Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Sales blogger Heather Morgan recently called out InsightSquared by name for using, in her words, “crappy canned templates” for our cold sales emails.

While that claim may make for a buzzworthy blog post, we respectfully disagree with her. Although Morgan did have some valid critiques of the email an InsightSquared Business Development Rep sent to her company, she may be surprised to learn that same email was incredibly effective.

In fact, it was one of our most successful prospecting emails ever. We received a record number of responses and new leads directly from this email, with the exact copy that Morgan recently tore to shreds.

Why was this email, with all of its flaws, so successful? It’s because the copy of the email is the result of extensive testing and a data-driven sales process.

Get Our Complete Guide to Writing Sales Emails »

Rather than just tell you how awesome this email actually is, I’ve decided to transparently share all of the data with you. You can judge for yourself whether this cold sales email was uninspired and lame, or sneakily brilliant. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

“Have any plans for lunch Wednesday?”

It’s no secret that sales reps today use email templates and automated sends to help make their work prospecting cold accounts more efficient. Having busy sales reps type out emails by hand each time to hundreds of prospects would be a complete waste of time. Instead, reps personalize and customize various email templates that they then send out to prospects. The email in question was a friendly, but casual template that the rep then customized for the prospect. You can read the email and judge for yourself:

IS2Email

This email is intended to open the door to a longer conversation with a prospect. Once a prospect responds, then the rep can start to ask questions about their specific business needs and offer a more tailored solution. While this first message isn’t incredibly specific, we’ve found that a carefully-worded, friendly message works incredibly well for initiating conversations, and so we will keep using it. Whether we’re lazy or innovative really just depends on your perspective.

A 200x Increase in Open Rate

How do we know for sure that this email works so well? That’s where the data comes in. This was the first time we’ve used this exact sales email template, but the results were impressive. In fact, it was hands-down our best-performing sales prospecting email ever.

Here’s the raw data on the email’s open rates, response rates, and more:

ClosedLostEmailData

To give you an idea of how impressive these numbers are, the average open rates for cold emails is between 14% and 23%, according to data from ConstantContact and MailChimp. In fact, his email was about a 200x improvement over InsightSquared’s usual open rate for cold sales emails. While the open rate for the email is impressive, getting 60 unique replies and 48 possible forwards is even more important.

Many of those email responses led to actual business opportunities for InsightSquared. Before the rep sent the email, he had sourced just 1 opportunity so far this month and was concerned about hitting his goals. In the a week and a half since he sent out this email, the rep has sourced 9 opportunities and hit his goals for the month with time to spare.

Now that you’ve seen the numbers, have you changed your mind? It seems pretty clear-cut to us. With such high conversion rates to opportunities, we’re going to keep sending this email to prospects and keep tracking it to see if it continues bringing in new and valuable leads.

Data-Driven Sales Results

InsightSquared is a data-driven company. Everything we do, we test rigorously. We’re always trying to find the best performing email, sales talk track, case study, CTA and more. When you see a company like us taking risks or doing something that seems strange and different, we’re probably doing it on purpose. Some companies have actually found that having a few typos in an email performs better, while others have found that sending emails on weekends results in better response rates. At first glance, these seem like crazy decisions that completely disregard best practices. But when you test it and run the data, these unconventional tactics actually get amazing results.

Without factual analysis to back up your opinions of an email, you can’t really make an informed judgement. Despite everything Morgan disliked about the email, it still drove sales results — and that’s a success in our books.

 

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Showing 6 comments
  • m

    Well, she was pointing out that you sent an email to the wrong person. And she is right.

  • Andrew Archer

    Positively amazing response Ryan! Seriously.

    Let data drive and influence marketing/sales/IT tactics (or any tactic you can measure) – sell smarter. 🙂

  • Heather R Morgan

    Hey guys, I’m glad to hear that you had decent results with this tactic. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t do even better and improve your cold emails more.

    We’re not perfect with our cold outreach all the time—I realize that—even when we try to be effective with targeting, we still screw up sometimes (I’m sure we are guilty of this sometimes too). My whole point of the article is that I think you guys have an amazing company that has amazing business, and you could be writing emails so much more thoughtful and targeted than this.

    I really think you could be getting even better results on your cold emails. I’d love to see you guys have a 60%+ open rate and even better responses (15% perhaps…). If you want to talk about it, you can reach me at heather at salesfolk.

  • Daniel Barber

    Hey Ryan,

    We are huge fans of InsightSquared at ToutApp. I personally pulled the trigger on the relationship and regularly promote InsightSquared to our customers and future customers. After reading Heather’s post, I had to reflect on the content and messaging we use across our Sales team. I too am very passionate about using data to drive decisions, and regularly track the following metrics: open rate, click rate, reply rate, and email to opportunity %.

    We are often driving to create personalization at scale with our sales efforts, and I have to admit the email thread used above does not follow that model. I think what needs to be considered is not the number of replies or opportunities, rather the number of individuals who now have a negative perception of InsightSquared within the 648 emails. I encourage sales leaders to drive conversations with value (i.e. what did you teach the recipient) – this can include articles, blog posts, white papers, etc.

    Moreover, the data sourced by ConstantContact and MailChimp is derived from companies looking to send 1 to many emails via an Email Service Provider, and should not be used as a baseline for B2B Sales. Sending a large set of emails to a broad list of individuals (i.e. 648 recipients) will always drive results, however this is because statistically speaking you have a large enough number that a certain set of individuals will raise their hand. I would encourage you to leverage the enormous volume of third-party content that supports the purchase of InsightSquared. In doing so, you’ll be able to track recipient intent (click rate), and become the education company that you are destined to be.

    I have written a couple of pieces on this topic (http://www1.toutapp.com/blog/sales-3-0-personalization-at-scale/) and would be happy to chat anytime. Feel free to contact me at daniel@toutapp.com

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