5 Best Cold Emails We’ve Ever Sent + Downloadable Templates

These cold email examples brought us lots of warm leads

Want to send cold emails that are tested and proven to work for prospecting?

Then this is the right guide for you.

We will cover 👇:

  1. How to structure each cold email step in the sequence
  2. How not to cold email
  3. How to get your CEO on hundreds of podcasts
  4. How to prospect with your competitor’s partners
  5. How to build partnerships with consultancies
  6. How to build your integrations site
  7. How to approach your backlink outreach
  8. What we tried that didn’t work

How to structure each cold email step in the sequence

To start off, I’ll break down how to structure each step of your cold email sequence. Then I’ll go into detail using 5 cold email examples we’ve sent that brought us a 32% reply rate on average. 💪

That means 32% of people responded to our top 5 cold email sequences on average.

When the average cold email response rate is 1%, you know we’re onto something! 😏

First cold email step

Above anything, it’s important to write each email as if you were writing it to one person. When you frame your mind as if you’re going to send this email to one person, your cold email will come off way more personal and less like an automated blast sent out to a huge list.

For your first cold email step, it’s important to:

  1. Establish quickly why you’re getting in touch
  2. State clearly what the person can gain from your email
  3. Ask a very low barrier question (no, people don’t want to “jump on a call” right away…)

For example, I almost always ask them who the right person to talk to is.

It doesn’t make sense to bombard someone if you aren’t even 100% sure they’re the person you’re supposed to be cold emailing anyway. 🤔

Plus, once someone puts you in contact with a colleague, you’re almost certain you’ll keep getting answers.

Second (& more) cold email follow up steps

The follow up email(s), depending on how many you send, are where you should try to take a different angle on your initial proposal.

For example, ask if there’s a form to fill out or establish a bit more credibility to show them why your email adds value to them. This helps you approach the situation a little differently, without starting over from scratch.

I’ll go into more detail on the different angles you can take in our cold email example templates below.

The breakup email

Our last email in our cold email examples are what we call the “breakup email”. 💔

I always let the person know I won’t be following up more after this. This gives them a warning that if they’ve been too busy to answer, now is the time – otherwise the email will get lost in their inbox forever.

Although it may not sound too crazy – it works! I often get replies to this email from people letting me know they are interested but haven’t had time to dig in and it’s best to follow up in a certain amount of days, weeks or months. 👍

How not to cold email

Before we jump into our cold email examples, I’ll quickly touch on what doesn’t work. 🚫

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a bad cold email. The type of email that comes off lazy and makes you do all the work to figure out what they want. The one that gives you the feeling that the sender is blatantly inconsiderate of your time.

Something along the lines of:

  1. A giant wall of text
  2. Highlighting what they want out of you and not what’s in it for you
  3. And not the right fit for your industry at all

Avoid this at all costs. It may seem obvious, but we’ve all received them.

At best, you’ll get ignored; at worst, you’ll be marked as spam, hurting your deliverability rates.

If this was you in the past – don’t sweat it. We all started somewhere and everyone has their own embarrassing cold email prospecting fails. 🥴

It’s time now to leave those types of cold emails in the past. Use our cold email example templates in this guide to nail your prospecting. 🎯

Now for the good stuff – below you’ll find 5 examples of our best cold emails we’ve sent at Salesflare.

I’ll state the goal of the sequence, explain why we structure each step like that and why it works.

Save these cold email templates for reuse instead of re-typing the text from this guide by downloading the templates here. 👇

Don’t have a list of leads to cold email yet? First, build your lead list.

Podcasts: How to get your CEO on hundreds of podcasts

Goal: get our CEO, Jeroen, on a podcast. (We’ve written a detailed guide on how to get on podcasts to.)

My podcast sequence is my best performing sequence with a 48% met goal rate – meaning about half of the people I sent the sequence to replied. 🤯

48% of people replied to the sequence! 🤯 (as measured by Salesflare‘s built-in email workflows)

I’ll break down how I set this sequence up. 👇

Before writing my first email I tried to think in the podcast host’s shoes. They probably get hundreds of requests like this a week. How can I stand out?

First, I focused on making it as easy as possible for them by asking if they’re the right person to talk to. If not, they can quickly pass it onto the person responsible for me to discuss further.

Here you go ✨

I made sure to establish our company a bit by including that we’re the #1 CRM on Product Hunt, but I didn’t bombard them with a ton of information on Jeroen or Salesflare before finding out if they’re the right person to pitch to.

Focus on who the right person to talk to is

Next, I followed up by trying to approach it from a different angle. I tried to think what other ways a podcast host might vet potential guests.

I first reiterated my question of who the right person to talk to is, assuming with no answer they may not be the right person. Then I approached it from the new angle, asking – is there a form I should fill out instead? 📝

All of this still keeping in mind that I’m trying to make this as easy as possible for them.

Approach from a different angle

For the next follow up, I come from an even different approach.

I can assume they’re ignoring me either because they’re not the person who handles this or because I haven’t built any trust with them yet and they don’t know who Jeroen or Salesflare is.

To establish ourselves, I provide a bit more information on Jeroen and point them to Jeroen’s personal podcast link. That way, if they were skeptical, they can quickly do a little research on Jeroen, but I’m also not bombarding them with information yet without them giving any sign of interest.

I also leave a note that I understand it’s hard to weed through all the messages to show them that I’m also human and understanding, but to establish confidence that I indeed think Jeroen is the right fit. ✅

Providing more info

Last is the aforementioned breakup email. If they’re interested but haven’t answered by now because they’re busy, they may still be somewhat relying on my follow up.

I send this email out as a last Hail Mary to show that I won’t follow up anymore and that if they are indeed too busy, they can send me a quick note to let me know or else it will get lost in their inbox forever.

With a 5% reply rate – again, this email does work! 100% of the replies at this step are people telling me that they’re really busy but they’re interested and to check back in x amount of weeks/months. If I didn’t give them this warning, we could have missed out on that last 5%.

Breaking up

And that’s how, in the end, we’ve booked hundreds of valuable podcast appearances in the past year!

Partners: How to prospect with your competitor’s partners

Goal: get on a call with HubSpot partners (the big gorilla) to discuss possibilities.

In the first email we try to gauge their interest by finding out – are they loyal to selling HubSpot? Or are they the type of consultancies that sell multiple products based on what fits their customers best?

I let them know why I’m reaching out and tell them what’s in it for them by framing the email around giving their customers another option if HubSpot isn’t the right fit.

I lastly ask the same question as from the first sequence – I check if they’re the right person to talk to or if there’s someone better to reach out to.

In the second email, I try to gain a bit of credibility by showing them how we compare to HubSpot. I included a visual of how Salesflare compares to HubSpot from G2 (the world’s leading B2B review platform).

I ask at the end to let me know if they think it’d be interesting to partner together.

In the 3rd email, I tried to sell us a little bit more over HubSpot by quickly pointing out the main advantages to Salesflare compared to HubSpot. The short list is easy and quick to read and can help them connect to what their customers may be looking for and how it may fit them if HubSpot isn’t the right choice.

I also ask to get on a call if they’re interested. What’s important here is that I explain what the agenda of the meeting is. That way they can understand exactly what the call would be about and that it’s not just another cold sales call where I try to push something on them.

In all honesty, with a 1% reply rate we probably could have done way better. Maybe with a shorter email or another call to action we could have had better results, but we didn’t test it further at the time.

There’s always room for improvement!

Lastly, another version of our breakup email. I ask them one last time to book a meeting if they’re interested, otherwise I wish them the best. 👋

This sequence didn’t have a massive result like the previous one, as many of the people we emailed weren’t a great match as a potential partner, but that’s something we only learned along the way.

Plus, we probably could have still upped the results with shorter and clearer messages and better call to actions.

Still, 18% reply rate is 18x better than 1%. 😏 And we did get on a whole lot of calls!

Consultancies: How to build partnerships with consultancies

Goal: get sales consultancies to fill out a form so we could add them to our top sales training programs list (and essentially start building a relationship with them).

44% replied to this email sequence

For the first email, I wanted to let them know what my intentions were – to build a list with them in it and get it ranking in Google. Then I thought, if I got an email like this I’d think, “too good to be true”.

That’s why I made sure to add the P.S. section letting them know exactly why we were making the list and that there are no strings attached.

For the second email, I asked if they were the right person to talk to, but I also made sure to include the survey link this time. That way, they could check out the questions and confirm our intentions.

For my last email, I again let them know that it was the last time I’d be following up in case there was still any interest.

You may start seeing the recurring pattern here that I explained at the top.

It’s really simple but powerful, especially when you build the cold email sequence with a large dose of empathy. 💌

Let’s go on and explore a few more possible applications of it, before showing you what didn’t work for us. 👇

Integrations: How to build your integrations site

Goal: get listed on integration sites.

42% replied to this email sequence

I started off this cold email by establishing our relationship by explaining that we both integrate through Zapier. And since we both had an integrations site, I let them know I’m happy to add them to ours and asked if they would add us to theirs as well.

This way, they knew exactly what my intentions were and they could clearly understand what I was offering.

For the second email, I approached it by framing it in regard to their customers. This way, they could see that adding us to their integration site would not only be beneficial for their them, but also for their customers.

Like always, I ended it by letting them know I wouldn’t be following up anymore. This helped create urgency for them to get back to me if there was still any interest.

You can see how well this worked this time with a 27% reply rate! 🚀

Backlinks: How to approach your backlink outreach

Goal: get companies to link to blog posts we’re trying to rank.

Although this sequence doesn’t have the highest reply rate, I’ve noticed that if they do reply, we’re able to build a long-term relationship that goes beyond this type of quick-win SEO tactics into stronger and more sustainable content partnerships.

For the first email, I tried to think about the person receiving this email again. I imagined they get tons of backlink requests in their inbox. That’s why I kept it clear and concise.

The gist: We have a high ranking website, we can give you links, would you like to work together to bring both our rankings up?

For the follow up email, I focused on finding the right person to talk to. That way, they could pass it off quickly if they were too busy or not responsible.

Lastly, I sent them the breakup email letting them know that I wouldn’t be following up anymore.

That’s it. Super simple. ✅

In very short: when writing these cold emails, it’s important to first decide what you’re going after, feel empathy for the other person as if you were in their shoes, and clearly define what they can get out of the email.

Want to re-use some of the text I wrote? (Again, keep in mind that empathy comes first! So do adapt it carefully to your specific case.) Then you can get the above cold email templates sent straight to your inbox by clicking “download the templates” below.

Bonus: What we tried that didn’t work

Some things work, some things don’t. Even when following the simple guidelines above, it doesn’t guarantee success.

Here’s two email sequences we tried that didn’t work… and why they probably didn’t.

Automatically email people who are on the site

You know these tools that track which companies visit your site?

We used to use Leadworx. It’s discontinued now, but there’s multiple similar alternatives listed on our integrations site.

Here’s how we had it set up:

  1. Leadworx would detect which company visited the site (based on IP etc.)
  2. If the company hit our filter for the target audience, it would look for the right people at the company automatically, including their contact details
  3. Through the integration with Salesflare it would add an account, opportunity (in a specific pipeline), and related contacts to Salesflare
  4. This would trigger an email workflow in Salesflare automatically (with email tracker built-in)

True magic! ✨

However… only 5% of people replied.

That’s still 5x more than 1%, but also 5x below our expectations.

The gist of our email: we detected you’ve been browsing, can we help?

Sounds like a plan?

Well, the major issue here is that although we get multiple 10,000s of companies checking out our site each month, Leadworx only successfully detected 112 companies with contacts over a span of almost 10 months.

And when we look at who replied, it was a potential partner, a competitor of ours, and a few people who changed jobs in the meantime 😝

The conclusion here: we don’t know for sure whether this email works or not, because the lead list we targeted was too imprecise and too small. This is crucial too!

Email journalists about our latest funding round

For all the talk about empathy above, we didn’t do a great job on this one.

Everyone tries to grab the attention of journalists, so if you’re reaching out to them, you need to go the extra mile when it comes to using your empathy and bringing clarity fast.

That’s unfortunately not what we did here… and we got 0 replies.

We got too excited here by our news, which made us lose touch with what the journalists were looking to read.

Does a journalist get excited if we say it’s exciting? No.
Do they care that another journalist has written about it already? It might.
Do they consider yet another funding round newsworthy enough? Probably not.
What about one where a co-founder of a competitor invests? That may actually do it! 🧐

If we’d send this again, we’d probably lead with that as follows:

Hi {{ first_name }}!

Spicy stuff: the co-founder of one of our competitors led our latest investment round, closed this week.

This got covered by De Tijd (the Belgian equivalent of the Financial Times) already, but it hasn’t hit international tech press just yet.

If you’re interested, I’m happy to give you the inside scoop. Just call me soon at <myphonenumber>.

If we’d have structured it like this, the journalist could have been hooked by the first sentence, reeled it by the second, and called to action by the third.

Or not… You don’t know before you actually try it… Next time! 😄

To achieve reply rates similar to the ones we’re usually getting (around 30%), it’s not just important to write great emails, but also to use a great tool to send them out.

We – of course – use our own software, Salesflare, whose CRM also allows you to follow up and build relationships after they reply. Because getting a reply is only 20% of the work…

Here’s how it works in short:

With Salesflare, once you’ve built your lead list, simply import the contacts with a certain tag, for example, and they’re automatically entered into your cold email sequence (called email workflows in Salesflare).

Once people reply to your cold email sequences, you’re able to move them down the pipeline in Salesflare based on what stage of the sales process you’re at.

As they move through your pipeline, Salesflare even automatically reminds you when to follow up. ✨

Easy peasy 😄

Ready to set your cold email sequences up with the right tool as well? Give Salesflare a try.

Or get on YouTube and check out how our customers are automating their emails.

Any questions? Just ask us on the chat on the website!

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Keri Byrne