Does Cold Outreach Still Work?

Yes it can! Here are our 18 tips for cold calling and messaging success

Rob Boyle
Rob Boyle
May 1, 2021
Cold outreach might be the fastest path to growth. Let your prospects know that you exist with our cold outreach checklist.
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Key takeaways

  1. A successful cold outreach strategy involves careful prospect research, personalisation, clear calls to action, experimentation, follow-ups, and the use of technology for automation and analysis.
  2. Overcoming fear and maintaining persistence is crucial in cold calling, along with a well-prepared script, setting clear agendas, and effective follow-ups.
  3. Ways to increase response rates include: increasing brand recognition before initiating cold outreach, avoiding common mistakes like a lack of strategy or giving up too early, and being politely persistent.

Cold outreach is still very effective today

Are you looking for tips to grow your business? Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential prospects through cold email, phone calls or the post. Yes, that’s right. Use postal mail to reach people as well. In a world of online, sales reps can stand out with a well designed flyer or handwritten note.

The important thing to note about cold outreach is that you will need a thick skin. You will hear a lot of no’s (and worse) but don’t let that put you off.

Your ideal customer is out there and doesn’t know who you are yet. Cold messages can help you find new clients. The key is to keep at it until you succeed.

Here are our tips for successful cold message outreach campaigns.

What does cold outreach mean?

Cold outreach refers to any messaging you send to a prospect you have no prior relationship with. It can be a very effective outbound sales approach.

If you can build a connection via cold outreach, you can nurture prospects into customers.

You can connect with cold prospects via:

  • Cold email.
  • Cold calling over the phone.
  • Social media. (e.g. LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter direct messaging.)
  • In person. (For instance, at networking events.)
  • Via their website contact forms.

Today, we are focusing on the two most common cold messaging approaches.

Calling and email are the areas that cause most anxiety - and missed opportunity.

The recommendations for both also work when direct messaging or meeting face to face.

Banner image linking to a guide on ways to increase revenue

9 steps for successful cold email campaigns

Cold sales emails can be an effective way to reach potential clients. But your prospects receive hundreds of emails a day.

How can you break through the noise? Take this approach to refine your email tactics.

Infographic of cold email tips

1. Start by researching your potential prospects. Research whether they would be a good fit for your products or service. You could find prospects through research tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Or you may find people talking about a problem you can solve on social media or forums. Either way, assess whether they are interested and fit your ideal customer profile.

2. Be personal. Avoid bulk messaging and instead personalise your cold outreach emails. Personalised emails will receive better response rates.

3. Use a business email address. Nothing screams untrustworthy more than a sales pitch from a free account like gmail. It is relatively inexpensive to buy a business domain and well worth the price. Using a business email will increase trust and respectability.

4. Increase open rates by improving your email subject lines. Stand out in a busy inbox with a subject line that is brief, compelling and relevant to their needs. You could phrase it as a question addressing them directly or an informative statistic related to their industry.

5. Provide a clear call to action (CTA). What do you want them to do after reading? State precisely whether you want them to book a meeting, visit your website or request a quote/demo. Make this clear in your email copy and stick to one CTA per email to avoid confusion.

6. Test different approaches. There is no one size fits all approach so try different methods and measure the results. This could be

  • Long copy vs short, succinct paragraphs.
  • Using emojis in the subject line.
  • Including images or purely text in your email content.
  • Colour schemes such as whether to use blue or green call to action buttons.
  • Sending at different times of day.
  • Alternate CTAs.

7. Measure the results. Beyond A/B testing different approaches, you should also be measuring:

  • Open rate. Is your subject line compelling enough or are your cold emails being deleted unread?
  • Reply rate. Is your message convincing enough to persuade them to get back to you?
  • Email deliverability. a high number of bounced emails can limit the reach of future campaigns. Clean your email list before your next send.
  • Unsubscribes/spam reports. You should experience a natural decay in subscribers over time. If a large number of people are unsubscribing to cold emails then you may need to rethink your target list. Make sure you have researched your prospects. If they think you are sending spam emails you have misjudged whether they are a good fit for your business.

8. Send follow-up emails. After cleaning your email list, make sure you are following up. It could take 2 or 3 follow-ups to make a connection. Don't send the same email again. Take a different approach. Your first email may have been to introduce yourself. Your next one could share research on their industry or competitors that they could find valuable.

9. Use technology. Use a marketing automation system to send different emails based on how they interacted with the first one. For instance, if they clicked a link in the last email you could send something related to that link as it indicates their potential interest.

9 steps for a successful cold calling outreach campaign

Okay, so you have followed our tips for email and want to maximise results by combining it with cold calling. Here are 9 tips for cold calling success.

Infographic of cold calling tips

1. Do your research. Find an angle by understanding your target audience's priorities. Find the right people to reach out to. Search for cold calling templates and craft your message.

2. Make a plan. Understand what you want from the first phone call and set an agenda for each call. Write down the 3-5 main reasons you want to connect with this prospect. Then decide the factors that will qualify them as a fit for your business. Outline a framework for your messaging and create a call script based on your elevator pitch.

3. Resolve cold calling fears. It's not the end of the world! Getting started is the biggest factor to success. Practice your cold call script so you are professional and confident every time. Prepare the environment that you will be making the call from. Manage distractions in your home or office that could throw you off.

4. Make the call. Identify if you are talking to someone who is a good fit for your business. Be personable – use their name. Be clear and concise with your message. Have a pen and paper handy, and don’t hesitate to take down names and numbers. Avoid awkward silences by asking relevant questions to support the sales process.

5. Use the first call as a discovery. Don't sell with every outbound outreach. Pre-qualify with the first phone call. Start with a real conversation to learn more about them and their business. You will learn whether you are a good fit and create better connections that lead to sales.

6. End with a call to action. Close out the call by setting next steps. Do you want to arrange a follow up meeting? Book that in before ending the call to prevent email tag later.

7. Follow up. The key to not offending or annoying your prospects is to follow up, but not too often. Regular follow ups are important because you want to be top of mind when your prospect needs help.

8. Go for quantity when cold calling. Not every prospect is going to be a good fit. Accept rejection and swiftly move on the next dial. Commit to 30-60 minutes for calls and work through your list. Stay consistent and realise that it can take time. Don’t give up too early.

9. Track, analyse and improve your cold calls. What went well? What could you do better next time? Was it the right length? Did you get your message across with clarity and speed? Reflect on the call and make notes of areas to improve. Keep a record of successes and what you learn from failure.

Improve response rates by building brand awareness first

You will see better results if prospects have an idea who you are beforehand. If you are experiencing low outreach responses then you may need to warm your audience up.

You could increase brand recognition through marketing before beginning your outreach campaign. This could take the form of:

  • Content marketing such as blogging or regular social media posts.
  • Paid search campaigns targeting keywords in your prospects niche.
  • Targeted LinkedIn Ads. You can run campaigns to only show ads to specific companies, industries or job titles. Run ads with informational content for a week before reaching out. This will increase the chances prospective clients will respond.
  • Connecting first, promoting later. Connection requests followed by an immediate pitch don't go down well on LinkedIn. Warm your new connection up for a bit and give them time to read your posts. Then attempt to move them into your sales pipeline.

Avoiding common mistakes

The biggest mistakes business owners make are

  1. Not taking a strategic approach to cold outreach efforts.
  2. Giving up too early.

Be strategic

If you don't research your potential buyers your outreach process will be scattergun. Prepare a detailed list of prospects beforehand and improve those low response rates.

If you know your target market and buyer persona well, you can personalise your cold outreach messages. This will then lead to increased reply rates.

Be politely persistent

Savvy business veterans don't give up their cold outreach efforts after the first no. You shouldn't either.

Schedule follow-up messages to your cold prospects. Share relevant content designed to get a positive response.

It may take time to turn prospects into warm leads. Sharing news about their industry can help to slowly build lasting relationships.

Final thoughts

You're probably not making enough sales with the customers you already have. Cold outreach for a small business owner might be your fastest path to growth and new customers.

Let your target market know that you exist and use this guide as a cold outreach checklist.

Need some advice on outreach strategy? Get in touch with our team for a strategic audit tailored to your needs.

Frequently asked questions

About the author

Rob Boyle is the founder of Jigsaw Metric and oversees content strategy and research projects. 

As a child of small business owners, Rob understands the challenges of growing without resources. He set up Jigsaw Metric as a side project to help more small businesses grow from 10 to 1,000 customers. 

For Rob, digging into the data and seeing KPI charts trend upwards is the most rewarding part of the role.

When not devouring business plans and books, Rob enjoys playing guitar and spending quality time with his infant daughter and toddler son.