Why your cold email template does't earn response (and fixing it)
cold email template

Why your cold email template doesn’t earn response (and fixing it)

  • By Jeff Molander

Time to read: 3 minutes. Most cold email templates and InMail templates I’ve found don’t work. Here is a fast, painless way to get more sales-focused conversations going using email or LinkedIn InMail messages. The trick is helping prospects become so curious they cannot resist responding—asking questions.

Success is all about applying copywriting techniques that create irresistible curiosity in you. Below is a better template to get started.

Why most cold email templates fail

The problem with most cold email templates is they:

  1. Accidentally communicate “sales pitch ahead” to the prospect.
  2. Take longer than 15 seconds to read.
  3. Signal “I didn’t research you” to buyers who delete you as spam.
  4. Encourage deletion because subject lines are too specific. (reveal too much)
  5. Focus on the seller’s needs rather than the customer’s problems/goals.
  6. Are more than 3-4 sentences—saying too much, too fast.
  7. Contain a list of benefits. (are a blatant sales pitch)
  8. Contain links and attachments. (never do this; it always hurts response rate)
  9. Ask for too much, too soon (e.g. requesting a meeting or call is a big mistake)

All of this adds-up to an in-ability to be provocative.

To spark curiosity in the reader.

An easy fix: Your opener

“You know what tips buyers off that the email they’re reading is a sales pitch?

‘Hi, My name is John Smith, and I’m a sales rep at Company.’

Yup. That’ll do it,” says Emma Brudner of HubSpot.

She says you should never hide. I agree. Buyers need to know you’re a seller. But there are far more creative and engaging ways of opening sales emails than the standard name-and-company introduction.

My clients report the same.

“Hi, I’m a salesperson” encourages readers to hit “delete” immediately.

“Which is a shame because you probably have something valuable to offer,” says Emma.

Instead, you can:

  • challenge the status quo situation and encourage the prospect to introspect
  • grab the prospect’s attention with a stat that encourages them to consider their situation

For example, a few of my students use the phrase, “Are you doing everything possible to _____________ ?” [insert customer’s goal] very effectively.

Few people are always doing everything possible to reach their goal. This approach forces the reader to stop and think for a moment—about their current situation.

“Am I doing everything possible?”

This often creates curiosity in what the sender has to say next. (encourages the customer to read on)

Another student I work with uses, “Are you ____________ [insert goal they want] within _________ ?” [insert time frame they would LOVE to achieve the goal].

Here’s what it looks like.

“Are you recovering 38% of your equipment in the first 2 weeks?” (when you know they are NOT and would LOVE to)

This helps you get into a situation where you can mention a potential solution.


This helps the reader to wonder, “what exactly is the sender getting at—what are they proposing?”

Avoid these commonly recommended openers

“Hey Susan,  I came across your site through our mutual…”


“Hi Susan, I read your profile on LinkedIn and wanted to reach out…”


“Hi Susan, I see you are connected with (insert name) and I’m wondering if…..”


“Apologies for the manner at which I am approaching you. My name is …”


“Hello, hope you are doing well…”

Your prospects have email spam filters. Cold email templates are being filtered out before they even see them!

Your prospects themselves are human spam filters. They see these (above) words over-and-over every day in poorly crafted cold email templates. Avoid getting deleted by not sounding like everyone else who is spamming your prospects.

Don’t do this:

Hello John,
I came across your profile on LinkedIn and noticed you won a top CIO recognition from ABC Association in 2014. Congratulations. While it might be old it speaks volumes of your experience and expertise…
Instead, I’ll show you a few unusual (but effective) ways to open your cold email templates. Join us in our next live, online class.

Remove the “I”s and “our”s

Here’s a quick way to fix your under-performing cold email template. Count all the references to yourself or your company. Target them for removal (preferred) or reduction.

Try and remove as many as possible.

I admit, not using a bunch of “I”s seems obvious. Yet you’ll find “I”s all over the place—in cold email templates that struggle to (or claim to be) successful.

Take a look—right now—at your email templates.

Be sure to:

  • avoid starting messages with an “I”
  • remove the other I’s too… and reduce references to “we” and “our”

You can do this right now with your existing cold email templates.  Or when done crafting new email or LinkedIn InMail templates go back and see if you can pluck “I”s out of it.

You’ve probably tried a lot of email templates already. Most just don’t work. If you’re willing to put a little work into these, here are the best cold email template examples I’ve found.

A common cold email template that fails

Do your cold templates focus on the recipient? You might think so. But those doggone “I”s will sabotage you every time!

Here’s an example from my inbox, with the details obfuscated to protect the innocent! Notice how terribly self-centered this message is.

Second paragraph:

I’ve recently moved into a sales role and manage customers such as _______ who use our voice, data and wifi. I was hoping to connect with you virtually and hopefully in person to learn of the challenges that your company faces so I could advise my customers on what other players in a similar domain are using.
Do you think we can connect?
Thank you in advance,
This approach fails because it is:
  • focused exclusively on the seller’s needs (educating customers???)
  • isn’t honest about why the request to connect/meet is being made (the seller needs to sell!)
  • uses the word hope (hope is weak; avoid using words like “would love to” or hope)
  • even if you know the contact updating them on your new job position is not relevant

Instead, compare this cold email formula to the above approach. See the difference?

SUBJECT:  Does this make sense for you?


Hi, [first name] Would you be open to a strange but effective way to _________________ ? [what your customer wants, positively, or needs to avoid, negatively]


If so, I’ll tell you about how Amazon.com was able to _________________ [what your customer dreams of being able to do] … all without ____________ [what your customers believe they need to sacrifice, but don’t]


Are you open to a short email exchange—to decide if a larger conversation is warranted?


Please let me know your decision, [first name]?


Thanks for considering,
[your name]


Bye the way, I offer an InMail Writing Clinic that let’s you watch me improve messages for volunteer “guinea pigs.”

If you attend I guarantee you’ll take-away a few cold email templates to test. See you then?


Image credit: Adrian Clark

About Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting conversations with busy people. As founder of Communications Edge Inc. he teaches a proven, effective communications technique to spark buyers curiosity in sales outreach & marketing messages. He's a sought-after sales communications trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe. Jeff served as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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  • Joe large says:

    Jeff, know these are older posts, but wanted to say how much they have helped me. Doing a cold email program and your info. has given me the confidence to craft emails that are BBB. Appreciate your posts.

    • Awesome words, Joe. Yup. Much of what works doesn’t change — in terms of communications techniques (and ways to interrupt that provoke response). Continued success to you!

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