One thing almost every founder I meet with these days has figured out is that outbound email campaigns workBut not always at first, not always the same way.

It took me a while to figure it out, too.  In my first start-up, I cold emailed the VP of Engineering of a Fortune 100 company.  He called me back the next day.  I thought I was a genius!  My second cold email, I got a Top 3 prospect to call me back in 24 hours!

Well, later I learned why.  He was running a $500m+ initiative, and a critical vendor who was our competitor was failing.  They were 18 months behind, and they’d just increased pricing 30%.  He was desperate for another vendor.  And I emailed him at just the right time.  With just the right, crisp, clear message.  Personalized to him (I spent hours working on the email) and his exact needs and problems.

60 days later, we were in a paid pilot.

I had a similar experience a few years later speaking at Dreamforce.  On my panel was the VP of Sales at Successfactors.  He told me loved Adobe Sign / EchoSign.  I asked him how why he started using us.  He said, well, he was about the throw the fax machine out the window the last week of the quarter, when he got an email from us about switching to e-signatures.  The timing and value prop were perfect.  He signed up that week.

Most founders will tell you similar stories.  Yes, spam doesn’t work anymore, at least not in B2B.  Purchased lists have little-to-no ROI.   And “growth hacking” may have reached its limits.

But once you figure it out, email almost always works.  Why?

Well, email is special:

  • It is open, and
  • Almost everyone in business checks it multiple times a day. And importantly,
  • Senior folks are super-engaged with their inbox. They do less work themselves, and spend more time monitoring what their team is doing. Sometimes, senior execs do little more in a crowded day than attend meetings — and monitor their inboxes.

This is a gift. No matter how many emails a prospect is sent, they have to keep checking their inbox.

But yes, the number of outbound prospecting emails continues to grow dramatically.  Maybe 100x more than 5 years ago, who knows.

So the key is to make that email, every character, including every single space in that subject line, just amazingMake it solve that exec’s top problem. Uniquely and today.

If you do that, you’ll get a response. She’s checking email, after all.

Just make it truly great. Truly great. Not just a random cadence you send to 100s or 1000s.

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)

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