B2B Cold Email Sequences for Lead Generation

First, a confession.
I never thought I would use cold email for lead generation.

But I did, slowly and reluctantly, and in the first-year generated revenue well into six figures from those cold email leads for an out-of-pocket cost of less than $2,500.

I’m going to share with you the top lessons I learned. Hope they help you improve your cold email marketing.

Table of Contents

Key B2B Email prospecting strategies rarely spoken of

  • Different prospects are in different stages
  • Expect to integrate different tools into your process
  • You get more email response by not asking for a discovery call
  • Acknowledging that “we may not be a fit” increases your response
  • To avoid catastrophe, a couple of things you need to know, and do

Then I’ll share

  • B2B cold email template structure. I believe in.
  • Some subject line tips
  • Why I put no links in the cold emails
  • The ask that worked
  •  Reasonable expectations

Cold email prospects are in difference stages of their journey

Some B2B cold email recipients will be in active buy mode. But many more will be in a “not immediately, but it’s on my radar” stage.

Most of the clients and revenue are in the “it’s on my radar” stage. What that means is that you must play a long email marketing game. Aim to interact with people when they are in the early stages of moving forward and following up. That means not pushing for an immediate meeting and purchase decision.

Tools to maximize conversion of cold email leads

Most of your targets won’t know you. Once you get a reply, mail them something. In my case, I would promptly ship with my compliments a copy of the Sell the Meeting book.

I have clients that send out “shock and awe” packages or a few books on the topic that would truly help the prospect.

Basic sales is that it takes time to build a relationship. Multiple interactions from different directions over time build the trust and confidence that leads to ideal clients. Mail, phone interactions, good content and consistent touches help to close cold email leads.

You get more response by not asking for a discovery call in your cold emails

This is counter-intuitive and why you must be ready for the long-game when cold email prospecting B2B. Common sense tells us it is highly unlikely that our cold email will reach someone at the exact time they are ready to buy.

It is far more likely that you reach people in the “thinking about it stage.” You need to enable these sales prospects to feel comfortable “raising their hands” to you. When they do, your other marketing tools kick in to further the relationship.

In my case, I asked, “Is this worth a chat?” My ask was for a softer interaction.

Your cold email recipients may not be a fit with you. Why not say that?

Counter-intuitive cold email marketing tip

Most of those you interact with, that are going to buy from somebody eventually, are not ready to buy right now. If they are going to respond, those suspects must feel comfortable doing so. If they believe that raising their hand will result in overwhelming sales messages or being pressured into a discovery call, or if they fear that you may be inexperienced or a time-waster, they will choose not to participate.

I would confidently state, “We may not be a fit.” That’s OK. Willing to spend some time to find out.” I’m convinced that tone raised the email response rate.

To avoid cold email catastrophe, there are a couple of things you need to know and do.

  1. Not a good idea to use your website domain for cold emailing. If your website is BuyFromMe.com it is risky to use DesperateDan@BuyFromMe.com as your cold email send address. Use Dan@buyfromme.email or dan@buyfromme-email.com. Ignore this advice at your peril.

  2. Ensure that you have your spf, dkim, and dmarc settings in order to authenticate and deliver your emails at the highest rate. Easy to do and critically important. If you are using an agency for cold emailing and this has not been done, I would fire their ass immediately, as they either don’t know or don’t care (thinking you won’t know) about maximizing your cold email prospecting success.

  3. Highly recommend that you use cold email software built specifically for cold email marketing lead generation. I have used Outreach, Persistiq and currently use Quickmail. I have had clients use Woodpecker with success.


Cold Email template structure example I believe in

Be crystal clear about what you do, right up front. Provide a succinct statement that readers can absorb with a glance.

Credibility. Mention something that shows that you may be worth some time. Drop client names, # of clients serviced, volumes processed, results obtained, that your grandmother thinks you are great. Something.

Why are you chosen? Slide into why clients pick you. Mention two or three benefits quickly.

The above will be two or three brief paragraphs, only 6–9 lines max. The top half of your email and the subject line will change email to email in your sequence.

But the rest of your email, the bottom half, will remain fairly constant among all emails in your sequence.

State the reason you contacted them. For me, it was due to identifying keywords through advanced LinkedIn sales navigator searches, as well as noting their titles. I have also referenced that they advertised for SDR/BDR’s with success.

Email line I liked

The line I liked went something like this: “Saw your position, insert title, and thought it worth a shot that you or someone at BuyFromUs Technologies might be open to reviewing X.”

Then acknowledge you may not be a fit. I might simply ask, “Is this worth a chat” or “a conversation (assessment maybe?) may not uncover anything worth changing, but willing to find out.”

Add a PS with a direct phone number.

Some b2b cold email subject line tips

Here are some of the subject lines that worked for me:

  • B2B Phone Scripts & Appointment Setting
  • B2B Appointment Setting / Discovery Calls – Not Rocket Science
  • Discovery call scripts for new BDR/SDR’s
  • Your “exchange” for a discovery call


Brief direct statements that signal what you are about. No hype. No big promises. You are seeking to interact with buyers, arouse their curiosity with your subject line. Ignore what non-buyers might think.

Links in your B2B cold emails?

I didn’t. Here is why?

First, links can depress deliverability. But the most important reason is that I wanted a response. I wanted someone to read the email and, based upon that alone, feel comfortable responding. The reality is that someone may very well go to Linkedin or open your website, but I wouldn’t encourage it.

If you send someone to your website with the expectation that they will bop around and be impressed, you are dreaming. More likely they will get distracted and not reply to your email.

Cold Email “ask” that worked

For me it was “Is this worth a chat?” combined with “Process or timing may not be a fit, but willing to find out.” Lighter asks get more response.

Reasonable expectations

Every marketing tactic you might use works well in a certain way. With cold emailing, it is a way for you to interact cost-effectively with those you would never reach with a call. In my case, my ROI on money and time invested was fantastic, but the overall response rates were low. Let’s look at some other metrics.

I ended up getting 26 clients from that first year. The revenue was well into six figures.

Four accounts generated 65% of the revenue. One account generated 27% of the revenue. The 80/20 rule will apply to the results of your cold email campaign.

That largest account came in at the end of the year. They had received my 7-part email sequence 3X over the course of the year. The CEO responded to the email. We had a brief conversation, then one long conversation in which I related a verbal proposal. The CEO accepted it on the spot and within a week I was retained.

Consistent messaging over a period of time and my book and content pre-sold that account before they contacted me. I didn’t sell it as much as I did not screw it up.

The 2nd largest came mid-way through the year and started with a back-and-forth email exchange before a conversation was setup.

My email response to the close ratio was about 18 responses to get one new account. I thought that the conversion rate was low, but that is what it was.

I paid little attention to email open rates; I focused on responses and inquiries only. Email open rates are notoriously unreliable and have become more of a vanity metric with less and less relationship to actual sales results.

Cold emailing to prospects you would otherwise not reach might fit into your overall plan.

If you are thinking of cold emailing, have a strategy, test, think long term and do it right.