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9 business development cold email templates (and why they work)

9 business development cold email templates (and why they work)

11
min read

The average person receives over 100 emails per day.

Guess how many of those are marked as read or archived without ever being opened…or end up taking the express train straight to the spam folder?

It’s more than you’d hope, especially when you’re investing time and effort into your cold outreach for business development.

With so many emails being sent and received every day, yours needs a great subject line and a well-crafted message in order to reach your recipient and make an impact. 

Fortunately, effective B2B sales emails have common elements that can help increase open and response rates, so you reach more contacts and close more deals.

The following 9 cold outreach templates will help you get started with writing your own personalized emails for business development outreach. We’ll also go a step further and explain why each template works so you can continue creating personalized emails and applying these lessons to all of your B2B cold outreach.

9 cold email templates 

Each of these cold email templates highlights a different tactic for grabbing your recipient’s attention and engaging them with your business.

While most templates offer options to insert variables and personalize your message, you’ll be most successful if you can understand how each tactic works and use them to write your own unique message.

Not only will this save you from the embarrassment of potentially sending the same message as your competitor, but it adds your own voice and tone to your cold email, so your contact understands what your brand is all about.

1. The “ask for an introduction” template

Subject line: Can you direct me to the [marketing director/specific position]? 

Hi [first name], 

My name is [first name], and I work at [company name]. We work with companies to [main benefit]. 

I have a quick question: Could you put me in touch with [name of the decision-maker or specific position]?

We managed to [social proof] for [a different company] recently. We think we can achieve the same result with [their company]. 

Thank you, 

[your name]

You should use this template when you don’t have access to the decision-maker. 

This is common when you’re trying to reach somebody at a higher level within the company. It’s no mistake that you weren’t able to find your prospect’s email address online – it’s by design. 

High-level executives and stakeholders usually get buried under an avalanche of emails if they make their addresses public. That’s why they put a hurdle in your way – most often, overcoming this hurdle means making a connection. This could be through a mutual connection you may have or an employee who decides if they will forward your email to the decision-makers or not. 

No wonder this email is also often called the “gatekeeper email.”

So if you wish to get through the gates, your email needs to follow certain guidelines: 

  • Starts with an intriguing, personalized subject line
  • Mentions the decision-maker by name
  • Offers social proof of your company’s credentials

2. The CBTH email template

Subject line: [The prospect’s pain points]

Hi [first name],

I know you’re super busy doing an epic job [specific thing you’ve noticed they do well], so I’ll make this quick. 

At [company name], we have great [product/service/customer support] that can help you solve [pain point]. We’d like to [an example of how you can help].

Are you available later this week to speak on the phone for 15 minutes? We’d love to see if we can help you guys!

Thanks, 

[your name]

This email is called the Compliment - Benefit - Time - Help email. 

With the CBTH cold email tactic, your opening line begins with a compliment that achieves three things: 

  1. Shows respect
  2. Proves you’ve done your research
  3. Complimenting somebody never hurts

Afterward, immediately explain how your product or service can benefit their business. 

Finally, tell them how much time they’ll need to learn about your company. “I’d love to set a meeting with you” can be too vague. How long will the meeting last? 

Most people are willing to spare 15 minutes for a meeting that might benefit their business. 

Using simple language helps the reader immediately understand what you’re offering, no matter how complex your product or service is.

Here’s a real-world example of what the template looks like in action: 

Source

This is a perfect example of the CBTH email. The sender doesn’t offer one compliment – they offer two. They’ve used the prospect’s product and even read their book. 

A great start. 

They ask for five minutes to pick the prospect’s brain and immediately point out that they have some data that the prospect might find helpful.

To finish it off, they ask for a meeting and reiterate that it won’t take more than five minutes. 

3. The AIDA sales email template

Subject line: Why [your company name]?

Hi [first name], 

Our [company product/service] can help you solve [pain point]. 

How?

Within one year, we helped [company name] achieve a [x%] increase/improvement in [KPI] after implementing our [company product/service].

Beyond helping improve [KPI], [company product/service] also helped improve [additional benefits] by [% of improvement]. 

I’d love the chance to explain how [company product/service] can help improve your [KPI]. 

Do you have time on [day of the week] around [hour]? I’d love to get 15 minutes of your time.

Best, 

[your name]

AIDA stands for Attention – Interest – Desire – Action.

With the first line, you mention their pain point. That indicates research and an understanding of their business.

Next, capture their interest with social proof to drive home the benefits you’re offering. 

You should choose the example of the company you use as social proof carefully. It has to be a business the prospect is familiar with or one that operates in the same industry. 

You get bonus points if the company is the recipient’s competitor. 

But to get to the Desire phase, you need to provide additional proof of your ability to deliver results. So you expand on the original social proof to make the benefits impossible to ignore.

Last, you add the CTA. It has to be specific because you want the prospect to know exactly what the next step looks like. 

Let’s take a look at the AIDA email in the real world, shall we?

Source

In this example, the sender chooses to get the prospect’s attention a little differently – first, they show that they did research on the prospect by mentioning their Twitter activity. 

They then mention their earlier success to capture the reader’s interest. Of course, we’d recommend offering quantifiable measures of success or more specifics so the recipient knows what problem you’re solving. 

Next, they follow this up by name-dropping a couple of partners the prospect is likely to recognize, turning their interest into desire. 

Finally, they explain exactly what they want from the prospect and ask for a meeting. 

4. The PAS email template

Subject line: Experiencing [pain point]? 

Hi [first name],

I’ve noticed that your company is experiencing some [pain point].

There’s nothing worse than [insert consequences of pain point]. 

Our [company product/service] is designed to [insert product/service benefit].

I’d love to tell you more about how [company product/service] can help you with [pain point]. Do you have 15 minutes to talk this week? 

[insert a link to schedule a phone call]

Thank you for your time. 

[your name]

The PAS email template stands for the Problem – Agitation – Solution.

First, you point out the problem, and then you agitate it with the consequences. 

To use the PAS model correctly, you must do the necessary research to understand and agitate the problem properly.

For example: 

  1. Problem: The company doesn’t use automation in its sales process. Salespeople are forced to spend hours every day writing emails and entering data in their CRM instead of selling. 
  1. Consequences: Sales teams are less efficient and make fewer sales.

Your goal is to create an emotional response to the email copy. The prospect needs to read the first part of the text – the problem and the agitation – and think, “That’s right, we do have this problem.

That’s when you swoop in to offer a potential solution: your product or service. 

And from there, you immediately launch into a CTA. Like with the previous templates, make the next step clear so they understand how they can learn more about your solution.

Here’s an example of an actual PAS email that pulls no punches: 

Source

The sender gets straight to the Problem and Agitation – buying leads and finding out they’re useless. And for anyone who has ever gone through the same process, the agitation is likely to trigger deja vu. 

That’s when they present their company as the solution and offer an easy-to-follow CTA, so the prospect can take the next step right away. 

5. The authority-building email template

Subject line: Want to improve [insert statistic from a case study]?

Hi [first name], 

[Main pain point] can be a headache. It doesn’t help when [further agitate the problem]. 

We get it – that is why we developed [company product/service]. 

[Company name] helps [target audience] improve [target metric]. We’ve helped companies like [insert customer name] reach [insert metric].

I’d be happy to connect to discuss how [company product/service] can help your team solve [pain point]. Do you have fifteen minutes to chat tomorrow or the day after that? 

[include a link to schedule a call]

Thank you for your time, 

[your name]

This cold outreach email template is perfect for when you want to build rapport with a prospect and position yourself as a trustworthy authority on a specific topic. 

That’s why the language in this template is a bit more casual. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need to use big words. 

Include their pain point and show you understand the consequences, then mention your product or service and offer social proof with the value you’ve brought to companies in the past. 

All of it put together creates a specific impression: 

Source

Finally, you should outline the next step and add a clear CTA for the prospect to follow. 

6. The recent event email template

Subject line: Congrats on [event]!

Hi [first name], 

I recently met you at [the event]. It was great to talk to you, and I saw that [insert positive consequences of the event like good reviews]. 

As I mentioned, our [company name] offers [company product/service] that helps our customers deal with [pain point].

I’m sure things are hectic on your end after [event], but I’d love to talk to you about how we can help [main benefit].

Do you have 10 minutes to talk on Friday?

Congrats again, 

[your name]

This email template is a great follow-up after an initial intro at an in-person event. It helps you capitalize on the fact that the prospect is already familiar with you. 

The shared experience can go a long way to make you stand out in their inbox. 

Congratulating them on the event’s success or any positive outcomes they enjoyed is an excellent way to start. Mentioning details from your interaction would be even better. 

Maybe the prospect told you that their favorite team had a big game coming up, or their kid had a talent show the next day. Whatever it is, make a note of it after the conversation and mention it in your email!

Just don’t make the email too sales-y. You’re trying to establish a relationship with the prospect, so briefly include your product or service, mention their pain point, and then include a simple CTA.

7. The straight-to-the-point email template

Subject line: Solve your [pain point].

Hi [first name], 

Is [pain point] ruining your bottom line? 

We’ve helped companies like [customer name] improve [KPI] by [x%] in less than one year. 

Our [company product/service] was created to [one-sentence pitch]. It is easy to manage and implement into your [business process]. 

Do you have time this week to discuss how [company product/service] can help boost your [KPI]? 

Thank you for your time!

[your name]

This template is the no-nonsense version of a business development cold email template. 

There is no fluff. Every word serves a purpose. This can be a good tactic for cold outreach to startup founders or small business owners, who usually don’t have time to read lengthier emails and want the need-to-know information up front.

That’s why you should: 

  1. Immediately hook them with the first sentence
  2. Offer social proof
  3. Make a short pitch
  4. CTA

Nothing extra, nothing fancy. The idea is to leave the prospect thinking, “I want to learn more.”

Check out this perfect example of “brief and to the point”: 

Source

Nathan Berry, the founder of ConvertKit, used this email to target users of Infusionsoft who might be looking for alternatives because he discovered many bloggers using Infusionsoft weren’t very satisfied with its complexity. Using the name of the product they’re already using in the subject line means he immediately gets the recipient’s attention. 

He puts pressure on a pain point – dissatisfaction with Infusionsoft – straightaway, but without being pushy:

  • “How are you liking it?”
  • “It’s just like Infusionsoft, only simpler to use.”

With those two lines alone, he gets the prospect’s interest, provides a solution, and goes straight into arranging a meeting. 

8. The FOMO template

Subject line: Experience the same benefits as [competitor name]

Hi [first name], 

While researching for [competitor’s name], I came across your business. I love how [include personal knowledge of their business practices]. 

However, I suspect you may be struggling with [pain point], and I was wondering if [company department] could benefit from [product/service]?

[Competitor name] needed a way to solve [pain point]. Our [company product/service] helped them [solution you offer]. Since then, they’ve experienced an increase in [KPI]. 

Would you be interested in exploring ways our [company product/service] can help your company?

Best, 

[your name]

This template leverages the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). 

In the first sentence, you immediately name-drop the company’s competitor. It’s guaranteed to hook your prospect. Then you include some personal knowledge to showcase your research and understanding of the industry. 

Then it’s time to get crafty. 

In this template, we used the phrase, “I suspect you may be struggling…”

Now, why did we do that? 

Because the prospect will read it and go through an interesting thought process. It might look something like this: 

  • They suspect? How would they know? 
  • They know because they worked with [the competitor]!

From this point, you drive the thought process further. You mention their company might benefit from your product or service. In the next sentence, you show them how their competitor benefited from it. 

This leaves little doubt that they could benefit from it as well. 

Their thought process continues: 

  • And they’ve solved their problem!
  • That means they’re more competitive than we are!

The only conclusion to this thought process is that the prospect needs to get their hands on your product or service.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to harness the fear of missing out. 

9. The free advice template

Subject line: Want to [goal or solution]?

Hi [first name], 

I’m from [company], and I wanted to reach out because I noticed [problem or pain point]. 

I decided to dig a little deeper, and came up with a solution for you.

After looking at [mention problem or pain point], we compiled [solution/resource: e.g., a list of high-quality leads, 5 keywords to use for SEO, etc.] for you.

[List out solutions if applicable]

There’s more where that came from! I’d love to hop on a call with you to explore how I could continue to help you with [problem and solution]. Are you free sometime next week? You can book a call here: [link to a scheduling platform/calendar].

Best, 

[your name]

This template is an extension of the PAS template. 

You catch the recipient’s attention by mentioning the pain point in the subject line, and you immediately present a solution in the body. But you go beyond saying you have the solution, and you provide them with a taste of what you can do for them – for free.

By sharing something of value without asking for anything in return – except the possibility of a call – you show you’re committed to helping people and not just out to make a quick buck.

A tactic that’s bound to start your relationship on the right foot.

How to design your own business development email templates 

Before sharing these templates, we mentioned that you don’t want to use the exact same cold emails other companies do. 

The idea is to use the templates we’ve covered as a starting point, then personalize them to your company, audience, and industry. 

To make sure you are creating effective email templates, follow these five steps:

1. Conduct audience research and analysis

The first part of crafting a business development cold email campaign is to conduct audience research and analysis.

Channel your inner sleuth to learn about the company and its decision-makers as much as possible. 

You can check out their: 

  • Social media profiles (e.g., LinkedIn)
  • Interviews
  • Articles

You can learn a lot about their pain points and their successes from these resources. Any specific information about recent events, acquisitions, thought pieces, or product launches can go a long way to improve the quality of your business development cold email.

Researching your audience can also give you a sense of the prospect’s character. Based on that information, you can decide if you should use a no-nonsense tone or if you can afford to make a joke. 

This type of data can help you craft customer personas. You can base them on: 

  1. Location
  2. Career history
  3. Current job title
  4. Size or stage of their company
  5. Industry
  6. Values, goals, and challenges

You can then segment your email list using this information. That means placing each prospect into a category to ensure you deliver content that’s relevant to them. 

Let’s say you’ve delivered great results for a medium-sized business in the service industry. You can look up all of your leads within the same industry and business size, group them, and know you have to use the FOMO template for all of them. 

You can also use your CRM to make note of more personal information about decision makers, like their favorite sports team, hobbies, or opinions on a recent industry event. Tidbits like this are great for breaking the ice and making a more personal connection in your cold email outreach.

2. Map the journey

Even the best cold email, when sent on its own, can only accomplish so much. A prospect won’t turn into a loyal customer in the time it takes them to read eight sentences. 

You need an effective cold email sequence to accomplish that. 

So let’s say that you can create a sequence of five emails: 

  1. First cold email
  2. Follow-up
  3. Value bringer #1
  4. Value bringer #2
  5. Break-up email

Utilize one of the templates mentioned above for the first cold email. Introduce yourself, showcase your knowledge of their business, and invite them to schedule a meeting. 

Ideally, they will respond, and their journey toward becoming a paying customer begins. 

If not, follow up

In this email, explain additional advantages that you didn’t have the time to mention in the first email. If you have additional social proof or data points, you could also expand on the topics you included in the opening email. 

Once again, include a CTA at the end of the email. 

In the next two follow-up emails, focus exclusively on delivering value to the prospect. You want to educate them about your product or service and make sure they understand how you can help them. That means including things like case studies, success stories, and relevant articles.

If they still haven’t budged, it’s time for the breakup email. Explain that this will be the last email they will receive from you, but briefly reiterate your main selling points.

3. Personalize

Personalization means adding a few words unique to the email recipient – like their name and company – but it goes far beyond that.

That’s not to say that the tactic isn’t effective. Cold emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. 

But more than anything, personalization should show you’ve taken the time to research their company’s pain points, recent events, and current solutions. The time you’ve invested tells the prospect that you consider them a good fit for your product or service and are genuinely interested in building a relationship.

That’s part of the reason why adding multiple personalization fields to an email can improve reply rates by as much as 142%.

Don’t hesitate to include the following tidbits to your cold email templates: 

  • Where you found their company
  • Any solutions and technologies they are using
  • Specifics about their business process
  • Their relevant social media activities
  • Their professional successes

4. Deliver value

Delivering value is the backbone of any business development cold email strategy. Without it, you come off as a snake oil salesman, and no one wants that. 

When you craft your business development cold email templates, make sure to leave some room for: 

  • Case studies
  • Success stories
  • Referrals
  • Testimonials
  • Relevant content that solves their problems

Data shows that these tactics can not only improve your open and response rates, but also affect your bottom line by increasing conversions:

  • Including case studies in your emails can improve the close rate by as much as 70%
  • Mentioning a famous customer can increase conversions by 208%
  • Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews

5. A/B testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing or bucket testing, compares different versions of the same email to determine which one is more effective.

It means splitting your email list into equal parts and sending one version of an email to each segment. In each version, you’ll identify one specific element of the email to change so you can get clear data on what works and what doesn’t. Then you compare the key email tracking metrics that each email achieves. 

You can test elements of a cold email like:

  • Subject line
  • Layout
  • CTA

A/B testing is vital because it takes the guesswork out of the process. You’ll get hard data to see first-hand which tactics work and which tactics you should abandon.

Quality over quantity

When used correctly, business development cold email templates can drastically improve your outreach performance and connect you with the right decision-makers. 

If you really want to get the most out of these templates, you need to choose a quality-over-quantity approach, take your time to research each prospect meticulously, and tailor your emails accordingly. 

With the templates and the tips we’ve outlined above, you’re ready to create cold email templates that’ll take your B2B lead generation efforts and your business to the next level. 

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