How to write cold emails that work (with templates and frameworks)

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Kyle Vamvouris
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Min Read
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May 31, 2022

Cold Email Templates and Tips to Improve Your Sales Strategy

Cold calling is highly effective. It will always have its place in sales strategies, but understanding how to leverage cold sales emails can benefit busy and growing teams. 

A 2020 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 80% of Americans tend not to answer the phone when they see an unknown number pop up. Instead, people are employing a call screening system that relies on voicemail. While we can expect the phone is answered more in a business environment, it may still take hours of calls to land a sale. There’s no way around it — phone calls take time.

Why Send Cold Emails?

While cold emails aren’t quite as effective as cold calling, they’re efficient. Emails can be batched, templated, and scheduled in advance — making it particularly useful for small sales teams or anyone trying to reach leads in a different time zone.

You don’t have to choose between all phone calls or all emails. In fact, incorporating a mix of cold calls and emails is ideal for sales success. Well-written cold sales emails can be used as a standalone method of contact or as a lead-in to scheduling a phone call. 

Elements of a Great Cold Sales Email

Three key factors can help your sales emails lead to actual conversations and conversions.

1. Personalization

While you don’t need to type a completely new message for each contact, a personalized approach goes a long way. Rather than feeling like they’re one of hundreds on a list, your contact should feel like they’ve received a personal introduction from you, the person who understands their pain points. 

Always use your contact’s name — never open with a generic salutation.

2. Tone

Cold sales emails — especially the very first one — should maintain a personal tone. The first cold sales email is like the exchange you have when a contact picks up the phone. You’d never immediately hit the lead with a hard sell as soon as they’ve finished saying “hello,” and it’s the same for email. Great sales emails start a conversation that will be continued over a few follow up exchanges or be moved to a phone call. 

3. Length

You know what it’s like to skim an inbox full of emails — a few seconds’ glance at each one before moving on. The best cold sales emails are short and concise, ideally under 50 words. Chances are, you need less space than you think to get your message across.

Adding bullet points into your email makes it easier to skim and gets the key points across with just a glance. Limit each bullet to no more than five words. 

Writing Cold Email Templates for B2B

Your email prospecting sequence, or cadence, is a series of contact points that you’ll use to build a relationship with your prospective customer. 

While we’re focusing on cold sales emails in this guide, your prospecting cadence can include other forms of contact like phone calls or LinkedIn messages.

(Want to learn more about how sales prospecting sequences work? We put together the ultimate guide!)

Before sending your first sales email, take some time to plan out your overall sequence and write up a few cold email templates you can rely on throughout the process. 

Outlining a sequence in advance helps you to prioritize and plan your contact points, keeping communication efficient.

By preparing templates at the same time, you can:

  • Leverage personalization and automation tools to reduce repetitive manual work 
  • Incorporate elements of your cold call scripts to establish consistency across all touchpoints

Each cold sales email sequence should include several types of templated messages that create a journey for the prospect: 

  1. An introduction to you and your company. This email may include a low-effort, simple first ask like scheduling a 15-minute phone call to share more details. 
  2. Follow up emails to gently trigger a reminder for recipients who may be interested but were too busy to respond or forgot. 
  3. Value proposition messages that clarify how the prospect can benefit from working with your company. These emails may include sharing resources and examples of other companies that have benefited from working with you (statistics are great!) 

Introductory Cold Email Templates

A well-crafted introduction is essential to successfully warming a lead or closing a sale via email. Because you’re emailing someone out of the blue, it’s a good idea to establish a connection between you and them. How is your email relevant, and why are you contacting them? Points of relevancy might include:

  • They signed up for more information somewhere online (and may have forgotten about it)
  • You have mutual connections on LinkedIn
  • They posted relevant content on LinkedIn
  • They attended an event sponsored by your company
  • They fit a buyer persona that your offer is very applicable to

By mentioning this in your introductory email, you provide a reference point in the prospect’s mind and help to reinforce that this email is personalized just for them. Establishing this point of relevance may push your email over the 50-word mark, but that’s okay — the benefits of clarifying this connection go a long way. 

The Best Short Cold Email Template for B2B

This brief email template is one of our highest-performing messages ever:

(PROSPECT NAME) - I’m reaching out because I help (TYPE OF COMPANY) with (OBJECTIVE). 
I help with:
  •  Offering 1
  •  Offering 2
  •  Offering 3
  •  The list goes on…
Want to hear how I’ve helped teams in your space?
Talk soon,

Cold Email Template for Social Media Connections

This template references LinkedIn due to its focus on business use, but feel free to swap that platform out for another like Twitter or Clubhouse — wherever you engage with and identify prospects. 

Hi (NAME) — I noticed that you (LIKED/COMMENTED) on (POSTER’S NAME) post on LinkedIn about (TOPIC), and I thought I’d reach out. 
I totally agree with (POSTER’S NAME OR CONTACT’S COMMENT).
With that said, I’d love to get you on a 10-minute call to learn more about you, (PROSPECT’S COMPANY), and your focus areas. I would love to earn the right to talk through how (YOUR COMPANY) might fit in. 
Do you have time for a quick call this week or next?

Follow Up Cold Email Templates for Sales

If your introductory email doesn’t generate a response, it doesn’t mean you’ve hit a dead end. Just like with cold sales calls, sometimes your prospect is interested, but they:

  • Get pulled in another direction and forget to respond
  • Share the email with a team member for follow up that never happens
  • Reply, but ask you to loop back with them at a future date

Follow up, or touch base emails, are a great chance to jog their memory and qualify some of the statements you’ve made so far.

Replying to your last email with a simple “thoughts?” is one of the most effective ways to get a response from a quiet contact. If you’d like to switch up your touch base email templates, you can also:

  • Share statistics that back up claims made in an earlier email
  • Provide a resource that you think they’ll be interested in based on previous communications or their social media activity
  • Tell a quick story about a similar company that has seen success in working with you
  • Repeat the ask for a meeting

Follow Up Email Template for Non-Responsive Contacts

If your lead hasn’t responded to previous messages, using a public event such as a product launch can be a great “reason” to reach back out. 

(Prospect Name) — (Company Event) looks like it went well! I would imagine more buyer personas can use your solution to (Purpose). Is that correct?
One of our customers, (Client Company), recently leveraged our tool for a product launch. It led to their most successful campaign to date.
By (Purpose of Solution), you can (Result). Does this sound like something you would be interested in exploring further?
Best Regards, 
(Your Name)

Email Template for Following Up After a Conversation

By keeping an eye out for content related to your lead’s industry or goals, you can establish an opening to re-contact them in the future. This approach is useful whether they asked you to loop back on a specific date or kept it open-ended.

(Prospect Name) — When we spoke in (Month), you mentioned an interest in (Topic). I read this article and thought of you: (Link)
We are helping (Client Company) track (Item), and they’ve seen (Statistic). 
You asked me to reach out in (Month) to set up a time to discuss. Are you available (Day) at (Time)?
Best Regards,
(Your Name)

There are a number of ways you can touch base with a lead after making initial contact. These follow up emails are so crucial to the sales cadence, we’ve put together two sets of templates for you to use — grab them here and here.

Craft a Strong Value Proposition

The value proposition is the meat of your sales email cadence. It explains why you reached out to your lead and how you propose you can help. Remember — you may be trying to close a sale to boost your business, but keep it all about the other person when it comes to the value proposition. 

Messages heavily focused on the value proposition are a great chance to include more statistics about how you have helped similar companies.

How to start and end your cold sales email

Perfecting your subject line

An email’s subject line is its first chance to get the recipient’s attention. While the effectiveness of a subject line often comes down to its actual content,  you can help it stand out by using the recipient’s first name and adjusting your sentence case (uppercase, lowercase, or title). Ideally, you want your subject line to catch the reader’s attention in as little as a second. 

An email’s preview text can be useful, too! The preview text is what appears directly under an email’s subject line in the inbox — a quick peek at the content within. Depending on your email program, your message’s preview text will either be the first few words of the email body or a custom sentence you can set when writing the subject. 

Build a Strong Call to Action

Every sales email should have some kind of a call to action at the end — the thing you are asking your contact to view or do. Calls to action may be: 

  • Clicking a link to view a document or webpage
  • Filling out a form to schedule a meeting
  • Replying directly with more information
  • Asking for a meeting
  • Asking if they have interest in learning more

(See this article for more email CTAs!)

What to Do When a Sales Email Sequence Ends?

Eventually, your well-planned email sequence will come to an end — what then? It’s important not to let good leads slip away. 

Depending on how communication has progressed so far, you may choose to slow the frequency or increase the level of personalization each email contains. 

You can also explore adding your lead into a new sequence. If you’ve focused on email, add phone calls into the mix. If you’ve been heavy on phone and email, try a text message (even if you don’t have their cell phone number).

How Cold Sales Emails Compare to Marketing Emails

Cold sales emails are more personal than marketing blasts. While you may be sending very similar versions of the same message out to multiple contacts, it should feel conversational. 

Marketing emails typically focus on the company sending the message. Sure, it might be offering a discount or free download, but a lot of marketing email content is about broadly promoting a brand and its objectives:

  • We want you to buy this 
  • We’re celebrating our third decade in business
  • We need to offload stock, so here’s a discount

Cold sales emails, on the other hand, should be very focused on the recipient. 

  • Your ROI is important, and I know how to improve it
  • You aren’t alone — we’ve seen this situation before and have a solution for you
  • You can succeed, and I’d like to earn the right to show you how

However, while the tone may be different, there are still some great tactics you can steal from your marketing department:


Marketers use segmentation to sort subscribers by demographic and consumer behaviors. When sending cold sales emails, it can help to create a segmentation structure based on industry, company size, or stage in the pipeline. 

Variable Fields

Variable fields make email personalization exceptionally simple. While variables won’t allow for in-depth personalization, such as referencing a particular LinkedIn article comment, it does allow you to quickly swap contact and company names in and out of the same template. 

When setting up a template with variable fields, you’ll input specific words that your contact’s information will replace. For example, {{LEAD_NAME}} might become “Jim Smith.” Every email program has its own way of formatting these fields.

Automatic Sending

In addition to scheduled, unique follow up emails, many email programs will allow you to automatically resend a message if it is not delivered or opened within a specific time frame. If you’re already planning to send a variety of follow up messages as part of your cadence, this may not be necessary — but it is an option. 

How to Balance Personalization and Automation when Cold Emailing

In a perfect world, you’d only send unique, personalized emails to every lead. This approach, however, would take a lot of time that you probably don’t have. Striking the right balance between personalization and automation in your cadence is critical. Your contact feels seen, and you don’t have to spend all day retyping versions of the same email. 

Generally, devoting more time to personalization, such as sharing articles, is worthwhile when communicating with a high-quality contact. Because personalization increases the likelihood the email will generate a response, you’re investing in a lead that can have a high return.

When reaching out to a lower-quality account, it can be useful to rely more heavily on templated emails that swap out company names and dates. This way, you’re not spending too much time painstakingly crafting communications for accounts that are likely to have a low ROI.

Testing Your Sales Email Campaigns

Marketers know that slight differences in an email can influence how likely recipients are to click — from subject lines right down to the color and placement of links. 

A/B tests determine whether one version of an email is more effective than another. 

It is necessary to send a relatively large batch of emails — to at least 1,000 contacts — to conduct a true A/B test that generates statistically significant results. However, smaller-scale A/B tests can still provide useful insights.

At its core, the test is simple: 50% of contacts receive email version A, and 50% receive version B. By comparing metrics between the two groups, you can see what encouraged leads to open messages or take action — and what fell flat. 

When A/B testing, you should test one variable at a time. You can calculate your statistical significance with free online A/B test calculators made specifically for this purpose.

Variables to Test

You can run an A/B test on any part of your email. Common items to test include: 

  • Subject line length and style
  • Placement of personalization variables
  • Length of message
  • Day of the week a message is sent
  • Time of day a message is sent
  • Use of emojis
  • Capitalization
  • Type of call to action — response vs. link click 

Metrics to watch

Professional sales and marketing email platforms provide data about how recipients engage with messages. Compare these metrics as you evaluate how effective a message is: 

  • Open Rate: The total number of recipients who opened the email.
  • Clicks to Open Rate (CTOR): The percentage of people who received your email and clicked a link.
  • Bouncebacks: Undeliverable emails returned to sender.
  • Unsubscribes: If your email contains a link for recipients to remove themselves from your contact list, those requests will be tallied here.

Best Practices for Cold Sales Emailing

A recent influx of privacy regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means that it is essential for sales teams to use and manage email leads responsibly. Simple best practices include: 

  • Know where your audience is located geographically, as this can impact regulations around communications.
  • Only send emails to business accounts (B2B).
  • Be clear about why you are contacting a lead.
  • Have a defined link between your business activity and theirs — don’t waste time and money sending mass emails to purchased lists that may not be relevant. This activity can also lead to your email account being flagged as spam.
  • Let the recipient know how they can opt-out of future communications with your team.
  • Periodically remove non-responsive contacts from your email lists.
  • If a contact requests that you do not contact them further, immediately remove their information from your lists.

Will Cold Sales Emailing Work for You? 

Ultimately, even the best sales email templates and sequences will fall flat if they aren’t backed up by a great sales team. Your cold sales outreach is just one part of the five components that make sales organizations successful: the right people, processes, messaging, technology, and leadership.

If it feels like your cold sales emails aren’t doing the job, you may be experiencing difficulty in any of these areas — not just messaging. 

Luckily, it’s easy to identify and address any issues that might be holding your sales prospecting back. In just 30 minutes, we’ll analyze your sales data and identify the #1 area you need to focus on to see improvement. 

This evaluation is completely free. It’s a complimentary service we’re providing because we want startup sales teams to succeed. 

Schedule your consultation directly on my calendar, and get your sales team back on track in less time than it takes to plan a new email sequence!

Will Cold Sales Emailing Work for You? 

Ultimately, even the best sales email templates and sequences will fall flat if they aren’t backed up by a great sales team. Your cold sales outreach is just one part of the five components that make sales organizations successful: the right people, processes, messaging, technology, and leadership.

If it feels like your cold sales emails aren’t doing the job, you may be experiencing difficulty in any of these areas — not just messaging. 

Luckily, it’s easy to identify and address any issues that might be holding your sales prospecting back. In just 30 minutes, we’ll analyze your sales data and identify the #1 area you need to focus on to see improvement. 

This evaluation is completely free. It’s a complimentary service we’re providing because we want startup sales teams to succeed. 

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