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Commentary: Cold emailing tips that drive growth in logistics sales

Email gives more control over your presentation compared with cold calling

Don’t let prospecting for customers with emails leave you out in the cold. (Photo: iStock)

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

Like cold calling, cold emailing is a vital part of the prospecting process for logistics sales. While some prospects might respond best to cold calling, others may have a better rate of response to cold emailing.

There is an advantage to using email in conjunction with cold calls, as you mix up the methods of contact. Those situations when your call doesn’t get past the gatekeeper, or your call is transferred but goes to voicemail, are an opportunity to send an email right away. If possible, confirm the email address of the person you want to reach while you have someone on the phone.

With consistency in cold emailing, you’ll find consistency in your response rate. The goal is to go after a large number of prospects. Sending more emails gives you a payoff of more responses. Your conversions may be a small percentage of the total emails sent, but it highlights the importance of sending many. Where some people in sales find discouragement in a period of no responses, others know to view this in a positive light — the numbers indicate the next positive response is just around the corner. Sales is a contact sport. The more contact you make, the more success you will find. 

Tips for cold emailing 

Research the companies you’re emailing. Be sure you know the basics of their needs, at least at a starting point. This prequalification gives you a foundation for discussion and asking the right questions, and it ensures you’ve done your part in qualifying the company as one your company is able to work with. No one likes to be “qualified” with a bunch of questions about their business. The best discussions start when a salesperson has done his or her homework and knows something about the prospect’s business long before the prospect responds or picks up the phone.

Have a specific ask in your email. The email must come down to a direct question that is clear about what you’re after — unlike the suggestion of picking their brain or grabbing a coffee to talk. The goal of the message is to be to the point and concise while showing the value you offer and centering on the prospect’s needs. Your message will be better received if it ends with the right question for the prospect to respond to.

Write your message using the following outline. Your email should contain an opening with the recipient’s name; one sentence that relates you to the prospect’s company, such as how you found them, or a comment on something about the company that you can connect with; a short introduction to you and your company, perhaps including a link; a mention of what you offer and further detail showing the value the prospect would see from this; a specific question to prompt a reply; and your email signature with contact information. The subject of your message should give the impression that it is a personalized, not mass-sent, email.

Send your cold emails at a strategic time of the week. Recipients will generally give more attention to this type of message in their inbox on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as earlier in the day. Mondays suck in general so I try not to make them worse for someone else by cluttering up the inbox on what is most likely their busiest day of the week.

Follow up on every unanswered email. Few will answer the first email, and you are much more likely to receive a response after your second message. Give the prospect a callback, leave a message and email again. Count on following up as an essential part of the process.

It is rare to get a response or an answer on your first outreach attempt. Many buyers need to be pursued for months before they have the time or interest to talk. This part is like a heavyweight boxing match where both fighters are dealing with fatigue and attrition in the later rounds. Keep swinging and eventually, your punch will connect and you will get your meeting.

Track your numbers. Keep organized on whom exactly you’re emailing and the type of responses you receive. This gives you the opportunity to make adjustments to your method and note the effect it has on your response rate. Salespeople lose their way just like athletes. When baseball players are in a slump, it is often related to a change in their approach and they need to find their swagger again. The same is true in sales. The most consistent and successful salespeople know what it takes to repeat success, year after year. This takes a pragmatic and data-driven approach to repeatable results. If you don’t know your own metrics today, that’s OK. You can start simple and realize a material improvement in your sales results by simply tracking how many “touches” you have each day, which includes how many emails you sent out, phone calls attempted and any social media DMs you sent. Once you figure out how many touches it takes to get into a discussion, then you have the basic recipe for doing it again.

Success with cold emailing comes from a foundation of the right strategies combined with persistence, in both initiating new messages and following up on unanswered emails. The advantage of email is the amount of control you have in your presentation, compared to the circumstances of cold calling. Use this to your benefit as you work to improve your process and optimize your response rate.

Charley Dehoney

Charley Dehoney is a growth-focused executive, consultant, advisor and investor, with more than 15 years of experience at the intersection of transportation technology. He's helped create revenue systems that have supported hundreds of millions of dollars in growth for the businesses he's helped build. Dehoney is currently serving as CEO of Manning's Truck Brokerage, a 50-year-old, private equity-backed logistics company. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his beautiful wife and three strapping young sons.