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Avoid These Mistakes When Conducting Cold Outreach


Open your inbox and count the number of pitches you've received from strangers over the past week. We've all received those unsolicited emails from people we don't know, trying to sell us their product or service. Does the following ring a bell? 

Hello [insert name here], I've noticed [insert assumption made from the company website or title] and want to help your company out. I offer [the service they provide].

These pitches can be annoying, clogging up an inbox and making it hard to find the emails that matter. Routinely, they are poorly written and based on inadequate research into the recipient's company. But now and then, a captivating pitch comes through that piques your interest.


When used effectively, cold outreach can be a successful way to reach new clients. Following SEO and referrals, email outreach scored as the most effective lead gen tool in 2023. How can you properly use cold outreach and increase your chances of a response? Consider the following advice from someone who's been both the sender and the receiver. 

1. It's about the prospect, not you. 

If you plan on sending a message to a busy executive, you must appeal to their needs and interests--not yours. To capture their attention, focus on how your skills and expertise can specifically benefit them and address any challenges they currently face.  

It's fine to present authority but relate it to them. Remember, successful cold outreach is all about building relationships and offering solutions to the recipient's needs.  

2. Don't make assumptions. 

If you're not a part of said company, how can you assume what it needs or what issues it faces? Instead of making a blanket statement and hoping it fits with the recipient, research their business thoroughly and craft a meaningful message from the information you've gathered.  

Below is a real excerpt from a cold email I received last week: 

As the Founder & CEO, I can assume your consistently searching for ways to create SME deals ... 

Am I searching for that? I didn't realize that was a priority for me, perhaps because it's not. But the person who sent it wouldn't know that because of their carelessness, not to mention there are grammatical errors.  

3. Sending outreach as a reply won't fool anyone. 

It's become a common tactic to add "RE: ... " in front of the subject line of a cold email to catch the recipient's attention. Sure, it may pull their focus more than a regular subject line, but once they realize it is fake, how do you think they'll feel about doing business with you? 

Instead, call it what it is: a cold email. The subject line should reflect the topic you plan to address.  

4. Be honest. 

You hope the person on the other end will want to do business with you. That's the truth. Right? So, avoid masking it.  

In the 10 seconds someone uses to glance through your email, an upfront message is more likely to elicit a response than a misguided one. People respect honesty. Below is an email I received on my birthday, camouflaged as a "Happy Birthday" message: 

Dear Carol, I wanted to wish you a very happy birthday and I hope you are celebrating this special day.     I am a big fan of your podcast. I like to say that being an entrepreneur is like being on a roller coaster, BUT, with a lot more angst than amusement!     Not sure, if you had a chance to check out my TED talk, that was released a few months ago and that has been viewed over a million times!     Don't miss the last 30 seconds, they are truly jaw-dropping!     Stay well and happy BD again, Carol! 

5. Hire a professional to edit your copy before sending it.  

At the end of the day, emails are written messages. If they are sloppily put together and misuse punctuation, the likelihood of receiving any sort of response drops. Your message won't be heard because the receiver is so distracted by your errors. 

To ensure you get the most out of cold outreach, put in the money to hire a professional to proofread your email plan before sending it out. Below is a message I received.  

Carol ... curious to see if you're looking at new deals     we are raising a $10m Series A round for Gunsens -- an AI device that stops deadly shooting threats     orders are in from school districts and retail outlets     open to a brief conversation? 

6. Don't "spray and pray."

Please stop sending out thousands of messages in hopes that 1 percent of recipients will message back. Do you remember the days of direct mail and how that worked out for businesses attempting to market themselves? How much of it did you dispose of before opening? 

The same applies to email. You'll get a better response rate when you send out fewer but take time to target them to your ideal clients.  

Take the time to carefully develop and proofread your marketing materials. This will save you money and time in the long run, ensuring a higher likelihood of response. Or this? 

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