Warm email prospecting: How to make more sales by writing to an audience of one

The best sales emails sound like they came from a trusted friend.

That requires the sender to understand who their recipient is and what they want. Otherwise, you’re just another stranger clogging their inbox.

Creating a sense of familiarity goes a long way in email outreach, and warm emailing helps you do that. Once you understand how warm email prospecting works, you’ll be able to generate a steady stream of leads for your business, book more sales calls, and close more deals.

Let’s take it from the top…

What Is a Warm Email?

As first defined by veteran copywriter and business coach Ed Gandia, warm emailing is a targeted, personalized outreach strategy in which each email is handcrafted and written for one person only. Through extensive research, the sender positions himself/herself as a knowledgeable professional who can solve the recipient’s specific problems.

Just like warm calling, warm emailing efforts might also include a pre-contact touch—such as a targeted ad campaign or an intro email from a mutual contact—to get the recipient more amenable to opening and responding to your message.

Because these emails feel so much more relevant than the average cold email, they can have a dramatic impact on response rates, booked sales calls, and closed deals.

Before we show you what the ideal warm email should look like, here are a few general concepts you should keep in mind to leverage this strategy successfully.

4 Quick Tips for Warm Email Success

1. Understand Your Email’s Purpose

Many sales reps never see success from their email prospecting efforts because they try and do too much in each message. When sending warm emails, you have one purpose and one purpose only: to start a conversation, preferably on the phone, with your prospect. That’s it.

In that sense, warm emails are no different than cold emails: You’re not trying to make a sale. You’re not trying to convince the recipient to start their free trial. You’re not even trying to prove to them that your company’s offerings are better than the competition. You’re simply trying to book a phone call with them.

When you understand this, everything becomes much easier.

2. Know Who You’re Trying to Reach

Now that you understand the purpose of your email, it’s time to do research. You need to “know” the person who you’ll be contacting: Which company they work for, the position they hold, the problems they have that your company’s product can solve, etc. Many of these details can be found via LinkedIn.

Related: 6 tips for writing the perfect LinkedIn cold outreach message

The more you know about your prospects on an individual level before contacting them, the better. Research allows your messages to sound highly relevant and personalized. It’s how you turn traditional cold emails into a strategic warm email prospecting system.

While researching, you’ll also want to look for what Ed Gandia calls a “meaningful connection.” (We’ll cover this in more detail later.)

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3. Keep an Eye on Email Length

Brevity is essential when conducting warm email prospecting. In general, try to keep your warm emails short and sweet—around the 125-word mark, give or take.

Remember, your prospect didn’t ask to be contacted. They’re probably busy and if they open up your message and see a giant wall of text, they’ll delete it without reading anything. 125 words should be enough to state the value your company brings to the table, establish some credibility, and make an ask to connect on the phone.

4. Get on Your Contacts’ Radars

As we mentioned earlier, a pre-contact touch makes your recipients more familiar with you, and more willing to open your initial email. That can take a number of forms:

  • Use your recipients’ email addresses to create a custom ad audience on Facebook or LinkedIn, and run an ad for your company that will be served to all the people you plan on contacting the following week.
  • Send connection request to your recipients on LinkedIn before emailing them. Even simply viewing their profiles without making a connection request could get them curious about who you are so that they look at your profile.
  • Ask a mutual connection to send out an introduction email.
  • If your company uses direct mail assets such as postcards or catalogs, make sure to send something to your upcoming recipients before you reach out to them personally.

How to Structure Your Warm Email Messages

An effective warm email has a specific, four-part structure. Crafting your messages in this order will help you secure higher response rates.

A Meaningful Connection

Each of your emails should start with a meaningful connection—something relatable that ties you to the prospect. For example, perhaps you discovered via LinkedIn research that your prospect is frustrated by the HR software her company is currently using. Since you sell HR software, you’ve just uncovered a meaningful connection that directly bridges the gap between what you have to offer and your prospect’s pain-point.

Not every meaningful connection needs to be so direct, though. For instance, maybe you discover that your prospect’s company just received a new round of funding. You could email your prospect, congratulate her, and tastefully mention that a portion of their new funds could be spent on your company’s products.

A meaningful connection can even be something unrelated to business. As a freelance copywriter, it’s my job to sell my writing services. I once secured a long-standing client due to a mutual love of cheese. That’s right, cheese.

After conducting my research on the company in question, I discovered that the marketing director was a bit of a cheese connoisseur. I happen to be as well. In fact, my wife buys me a wheel of cheese for Christmas every year. It’s a quirky tradition that I love, and I decided to share the anecdote with my prospect in my warm email. It worked, we hit it off, and I wrote content for that client for a long time.

A meaningful connection is simply a bridge that connects you to your prospect. It can be business-related or completely personal, but whatever it is, your prospect must find it relatable.

A Value Statement

Part two of your warm email is your value statement. This is where you explain what your company does, who your company creates products for, and why your products are better than the competition’s.

It can be easy to lay it on too thick here. Shouldn’t your prospect know from the very beginning about each of the 16 features that your product has, and all 10 reasons why it’s a better option than competitor A, B, and C? Definitely not.

You want to keep this section brief. Just a sentence or two that quickly and succinctly explains what you’re offering and why it’s worth your prospect’s consideration. Remember, you aren’t trying to actually sell anything at this point. You’re just trying to share enough information to pique their interest and schedule a phone call.

A Credibility-Building URL

Next, you need to include what Ed calls a “credibility-building URL.” This title is slightly misleading. You don’t necessarily need to include a link, but you do need to share some credibility-boosters. A link is just the easiest way to do it in most circumstances.

What kinds of things build credibility? It depends on what you’re selling, but you can never go wrong with customer testimonials or case studies. If your company has a section on its website that contains these materials, share it. (At Nutshell, we like to share our #madprops tweet collection to give prospects a bunch of bite-sized testimonials to browse through.)

When sharing case studies, share the stories that will be most relatable to your prospect. For example, if your prospect works in the healthcare industry, send them case studies featuring your other customers in that field.

By adding a credibility element into your warm email prospecting efforts, you’ll convince your prospects that a phone call with you is worth their time.

A Clear Call-To-Action

Finally, you need to end your warm email with a strong call-to-action. Fortunately, this step is quite simple. You don’t need to concoct some elaborate CTA or rack your brain trying to come up with the most enticing phrase.

Instead, keep it simple and end your warm email with an invitation to connect. This is best done in the form of a question. For example, “Does it make sense to connect on this?” or “Would you be interested in scheduling a 15 minute call soon?”

I always recommend ending your email with a question. Why? Because, as humans, we’ve been trained our entire lives to answer the questions asked of us. Ending your message with a quick query is a small psychological trick that will boost your response rate.

The Perfect Warm Email Template

Warm email prospecting is a great strategy for sales reps is because it allows personal connections to be made with prospects while still remaining scalable.

The key to making your warm email prospecting efforts scalable is to build a winning email template—a customizable outline that does 80% of the work for you so that you can send more emails faster. Here’s a good warm email example to get you started:

Dear [NAME],

I recently read in the Sacramento Bee about BBM’s incredible growth—from 0 to 500 employees in just two years. That’s an amazing accomplishment. Congrats!

I’m writing because I may be able to help you better manage all of your new workers. At HR Elite, we create award-winning software that allows HR managers like yourself to better onboard, track, and reward their employees with our innovative suite of HR tools.

Our product is consistently rated as a top performer on both Capterra[LINK] and G2 Crowd[LINK] and we’ve served thousands of happy customers over the past five years. You can read a few in-depth customer stories here:

[LINK TO CASE STUDIES PAGE]

Would you be interested in scheduling a 15-minute call this week to learn more about how our software can help?

Thanks,

[YOUR NAME]

As you can see, this warm email template example has each of the four essential elements we discussed. It can also be easily tweaked for each individual prospect.

Wrapping Up: Make Warm Email Prospecting a Part of Your Sales Process

Warm email prospecting is an amazing tool that I believe every sales rep should be using. I encourage you to take what I’ve shared in this article and test it out “in the wild.” See if it works as well for you as it has for me and thousands of other sales professionals.

Remember, it all comes down to the four-part structure. Start with a meaningful connection, then state your value proposition, include a credibility builder, and end with a compelling CTA in the form of a question. Doesn’t sound too hard, right? Good luck!

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