How to write cold emails that bring you through the door
The first call of action for independent consultants to win new business is typically through referrals, whether from past clients, previous colleagues or freelance peers. However, most independents need to go beyond warm referrals from time to time and write cold introductory emails to potential clients.
It is essential to manage expectations though.
A cold email to a potential client has only one purpose: For you to get through the door and secure a call or meeting. No one will hire you or buy a service based on a cold email. It is only the first step, but an important step.
You need to quickly demonstrate credibility and get the recipient to take action. An effective cold introduction email, sometimes called a Letter of Introduction (LoI), should briefly introduce your services and how they may help your target clients. It’s crucial to tailor your service offerings to the clients’ needs and indicate which of your services may offer value to them in your message.
Introductory emails must include only what’s relevant to the client. Moreover, independent consultants must ensure emails are short, sharp, approachable, and not too sales-y. The result? You will get through the door and secure that crucial in-person call or meeting. As much as we would like an easy-to-comprehend copy and paste formula for drafting introductory emails that convert, the reality is different. However, while writing great introductory emails is a bit of an art, there is some science behind it, too. Below, we’ll present you with a few tricks and tips to outline the perfect introductory email which could help you get in touch with your next big client.
Your guide to writing great emails that secure meetings
Here’s our six-point checklist for writing effective introductory emails that bring in the right clients for your freelance business.
1. First and foremost, identify the right company and contact person
Before anything else, it’s essential to target the clients you can imagine yourself working with. Study company backgrounds, or tap into your own experience as an independent consultant or from previous permanent jobs. We recommend focusing on companies that are likely to be buyers of your services, then drilling down and identifying the person who will make the decision.
Pitch yourself to the right people, and the probability of you converting the potential client increases manifold.
2. Find the email address
There are several tools out there to help you identify a person’s professional email. Examples include Zoominfo, Lusha, and Rocketreach. We want to reiterate the point made above – only send cold emails to people who could genuinely benefit from your services. If you go too wide on your targeting, the likelihood is high that people will block emails from you and mark them as spam. This also increases the likelihood of all of your emails to other recipients going into spam if mail services start getting spam notifications linked to your email address
3. Pique interest with an exciting subject line
An interesting subject line can compel the recipient to open your email. After all, a stranger is unlikely to open an email from someone they don’t know unless it grabs their attention. A subject line needs to be clear, creative, and self-explanatory.
“Are you looking for (your job title and services you provide)?” Or have you considered content marketing (if you specialise in content writing)?”
Or, maybe convey the direct benefit of your service — “30% growth in sales in the next six months.”
4. Start strong!
Adjust your salutation to the specific industry and company you are targeting. For example, use the typical “Dear” for someone in a conservative professional environment and a more casual “Hey” or “Hello” for a potential lead working in a more relaxed industry. Moreover, add a personal touch to the greeting by using the recipient’s first name.
If possible, identify common acquaintances with the recipient and refer to them in the first sentence to establish context and enhance the chances of getting a reply. And don’t forget to research the company and establish relevance with the recipient. Maybe, praise a recent piece of their work that you found interesting. Remember, a genuine compliment never goes to waste.
Moreover, researching = listening and may help you grab the recipient’s attention and understand how to add value to their work.
5. Dive into the purpose of your email
It’s time to hit the hammer on the nail and discuss how you, as an independent consultant, can add value to their business.
- Firstly, keep it short – not more than 3-4 short paragraphs.
- Give a brief intro about your background (e.g. “I’m a Transformation Manager with 7 years experience leading digital transformation projects, first as an employee at Deloitte, and more recently as an independent consultant supporting brands such as Brand X and Y.)
- Try very hard to make your introductory email as relevant as possible to the recipient — you don’t want them to feel like they are receiving a boilerplate message. Include a sentence or paragraph that truly shows that it is tailored and that you understand their situation. For example, you could say something like: “As CTO of BANK X, I assume you and your team are very busy implementing the new core banking system reported on in PUBLICATION X and might need support from additional transformation managers with proven implementation skills.”
- Make reference to any case study you can attach or links to your available work. If you need help with your case studies, please see the templates we have developed for you.
- For more information, refer to your LinkedIn profile. We recommend this instead of attaching a CV as clients typically are ware of opening many attachments. (If you need tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile, please see here.)
- Avoid jargon, flowery adjectives, or language not supported by facts – don’t forget a spell check!
6. Last but not least, include a call-to-action (CTA)
No effective introductory email is complete without a CTA. It’s the final piece to your puzzle — short, crisp, polite, and placed prominently — it all together.
Most commonly, it would be an ask to reply to so that the recipient can learn more about your background and skills. It could also be a link to “schedule a meeting” or a link to your website if that can provide them with additional information. Keep in mind to keep it confident but not overly sales-y.
Good luck, and go ahead and try it out for yourself.