- Are there any uncommon similarities you share? Ie – You went to the same university, interested in underwater basket weaving, or have children around the same age
- What value do you have to offer them? Co-sponsored webinar or blog post.
- Why should they care? They love the space you are working in and your opportunity could make them money and further solidify their authority.
- What is the ideal outcome of the meeting? A first phone call or a referral to a colleague.
Pro Tip: Check your prospect’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, and public Facebook profiles for shared backgrounds, hobbies, likes, dislikes. Follow, Like, Favorite, Comment before you send your email to warm them up.
Making First Contact (Why Email Wins)
If your target contact is like most important and influential people, they are very busy. You need to contact them through the channel that creates the least amount of friction: email. It’s hard to make your tweet stand out in 140 characters, a friend request on Facebook may be creepy, and phone call, assuming you can get their number, could be intrusive.
Email is the preferred communication medium for busy people and understanding how to email busy people is a skill that can set you apart from the pack. Before you start writing, understand that email creates a task for someone to complete and busy people are skimming the emails in the hopes of completing the task.
Here are the 6 questions your recipient will ask when your email lands in their inbox:
- Who is this person?
- Should I open this? (don’t send spam)
- Should I read this?
- What do they want?
- How long will this take?
- Should I reply to this?
In speaking with sales leaders across the globe, one skill that is in high demand for sales but rarely gets mentioned by name or makes a job description is effective copy writing. Copy writing is the gateway to new business for the modern sales-person but it isn’t as sexy as catching last minute flight for a martini lunch to close the deal.
The modern sales-person knows how to write compelling cold emails and follow-ups. Even if you’re not actively paying attention to it, some people are better and more effective at communicating via email (or twitter, Linkedin, blog etc) than others, right? Heck, there are even folks out there who specialize in sales copy writing.
Look at your own inbox. How many cold meeting requests or opportunities did you delete before even hearing out the requestors pitch? Most of these emails are all about the sender and don’t do anything to communicate that they’ve done their research to personalize their offer.
Don’t be this person. Let’s take a closer look at elements of an effective sales email and how you can deconstruct yours.
Pro Tip: Your spam folder is the graveyard for poorly written cold emails (and opportunities to help an exiled Prince). File any cold emails you receive into a 'good email' and 'bad email' folder. Learn from the worst and borrow from the best.
Deconstructing Your Email
The Subject Line
The goal of the subject line is to get your email opened and it’s the gateway to everything else in your email. Think about all the cold emails you received where the subject lines enticed you enough to open the email. Better yet, for the next seven days, pay attention to the subject lines of all the unsolicited emails sent to you. Make note of which subject lines were good or bad and file them into your good/bad folders in your inbox. When you are ready to start writing, here’s a 2 minute subject line drill for your cold email.
Here’s a few examples of the right and wrong approach…
Right: ‘Found you via (mutual connection’s name)’, ‘Great Post on (publication name)’, ‘An idea to improve (something they care about)’
Wrong: ‘can you help?’, ‘recent grad seeking engineering job’, ‘hello’,
The Opening – ‘like a boss’
Avoid sounding like a robot or exuding desperation. The best emailers know how to speak to the recipient in a tone that will get their emails read. Avoid words in the greeting like ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Greetings’, ‘Mr./Mrs. Smith’. This is a rookie mistakes that will call attention to the fact that you are not a peer to the recipient which signals to them that you have nothing to offer in return and your leverage is lost. Delete.
Right: ‘Jim/Jill-’, ‘Hi Jim/Jill-’
Wrong: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, ‘Greetings’, ‘Mr./Mrs. Smith’
The Connection Statement
The first sentence of your email is meant to separate yourself from the pack and demonstrate you have a valid reason for contacting them based on something you both hold in high regards. Don’t make the first sentence all about you. The reader doesn’t know enough yet whether they will care about what you have to say or not and this fatal mistake is a fast track to the delete button.
This is also referred to as an ‘uncommon commonality’. At the beginning of this post, you made a list things you have in common with the recipient. Use your best commonality here to make a personal connection with the recipient. Effective use of the connection statement also signals to the recipient that this isn’t the same generic opening you sent to a lot of other people.
Right: ‘Your article in the Times about time travel made the best argument I’ve seen on why solar flares should be used as an alternative form of energy.’
Wrong: ‘My name is Ryan and I am a recent grad from Harvard majoring in Applied Physics and looking for an entry level engineering role.’ Or…’My name is Ryan and I run sales for XYZ company, a leader in real time space delivery to innovating how we send things to people living on the Moon.’
Pro Tip: Each sentence in your email should be purposely designed and written to get the recipient to read the next sentence.
The key to crafting the correct hook is to 1) pique curiosity, 2) sincerely praise, or 3) call out a fear. Your subject line got the email opened. Your connection statement demonstrated that you did your research and may have something special to offer. The hook will keep them reading on the path to replying to your email or following through on your Call To Action (CTA). Check out the examples below.
- Piquing Curiosity: ‘You mentioned on an expansion to Space a on the last earnings call. Having lived in another dimension 6 years, there is one thing most companies miss when going to market. ‘
- Sincere Praise: ‘Your researched served as the basis for my thesis on track to complete my PhD in applied physics.’
- Fear: ‘I’ve helped companies like (your competitor 1) and (your competitor 2) get to space for less than half of what it’s costing you now.
The hook is a transition that bridges your connection statement to the pitch. Your email should be 3-5 sentences long and your concise communication demonstrates that you will not waste their time. Eliciting emotion is a powerful communication tactic. Authors use the emotional hook technique to make their books more interesting to readers. The same principals can be applied when you are authoring your cold emails.
If you followed the all the steps we laid out, your target is still reading at this point. Make your case then move to the ‘Call To Action’ (CTA). How will you improve recipient’s life by taking action on your request for something? What do you have to offer?
Be concise. Give them a taste of what you bring to the table. Highly motivating email pitches play to psychological factors that can get your prospects thinking about how replying back can generate money, power, or respect.
Right: ‘my company just closed a 7 figure deal with Solar Dimensions Inc. to build the next version of their combustion engine and our investors suggested we build an advisory board of the best space experts on the planet.’
Wrong: ‘I’d love to pick your brain on space exploration’
The Call To Action
The money shot. Close strong, but don’t make your ask too complicated. Your CTA should be an easy commitment for the recipient. Even if you want the recipient to ultimately invest in your company or hire you, it’s too early for such a big ask since the decision process they would go through doesn’t allow for a quick reply.
Craft your CTA to enable an easy ‘yes’ and facilitate the conversation to move from email to a call or an in person meeting.
Right: ‘How does your calendar look in the next 2 weeks for a quick call to see if there is a fit?’
Wrong: ‘Can I present my research to your executive team?’
PS – don’t forget the p.s.
The PS is a great spot in the email to create levity, make another personal connection with the recipient, or add something that didn’t fit with the awesome email you just wrote. You could link the recipient to the White Paper, blog post or press release that details something you mentioned earlier in the email. You can also make the ‘PS’ more personal than what your email allowed for by leveraging another uncommon commonality.
Right: ‘ps – go Cavs!’, ‘ps – here’s a link to the thesis I mentioned earlier’, ‘ps – Taking the family to Steamboat for the first time next week, any suggestions?’
Wrong: ‘ps – looking forward to your reply’
Keep it simple:
Title (if relevant)
Company (hyperlinked to your website or profile)
Pro Tip: Hungry for more? Get The Ultimate Guide to Cold Emailing ‘Beat The Inbox’ Free eBook here.
Your Email Should Look Something Like This:
Subject: Great Post on Time Travel (NY Times)
Your article in the Times last week about time travel made the best argument I’ve seen on why solar flares should be used as an alternative form of energy.
Your researched served as the basis for my thesis on track to complete my PhD in applied physics.
My company just closed a 7 figure deal with Solar Dimensions Inc. to build the next version of their combustion engine and your firm was suggested as a possible partner in the first launch .
How does your calendar look in the next 2 weeks for a quick call to see if there is a fit?
ps – here’s a link to the thesis dissertation.
CEO and Co-Founder