The Pathological Mindset for Crushing Cold Email
Jed Mahrle is currently the top producing Outbound SDR at PandaDoc, where he also leads the SDR Outbound Team. In the second half of 2020 he averaged around 185% of his quota. He has recently also started his own weekly newsletter called ‘practical prospecting’. Jed joined Predictable Revenue to discuss the right mindset for approaching cold email, provide some useful templates, and evaluate sales emails provided by our audience.
Developing The Pathological Mindset For Cold Emailing
Drawing on his experience, Jed has a number of specific tips and pieces of guidance for developing the mindset needed to succeed at cold emailing.
Tip 1: View Your Job As Developing A Vital Life Skill
“Reframe your job and view it as a life skill.” Many people get into sales because they are ambitious, have an entrepreneurial mindset, and perhaps aim to start their own business in the future. “Being an SDR and cold emailing is really a transferable skill into whatever career you want to go into.”
Having wider goals in mind and seeing the skills you’re developing in sales as a means to an end will help you develop as an SDR. You shouldn’t simply view what you’re doing as sending out emails and booking meetings to make money for the company you’re working for. Rather, you should focus on the transferable skills that you’re developing. “This is something that’s going to help your written communication. It will help you to develop relationships with others. It’s hard to apply the tactical strategies if you don’t have that ‘why’ behind it.”
Tip 2: Steal Good Ideas
“The next point that I want to touch on is stealing ideas from the people that came before you.” This can be thought leaders on LinkedIn, the top performers at your company, or anyone else who is demonstrably successful.
There are many ways to approach this aspect. For instance, you can follow sales podcasts and save relevant LinkedIn posts. “We’ve all seen LinkedIn leaders posting screenshots of emails. I’m always capturing pictures of those.” Create a folder where you can store your notes on this, and continually add to it from any source you can. “If I see something in a book, then I’m capturing that and saving it in an organized notes file, so that I can apply those at a later date.”
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to look outside your own organization for great ideas. “One thing I try to do at the end of each week is find a couple of the top performers at my company. I look at some of the opportunities that they’ve created, and then just try to break down each email they sent”. Analyze the emails of your company’s top SDRs and assess every aspect that contributed to them gaining each opportunity. Then steal those ideas and apply them to your own practices.
Another fruitful way of doing this is trying to develop a relationship with another SDR where you share your cadences and or sequences with each other. “Reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, another SDR account executive. Share your ideas and make it a point to do that on a consistent basis. That’s where I learned a lot of the stuff that I apply today.”
Tip 3: Approach Your Work In A Methodical And Organized Way
“The last point that I want to touch on is just being methodical and organized.” This is a deceivingly simple tip, which many people overlook. It means ensuring that you save everything in structured and organized notes, constantly run A/B testing, and always pay attention to the data.
“There’s lots of great sales blogs that break down actual data from all the emails that have been sent out from their system. If you don’t know where to start with your testing, follow those. They’ve tested it so much, they’ve done so much research, so use that as a starting point for your testing.”
Jed has a series of email templates that he uses in different scenarios and has found to be highly effective. He shared them with Predictable Revenue.
Template #1: “Reaching Out”
Subject: Reaching Out
Who’s the best person at <company> to talk to about <blank>?
This first template was inspired by Predictable Revenue’s own Aaron Ross, in his book, Predictable Revenue. The key to this template is its simplicity and brevity. “I’m booking about three meetings a month from this, and I’m using it later on in the cadence when things are a little bit more automated.” The <blank> in the template is whatever problem you solve, or whatever benefit you provide.
Cold emails in particular, need to be crafted so that all extraneous words are removed. Any superfluous content can be a barrier to success. “It’s about just trying to distil it, trying to get rid of words that aren’t necessary”.
Template #2: “We Already Have X”
Prospect: “Not interested. We’re already using competitor X.”
No worries. Would it be a ridiculous idea to explore if you’re getting everything you can from your current provider?
[Relevant customer] is seeing benefits X and Y.
Template number two is designed to be a response to an objection. “As SDRs, we’re all getting objections all the time. So, try to break it down into the responses that you’re hearing more than once. Then come up with the best possible responses to those.”
Leverage your sales tools to your advantage here. If you use something like Outreach, then create two templates with different responses for each objection and test which one works better. Then, the next time you’re faced with that objection “you don’t have to waste time, you know what the best possible response to that is. You can plug it and move on to the next one.”
(Extended) Template #2: “We Already Have X”
Sounds like you’re all set right now. We’re a little different from <competitor> in <benefits of your solution>.
Would you be opposed to exploring this around the time of your renewal?
This is a less aggressive alternative approach to the last template. If you sell software, often companies have one-year contracts for their solutions. This means that renewals are frequently occurring on an annual basis. This template is designed to get you a meeting in the longer-term, when the prospect’s contract is approaching its end.
“It’s a super soft ask, and I get a lot of people that are like ‘yeah, you know what? Reach out to me in six months.’”
Template #3: “My Voicemail”
- Message 3-5 IC’s and ask, “what they’re currently using”.
- Do a triple to the Decision Maker (call, VM, and email)
- Voicemail: “Hey, just had a convo with one of your reps. Sounds like you’re using X. I’m going to send over an email that I think you’ll find relevant with the subject line “my voicemail”.
Subject: My Voicemail
Just spoke with one of your reps and it sounds like you’re using X and Y right now to accomplish Z. Open to hearing an unconventional approach that customers like <competitor of theirs> are using to improve <process>?
This email template has a little bit of a strategy attached to it. Identify some SDR account executives that you want to reach out to and introduce yourself as a fellow salesperson. Then say that you’re curious about what their company is currently using for whatever product you sell. Often salespeople are genuinely keen to help out other salespeople, so you should get a good response rate to this.
“Then you can take that information and reach out to the decision maker there. Give them a call, give them a voicemail, and shoot them an email all at the same time. I call this ‘a triple’.” The idea is to contact the decision maker in three ways in as little time as possible. Then, you’re catching their attention with the fact that you’ve already spoken to one of their reps.
Sales Templates From The Predictable Revenue Audience
Three salespeople from the Predictable Revenue audience provided examples of their own sales templates, and Jed gave his assessment of each.
Sales Email Template #1
Subject Line: A Cold Email
You probably get an absurd amount of cold emails every day so I’ll be brief.
Our proprietary data predicts, prioritizes, and contextualizes consumer trends with a degree of accuracy (>89%) that’s never been seen before.
After trying every new trend / innovation capability on the market with limited effectiveness, P&G, Kraft Heinz, Danone, J&J, McDonald’s, and SC Johnson turned to Black Swan in 2020. They trust our data and foresight expertise to power a single thread of consumer understanding across innovation, marketing, and category strategy.
Just want to leave you with one question – Do you feel you have everything you need to ensure you aren’t missing any opportunities at X?
“The first thing that stood out to me was just the fact that they’re calling themselves out.” Having “A Cold Email” as a subject line is a pattern interrupt and could be very effective at piquing curiosity. There is also great use of social proof here, with the list of brands that have used the product.
However, the email is a little long, which creates unnecessary friction and might prevent prospects from reading it. The call to action is also a little vague. “I might try to make that last question just a little bit more targeted.”
Sales Email Template #2
Does your retail website take more than three seconds to load?
We explain in a recent article, the impact of having optimal performance and why load times ensure customers make purchases. Check it out here <link>
We recently helped Hoonigan, a professional motor racing team, and popular apparel brand with their website speed. I’m happy to further share what we did for them and discuss ideas for <company name>
<Name>, what does your calendar look like this week to get up to speed on your digital commerce needs.
A major strength of this template is that it introduces the pain immediately. “It’s super problem- and pain-focused, which is awesome.” The email also makes good use of the prospect’s name. “I like using their first name, whether it’s in the middle of the email copy or the end but not just at the beginning. It makes it feel a little bit more personalized.” Finally, it’s very short, which should always be a major aim with these emails.
However, always avoid using links in an opening email. They negatively impact deliverability rates.
Sales Email Template #3
Subject: Not another funding congratulatory mail
I bet you’ve been drowning in a lot of congratulatory emails lately. I’m trying not to add to that, but hey! You folks absolutely deserve it
I hate to quote Peter Parker here, but from what I know, “with great funding, comes great responsibility”.
As you and your team set out to scale up <company>, I’m guessing you would want to make sure you make the most out of every dollar spent.
If you give me a shot, Wednesday at 3 pm, I would love to unpack an unconventional idea that could potentially help <prospect> drive more repeat purchases without burning a hole in your marketing budget!
Promise I’ll leave you alone if you’re not impressed.
“Similar to the first email, I really like how they’re calling themselves out in the subject line.” This is likely to grab a prospect’s attention. There is a very strong call to action here, too. “That could help you drive more repeat purchases.” The template also demonstrates empathy by acknowledging that the prospect has probably been contacted by lots of other SDRs.
If you’d like to hear more advice from Jed on cold email prospecting, watch the full video with Predictable Revenue here.
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