In my previous two posts, "After I Called 911, I Decided to Share This With You" and "Get C-Level Executives on the Phone Using These 6 Steps," I provided background and the theory of personally customizing cold emails for C-level executives.

This post puts those principles into practice with some examples. These are not provided as exact models but rather to expose you to the thought process involved in crafting this type of email.

Note: in all these cases, I've assumed that you've obtained the direct email for the executive in question. If you need it, here is some advice for getting VIP email addresses.

Example 1

  • Your product: a software package designed to analyze and increase the efficiency of the supply chain for widget manufacturers.
  • Your target: Jane Doe, CFO, Acme Widgets
  • Her background: Before becoming CFO at Acme two years ago, Jane held several accounting positions in an unrelated industry, none of which were C-level. (Sources: her bio on the Acme website and her LinkedIn profile.)
  • Her personal life: Jane is in her late thirties (based upon her photo and college attendance dates). She took her undergraduate degree at the University of Baton Rouge and five years later received an MBA at Wharton. She now lives in Detroit (where Acme is headquartered) where she is on the board of directors of a non-profit, the Michigan Autism Alliance. 
  • The corporate situation: In the two years since Jane joined Acme, the company has experienced rapid growth. It was recently acquired by a London-based software conglomerate, which plans to run Acme as a wholly-owned subsidiary. (Source: various Google searches, press releases.)
  • Situational analysis: As the result of the acquisition, the center of power in the company will switch to London. Based on her spouse's job and the likely existence of an autistic child that Jane has "put down roots" in the Detroit area, so she's unlikely to be willing to relocate to London. However, since she's very well-qualified and was present during a period of expansion, the new management may want her to stay on to manage the finances of the wholly-owned subsidiary. If so, Jane's position is still "shaky" since she won't be "where the action is." If not, Jane is actively searching for a new position in the Detroit area.
  • The best cold email play: Offer to connect Jane with a valuable contact in the Detroit area. This will probably work because 1) everyone wants valuable new contacts, 2) Jane is probably networking in preparation for a job switch.

The Email:



I recently met with the CEO of XYZ Widgets, which as you know is also located in the Detroit area.

Based upon the bio on your website, the two of you probably have a lot in common. If you've not already met, would you like me to put the two of you in touch?

John Jones,
Potrezebie Software

The segue: Prior to sending the email to Jane, confirm that your contact is willing to speak with her. When Jane responds in the affirmative to your email, make the connection by emailing your contact and copying Jane. Append that short email (prior to your signature): "Jane, can I ask you a quick question about Acme's supply chain software?"

Example 2

Your product: Corporate Events

Your target: Mike Fisque, Chief Marketing Officer, Afflatus Advertising

His background: Mike has been part of Afflatus since it was formed from the merger of two large ad firms in 2003; prior to that Mike worked in various roles at a large PR firm. (Source: his LinkedIn profile.)

His personal life: Mike has kept his private life pretty much invisible. He graduated from the University of California with an MFA in 1984, so he's probably in his mid-fifties. (Source: LinkedIn). He has spoken at several industry conferences. (Source: Google)

The corporate situation: Afflatus employs 5,000 people and has been nominated for Clio Awards seven times in the past decade. They recently acquired a contract to do creative work for IBM's new corporate branding.

Situational analysis: Mike's conference appearances suggest that he probably thinks of himself as a thought leader. Acquiring IBM as a new customer probably means the company will be expanding, increasing Mike's importance and visibility.

The best cold email play: Ask Mike a question about one of his presentations and then segue the conversation into event planning.

The Email:

SUBJECT: AdBuzz Conference


Is it possible to get a copy of your slides for the presentation you gave at last year's AdBuzz conference?

John Jones,
Potrezebie Events

The segue: If the answer is "NO," then email back why you were interested in the presentation, ideally something that's related to the role event planning plays in advertising campaigns. Then ask if Afflatus holds corporate events and, if so, who is responsible for planning them.

Example 3

Your product: Management Consulting

Your target: Joel Frandia, CEO, Giant Industrial Systems

His background: Joel started as a salesperson and advanced up the ranks of sales management, becoming VP of Sales and then taking over as CEO in 2008. (Source: corporate bio; Joel does not have a LinkedIn profile.)

His personal life: Joel is the part owner of a AA minor league baseball team in the medium-sized Midwestern town where GIS has been headquartered since 1953. He has five children, one of whom works in GIS marketing.

The corporate situation: GIS is a very traditional corporation, somewhat of a dinosaur, if the truth be known. Over the past two decades, they've moved most of their manufacturing overseas although they still manage the corporate locally in the U.S.

Situational analysis: Traditional CEOs in traditional industries are only recently starting to personally read and answer their own emails. They often still have admins who do this for them. Coming in cold with a "I can help you be a better management" pitch might be ham-handed but the indirect approach (asking about the minor league team) is too difficult to segue into the services that you're selling.

The best cold email play: Offer to provide some valuable competitive information which (of course) you'll need to research and create.

The Email:

SUBJECT: Huge Industry Inc.


I've recently been researching your competitor and have prepared a detail report on their overall strategy.

Is this something that might interest you?

John Jones,
Potrezebie Consulting

The segue: In this case, no segue required because you're already having a conversation that falls into your conceptual bailiwick.