How To Get 100% Replies From Cold Emails


Hope you’re well.

A 100% response rate from cold emails is really possible. But only if you take a member of the recipient’s family hostage. And even then you’re banking on snatching the right family member.

But it’s more than possible to increase your response rate from the industry average 27%.

Have your cold emails dropped a degree or two recently?

Are you constantly looking for new ways to turn heads and win business?

Of course you are. Because the first rhetorical question’s nebulous enough to pique your interest and the second one’s easy to agree with.

Structuring messages to achieve outcomes isn’t new. And in this context, a hot candidate’s someone that all you have to do is write “WANT JOB?” and then your phone number.

And it works. BDing a desperate client is the same, just replace JOB with STAFF and you’re golden.

For anyone that isn’t “actively looking”, you might choose to invest more time in your approach. This doesn’t just involve creeping through their social media looking for clues to build rapport on.

Keep it simple and experiment with a messaging structure instead of chilly templates.


The C-suite

As a rule, it’s important to be concise. CXOs are in it for their decision making and don’t need tonnes of background.

They spend little time with vendors and all their time with confidants and key contacts in management. The first step for you is a face to face, which should be the goal of an initial approach.

James Harris, CEO of C-suite marketing company Seraph Science, advises selling in reverse order and approaching the pitch with honesty and objectivity. Questions to answer are:

1. Do they trust you?

2. What’s the business case?

3. What are the benefits?

4. What do you do?

Harris also outlines a messaging structure that works: SCQA.

1. Situation – a statement the reader will agree with

2. Complication – an event, finding or trend that’s creating tension

3. Question – should be on the tip of their tongue

4. Answer – provide an answer and a call to action

So if you combine the two, you have:

1. A statement that builds trust

2. A complicating factor that links your business case

3. A string of benefits to build into a question

4. An answer to their problems (you) and a request

You won’t need more than a sentence on each. Headline info only. Close asking for a meeting.


Internal recruiters

Again, concise messages are important. A well crafted note is likely to be met more favourably than another anonymous number calling.

Use the SCQA structure, and sell in reverse, but remember most of these guys started agency-side. Which means both their propensity for sniffing out bullshit and eye for detail will be just as good as yours.

Situation: an agreeable statement that builds trust will need to come from a place of genuine sincerity, and should be slightly more nuanced than “Cor, finding the right people’s hard innit?”

Complication: internal teams and RPO recruiters value candidate and hiring manager satisfaction and are targeted on Time to Hire/Start metrics; these are their pain points and linking to your business case should look to address them.

Question: internal teams have heard every USP there is, so sack off anything generic or vague and think how you’d explain the uniqueness of your service to someone that’s already been there and done it.

Answer: asking for a fifteen minute intro with someone who’s got 50+ reqs on might be what consigns your message to the bin. And shopping in “perfect” candidates usually means they’re on the radar already.

Internal teams know their market, company and processes extremely well. The latter’s usually documented and unlocks a fuller understanding on how to do business with that client in the future. If you ask nicely.

Follow the same structure as C-suite messages, and a similar length as well, but you can afford to paint more of a picture here.

For more detail on the subject, read The Secret To Working With RPOs (6 minute read).


Solid gold candidates

Reversing the order of your sales pitch using the SCQA structure can be applied to decision makers at varying levels of seniority within a business and is ripe for experimentation.

Candidates, however, are another matter.

I’m convinced all you need to turn the head of a walking placement is to behave differently than most recruiters. There’s obviously more to wrangling talent than that, but ‘different’ stands a better chance of a response over ‘ordinary’ any day of the week.

Even opening with “I came across your profile online…”, however true, can flag a message as not worth reading. Simply because it’s been used a thousand times before.

How you pitch to candidates will largely depend on them. So it’s probably easier to structure a message by being aware of things to avoid, rather than add. To that end, this is what candidates want:

– Don’t worry about coming across as super agreeable and trustworthy right away. Building trust’s a long game.

– Don’t complicate your message by trying to appear more knowledgeable than you are. Knowing the market and knowing the industry are very different things.

– If you’ve got a job in mind, most candidates will want to know who your client is. If you can’t name them right away, tell their story instead.

– Don’t make them do the work for you. Asking for referrals is better reserved for a later step in the candidate journey.

prohax remote work

If you’re really looking for an edge, our Productivity Hacks: Email Special has tools to write better emails, track open and reply rates, and schedule follow ups.

Your subject line is the first time your reader will make a decision about your message. Keep message subjects short, clear and not off putting.

Also be mindful that most services show the first 50 to 100 characters of a message prior to it being opened. As with subject lines, these shouldn’t make opening your message less appealing than a frontal lobotomy.

And at the other end, I quite like signing off messages with “best”. Not because I wish my reader the best or anything.

But because I am the best. And I like that to accompany my name at the bottom of my emails.

Do let me know if you have any joy with structuring emails.