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This Is The Cold Email I Used to Connect With C-Level Execs at 22 of the World's Biggest Companies

With little more than a subject line and a body, I was able to establish rapport, build a client base and generate revenue for my company.

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Sending a cold email can make you feel like a scientist searching for alien life -- once it shoots out into the ether, the chances of ever hearing a response are astronomically low.

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But still, we persist. And, on occasion, they even work. Below is the cold email that helped me connect with 22 C-level executives at some of the world’s largest public companies, including the COO of an international retailer, chief innovation officer of a worldwide apparel company, president of a global lifestyle brand and CEO of a luxury global brand, all with over $4 billion in sales for 2016. Using these relationships, which began with little more than a subject line and a body, I was able to establish rapport, build a client base and generate revenue for my company.

Related: 6 Tips to Make You Love (or at Least Tolerate) Cold Calling

Yes, it’s simple -- but, it works. First, here’s the email:

Sent: 7:00 am

Subject: Dropel Fabrics Introduction

Hi XXXX - Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Brad, the co-founder of Dropel Fabrics.

We develop performance-enhanced natural fabrics unlike any you’ve ever seen. For example, DropelTech Cotton is a water and stain repellent fabric that maintains softness and breathability -- allowing customers to stay clean, dry, fresh, and comfortable.

As President of XXXX, I respect your time and will be brief. Dropel can add value to your brand through our proprietary fabric technology. The world is taking notice as we announce exciting new partnerships with features in Forbes, Business Insider, Time, Yahoo, Mashable, Bloomberg and WWD.

Please let me know if you're available to chat tomorrow or Thursday afternoon. I’m looking forward to discussing how we can work together.



Now, let's break it down piece by piece:

Sent: 7:00 am

People are most responsive early in the day.

There are a lot of theories out there as to the best time of day to send an email. Some people say to wait until the afternoon when people are bored and clicking around for things to do. Others say to catch them at night when they’re cleaning house after a day’s worth of work.

They are wrong. For six months, I sent an average of 300 emails a day and charted the responses based on time of day. I did this by setting up API links between our lead-generation tool ( Connect, if you’re curious), email marketing service (the ever-reliable MailChimp), and CRM (SalesForceIQ). These emails were spread out throughout the day, with 100 messages going out at 7 a.m. EST, 100 at 12 p.m. EST, and 100 at 6 p.m. EST. Using the built-in reporting features in SalesForceIQ, I exported the records and analyzed the data in Excel.

The results: The email open and reply rates were highest at 7 a.m. EST. With a mid-week bump showing Wednesday to be the single best day of the week. Not an early riser? I use Boomerang to schedule sending my emails at specific times.

Related: How I Made $8,600 Per Hour Recording Personalized Voicemails

Subject: Dropel Fabrics Introduction

Use a simple subject line.

Time spent fretting over the perfect clever subject line is wasted time -- at least when it comes to messaging senior executives. After trying a bunch of cute and clever lines (“We’re Materially Different” for my fabric company), my analytics tools showed that short and simple subjects (“Dropel Fabrics Introduction)” performed the best, and caused the highest likelihoods that this audience would open or reply to my messages.

Fact is, people dismiss sales language and react better to familiar words. By using a subject line that sounds like one an executive might get from a friend or colleague (when was the last time your business partner sent you an overly crafted haiku as a subject line?), there’s an implicit trust -- or even a perception that we may know each other, even if we’ve never met.

And for those not-so-cold emails going out to people you might have met at an event or get introduced by a mutual friend, don’t forget to put your connection in the subject line: “Post-SXSW Panel Follow-up” or “Brad Feinstein Intro: Michael <--> Dropel Fabrics”.

Related: 4 Cold Email Subject Lines That Generated $4 Million in Sales

Hi XXXX Let me take a moment to introduce myself. 

Double-check every single name.

The biggest mistake you can possibly make when emailing a large number of people at once? Making it obvious that you’re emailing a large number of people at once. Everybody -- especially senior-level execs -- wants to feel like they are receiving a personal message. The more you can make your (potentially mass) email feel like a piece of customized content, the more likely they are to respond.

I’m not saying don’t use a mail merge program, which lets you automate the process of sending large batches of emails to people. I’m saying don’t be lazy about using it. It is a huge red flag if an email addresses somebody using the sort of language that is only found in a spreadsheet. It’s amazing how many emails I’ve seen that are addressed to “Feinstein, Bradley” or “Dropel, Inc.” There is no way a human bothered to type that out. I checked each name and company to ensure the info was accurate and presented in the best possible before hitting send.

Another red flag: When the body of an email has a different font color or format from the person’s name. This happens all the time, and may not even be visible on your screen when you send. To fix it and keep your message format uniform, use the “Remove Formatting” feature in Gmail (hint: there’s actually a button for this on the bottom of your message as you type, just above the "Send" button and to the right).

Bottom line: So many cold emails come off like they came from robots. You want your communication to sound like you're a person because, you are a person.

Related: 3 Cold Email Strategies With High Response Rates

I'm Brad, the co-founder of Dropel Fabrics.

Have an air of familiarity.

The best way to start selling is by introducing yourself. The reason for this is simple: People are more likely to open an email from someone familiar than a stranger. You want to show that you’re a real person, hustling to get their attention. Listing your title and including a link to your website is a quick way to build unconscious credibility.

Be quick about this, and don’t overdo it by coming across too friendly (“What’s up?”) or too aggressive (“Your business will fail without us”).

And the email address you use matters. Maintain the professional nature of the relationship by using a work email as opposed to a Gmail (or, God forbid, AOL) address. Messages that come from a generic company email that doesn’t have your name associated with it ( can come off as a phishing scam.

We develop performance-enhanced natural fabrics unlike any you’ve ever seen. For example, DropelTech Cotton is a water and stain repellent fabric that maintains softness and breathability -- allowing customers to stay clean, dry, fresh, and comfortable.

Explain what your company does in one or two sentences.

This is the most important paragraph of the email. You must clearly and concisely explain what your company does, and how that can potentially solve their problems or make them money.

Of course, this is far more complicated than it seems. The key is to target executives at a time when they can actually benefit from whatever it is you’re offering (there’s a reason startups that just raised cash get inundated by HR and accounting services). In other words, it’s all about timing. Make sure you target your introductions so they come at the moment where the stars are aligning, and it makes sense for you to work together.

Related: 5 Ways to Automate Your Sales Processes This Year

As President of XXXX . . . 

Target the decision maker.

I use tools like Pardot and Connect to build a pipeline of high-quality leads and target the right decision makers.

My initial outreach strategy targeted managers and then directors. The goal was to engage those who can execute on new projects. I achieved a 19 percent response rate. While this is pretty high, these results are a bit misleading because 60 percent of those replies were being passed along to other managers or directors, and many of those fizzled.

I then spent countless hours dissecting the corporate hierarchies of 10,000-person companies trying to figure out strategic entry points. This was time-intensive and hard to scale. Instead, I decided to target C-level execs and presidents because, to put it simply, people do not ignore emails that come from their bosses.

If a company CXO passes down an email to an employee, that employee is going to follow-up. Period. Once I started targeting executives, the pass-along rate of replies skyrocketed to 100 percent. You read that right: There was not one email that was passed along from an executive down to an employee that went unanswered.

Also, see No. 3: Make sure you get the name of the company right.

Related: The Art of the Follow-Up

I respect your time and will be brief.

Be brief.

Show you understand their time is valuable by keeping the email short. Three or four paragraphs, max. Oh, and use the plug-in Grammarly to check your grammar before sending.

Dropel can add value to your brand through our proprietary fabric technology. The world is taking notice as we announce exciting new partnerships with features in Forbes, Business Insider, Time, Yahoo, Mashable, Bloomberg and WWD.

Explain why they should care.

Let’s just assume your target executive has never heard of you. Be a barnacle, and attach yourself to a name they have heard of. Has a noteworthy media outlet covered you? Mention it. Do you have a partnership with a noteworthy company? Mention it. Do you have jaw-dropping stats or figures that might draw their attention? You got it -- mention it.

Related: Simple Tips for Writing Emails That Get Read

Please let me know if you're available to chat tomorrow or Thursday afternoon.

Be specific and actionable.

Don’t let a piqued interest fizzle out. You want to make it easy for your audience to continue the conversation by providing immediate follow-up times. Any iota of interest is a tiny window and burst of momentum, and you need to capitalize on it asap.

For my messages, I explored both open-ended (“Let’s connect next week”) and specific asks (“tomorrow at 2 p.m. or 4 p.m.”). The best results came when I offered a frame of reference with an element of flexibility (“tomorrow or Thursday afternoon”). Name a couple of specific times, but obviously be accommodating for whatever happens to work for your VIP recipient.



Lean on technology.

Sure, you can send 1,000 individual emails, but that’s a total waste when software can handle most of the heavy (and most boring) lifting. Use CRM software to organize your contacts and track interactions. I like Zoho and SalesForceIQ. Both have capabilities to create automated workflows and provide organizational superpowers for an efficient follow-up process.

Since moving over to CRM software, I saw an incredible influx of new business development opportunities -- and was able to pinpoint what works (see above) and what doesn’t.

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