Cold emailing can be a lot like dating. You're trying to meet new people, put your best foot forward, and find 'the ones' that will actually turn into new business. To have the best odds of making a strong connection and moving forward, you need to present yourself in the best way possible.

Some of the same behaviors that encourage romance can also improve your sales emails. Let's look at five.

1. Start with an effective opening line.

Everyone knows a cheesy pickup line will fail. So will a lazy email subject line.

Many successful salespeople spend more time on the subject line than the body of an email, because if you don't have a great opening line, you won't get a chance for a second remark.

This is an example of an overly generic and click-baity subject line:

Subject: an offer {!Company} can't refuse

It practically begs you not to take it seriously, and provides no reason to consider opening it. What's it about? Why the cocky tone? Most people won't stick around to find out: Delete.

On the other hand, this subject line actually works:

Subject: how to make {!Company} audit-proof in 2017

The word 'audit' definitely grabs the recipient's attention and throws them off balance, encouraging them to open the message. Put an intelligent, engaging offer inside, and you've got a solid chance of starting a conversation. And that's how a good pickup line should work.

2. Don't talk all about yourself.

What happens if you go on a date and you talk about yourself all night? You don't get a call back.

The same is true with sales. If all your email contains is self-promotional blather, it will be deleted immediately. You're not trying to sell yourself, you're trying to establish a relationship, and determine whether you and your potential customer are right for each other.

Here's a great example of a cold email opener that actually works, because it's focused on the recipient's situation, instead of the sender's identity/offer:

Hi {!First},

Believe it or not, {!City} companies are having trouble finding experienced Java

developers like you.

3. Don't use cheap ploys.

Phoniness and gamesmanship is a major turn off. Don't pretend to be someone or something that you're not.

The worst kind of phoniness is pretending to know someone that you don't know. In dating, it's the "Haven't we met before?" pickup line. And using a fake "Re:" in a subject line is the email equivalent, and can actually red flag mail servers to think your email is spam.

The email below pretends to be part of an ongoing conversation about jobs in the recipient's area, but it isn't really:

Re: Coffee in San Francisco

Faking familiarity is particularly annoying because it insults the reader's intelligence and can even border on creepy. Even if you get your email opened, once the recipient realizes that you've duped them, they're going to be racing to report you as spam. That's not the connection you're trying to make.

4. Avoid trying too hard.

Nothing spoils a date (or an email) more than a lot of hot air followed by a hard sell.

Don't drone on endlessly about how great your product is, or how the world is crying out for what you offer. Don't make incredible promises (even if they are true), because it makes you seem less credible.

Take this subject line for example:

Subject: 14,000% {!Company} sales increase in Q1

Even if this claim is tied to some real results, it's just too much, and strikes the reader as unbelievable. Like a dumbfounded date, the reader is rolling their eyes and thinking, "Is this guy for real?" And that will only get your email deleted, no second date.

5. If you're getting nowhere, back off.

Persistence sometimes pays off, but continuing to send emails to someone who really isn't biting starts to make you look desperate and needy. After a bunch of failed attempts at connecting, it's better to let them know that you're going to move on.

This bit of reverse psychology often converts. HubSpot claims that 'breakup' emails get a 33% better response rate versus Just continuing to plead for an answer. Here's a sample template:

Hi {!First},

I wanted to reach out to you one last time. I still have a few specific ideas on how {!Company} can generate new business without increasing costs, but if I don't hear back from you, I'll assume the timing isn't right.

If the person you're emailing has a problem that you can solve, your breakup email will push them to finally take action and reply.

Have you applied any dating lessons to attract new customers or close deals? I'd love to hear them, and might try to feature them in one of my future stories if you reach out with a good one.

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Published on: Jan 24, 2017