Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers.
If you work in sales, you’ve no doubt heard that before. Even if you don’t work in sales, you’re probably at least familiar with the expression. It’s become part of the vernacular in virtually every industry.
The line comes from Glengarry Glen Ross, written by American playwright David Mamet. To be technical, the line was added for the film version of 1992, while the original play received rave reviews and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
Both the stage and screen versions are a masterclass in sharp dialogue, riveting characters, conflict, and storytelling.
And, as it turns out, cold emailing.
The story follows four salesmen in Chicago over the course of two days as they attempt to sell worthless real estate and keep their jobs. They must approach ice cold leads and convince them to spend thousands of dollars on undesirable parcels of land.
While they may not use email in their efforts – it was written in the early 80s after all – cold emailing is the cold calling of the 21st century. And as such, we can learn a great deal from the characters on how to make cold emailing that much more powerful and effective.
Don’t Bet Against Email
“I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion: if everyone thinks one thing, then I say, bet the other way.” ~Ricky Roma
Email – and especially cold email – doesn’t get the attention and love it used to receive. Many are turning away from it for more modern options like social media and influencer marketing.
But email is far from dead, and it can be your most lucrative channel when done correctly. Consider the numbers:
- Roughly 269 billion email messages are sent each day.
- Approximately half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people – use email in 2017.
- 90.92% of American adults use email, while only 70.55% use social media.
- The average click-through rate for emails sent in North America is a healthy 3.1%, while the average open rate is 34.1%.
You’ve got a massive potential audience – far bigger than any single social media platform – and dozens of tools and services to make your (cold) email marketing bigger, better, and faster. I myself can help you find anyone’s corporate email address. Try for yourself and get 50 free leads. With my compliments.
Bet against email moving forward? I should think not.
Always Be Closing
“Because only one thing counts in this life! Get them to sign on the line which is dotted!… A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. Always be closing!” ~Blake
One email. One call-to-action. One goal.
Long gone are the days of the hard sell, though. Pushy and aggressive pitches will get you absolutely nowhere with modern consumers. If you try to sell them on first contact, you’ll watch your leads fade away each and every time.
But you should still be “closing” in your cold emails.
“Closing” is the conversion, whatever it is. Sign up. Download. Subscribe. Follow. Like. Use. Share. Everything you do should be gently nudging leads and prospects towards that one goal.
With each cold email campaign, you need to identify the one thing you want your recipients to do. Then, provide them with whatever they need to do it, like a little social proof or the main benefit to them.
Simply want to establish a connection? Don’t ask them for a thing. Give them something valuable – a link, a template, a white paper – without asking for or expecting anything in return. Do that, and cold leads will not only remember you, but they’ll feel very positive towards you and indebted to you.
That’s the conversion. That’s the close. Most people will then feel compelled to return the favor down the road. Reciprocity is a powerful close. It’s even one of Robert Cialdini’s celebrated six weapons of influence.
A-B-C. Always be closing. And make that close – your CTA – crystal clear and easy for them to accomplish.
Know the Shot
“You want to learn the first rule? You’d know if you ever spent a day in your life: you never open your mouth until you know what the shot is.” ~Ricky Roma
Cold leads don’t have to be ice cold. With a little effort, you can warm them up even if only slightly.
Take the time to know as much as possible about your cold leads before sending them a cold email. Find out as much as you can about their business, location, industry, persona, needs, wants, interests, fears, desires, and concerns.
Where? It’s relatively easy in 2017. Check out their website or blog. Follow them on social media (as an added bonus, your name might be at least somewhat familiar to them when they see that first cold email). Read industry publications. Find the company profile and/or investor reports.
The data is out there free for the taking. Find it, and include at least a few personal snippets in each cold message you send. Personalized emails are by default warmer emails, leading to higher opens, clicks, and conversions.
Cold emailing – like cold calling – used to be a numbers game. Send thousands and hope that a tiny percentage take the bait. To be blunt, that’s a fool’s errand. They won’t. Not today.
Personalization beats volume every time. Know the shot.
Relationships – Not Pitches – Make Sales
No single quote here.
The entire scene between salesman Ricky and James (watch it here and here) demonstrates the idea that relationships make sales. In a Chinese restaurant over drinks, Ricky goes from complete stranger to trusted friend in less than an hour. And James is more than willing to buy property from a trusted friend.
The same goes for cold email. No one is interested in handing money or confidential details over to a stranger. So don’t ask. Instead, create and cultivate a relationship.
Take the time to understand your target. Get to know them. Speak to their needs and fears. Establish trust and a relationship before blindly pitching or asking them to commit to something big.
Connect with and help them. Offer value for free. Ask for nothing…at first.
Ricky plays the long game with James (his pitch comes at the end), and so should you with your cold email list. Ultimately, it’s easier to get one person you’ve connected with to spend $1000 than 10 people you barely know to spend $100 each.
Relationship first. Sell second.
Have a Formula
“A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention — do I have your attention? Interest — are you interested? I know you are, ’cause it’s —- or walk. You close, or you hit the bricks! Decision — have you made your decision for Christ?! And action. A-I-D-A.” ~Blake
A lot of great copywriters and salespeople have played the game before you. And they’ve tried out dozens if not hundreds of tactics, formulas, and formats to get their point across and get the sale.
Classic structures are classic for a reason. In Glengarry Glen Ross, it’s the AIDA formula. That isn’t necessarily the right one for you, your product, and your cold email list, but it’s not a bad place to start. There are others. Play around. Test, test, test.
Land on the one that works best for your situation, and then run with it. A well-crafted cold email will always be better than a lazy warm one.
Be Honest. Be Sincere.
“The truth. Always tell the truth. It’s the easiest thing to remember.” ~Ricky Roma
Pretty simple, really. But no less true. Tell the truth. A lie or exaggeration may land you a few quick conversions, but it will always – always! – catch up with you eventually. Your reputation can be destroyed with a few angry tweets from misled customers. It can happen in the blink of an eye.
Sincerity and truth are crucial. Savvy consumers have nearly infinite choices. Lie to them, stretch the truth, and they’ll not only leave you, but they’ll tell everyone within their social media circle, and those people will share with their circle, and those people will share with theirs, and on and on. The internet never forgets.
Insincerity and dishonesty will never get you ahead for long. Be honest, be real, be human. That’s what people want in their business relationships. The truth is the easiest thing to remember.
No One to Blame But Yourself
“The leads are weak? You’re weak!” ~Blake
A carpenter never blames her tools. Likewise, a good salesman or marketer should never blame the leads. It’s not their job to convert. It’s your job to persuade them. If they don’t buy, download, share, or subscribe, it’s your fault.
Cold emails are, by definition, weak leads.
It’s up to you to roll up your sleeves, do some homework, and warm them up. Research. Analyze. Connect. Engage. If you believe cold email is as easy as getting a name and email address, you’ve not only lost the battle, you’ve forfeited the war.
A “bad” cold lead shouldn’t have made it past the first round of qualifying your list. Purge them with impunity. A “bad” lead is bad prep on your part. “Good” leads are identified and cultivated.
Work with what you’re given. Pinpoint the warmer cold leads, and dismiss those that are solid blocks of ice…they’re not worth your time.
Selling – converting, convincing, or whatever else you want to call it – is hard. Over time, the rules have evolved, but not outright changed. Cold calling and cold email have more in common than might appear at first glance.
Cold emails can work. Go earn your coffee.
Do you use cold email as part of your digital strategy? What tips can you share? Leave your comments below: