The founder's guide to cold outreach

September 13, 2021

Let's say you've got a new startup. Or you're a salesperson with a new territory, and no one knows who you are yet. Well, if you don't have a multi-million dollar marketing budget to bring prospects to you, you'll need to go to them instead.

That's where cold outreach comes into play. You can't build the same kind of brand awareness that billion-dollar companies do, but you can generate awareness the old-fashioned way: hard work. And that's exactly what cold outreach is all about.

In this Founder's Guide to Cold Outreach, we'll cover how to perform outreach that is efficient, effective, and friendly. That way, you can engage new prospects and open the door to scheduling the sales presentations that will grow your business. Let's get started:

What is Cold Outreach?

When talking about cold outreach, we mean any kind of digital communication between you and a prospect that creates the first contact. And you'll be happy to know that no in-person or offline methods are necessary.

In fact, 70% of B2B decision makers today prefer remote communication anyway. So the key is to use digital platforms like email and social media to achieve several things during your outreach:

  • Make Yourself Known - If you're a small or new company, cold outreach can help you build brand awareness.
  • Make a Good Impression - Leave a mark with your outreach. Demonstrate how you are unique.
  • Encourage Your Prospect to Continue the Conversation - Give them something worth following up on, so you can eventually present more product features.

The Importance of Cold Outreach

So, if there are several ways to get on a customer's radar, what makes cold outreach so special? There are several reasons that cold outreach is advantageous to other outreach methods, such as:

  • It Costs Less - If "free" sounds like a reasonable cost to you, then cold outreach is something you should consider. With nothing more than time, you can do everything in this guide.
  • Anyone Can Do It - You don't need special contacts or skills. Anyone can do cold outreach.
  • You Can Start Right Now - There's nothing stopping you from reading this guide and implementing all the tips right away. Talk about instant results.

Those are just some of the benefits of cold outreach over other sales methods. But you may be wondering about the downside, such as potentially annoying your prospects:

Is Cold Outreach Spam?

Cold outreach is most often done with email, LinkedIn, or other social messaging. And in today's day and age, most of us get more spam than we care to deal with. Like anything else, cold outreach can be spam — if it's done the wrong way. If you send mass messages without changing it, and you don't make it worth your prospect's time.

But in this article, we're focusing on the ways to do it strategically, so that it's well-received by your prospects. With that said, here are 6 cold outreach tips you need to know:

1. Focus on the Prospect

Far too many companies focus on themselves when communicating with prospects. They start their messages off with "my company" or "our product" instead of speaking about the customer. With every cold outreach campaign, keep it focused on the prospect. Talk about their problems, their situation, their recent awards, and anything that makes them the focus. After all, everyone's favorite subject is themselves — your prospects are no different.

2. Stay Professional

It is vital to keep all of your outreach communication professional and friendly. This is not the time to act like your prospect's best friend. While certain levels of rapport and informality are understandable at other sales stages, play it safe for now.

Your prospects are much more likely to take you seriously if you have an officially incorporated company. So that should be the first step. Secondly, make sure your email signature includes all of the necessary contact information, as well as some links to your website so the prospect can conduct further research.

3. Offer Value

What does your product or startup bring to the table that others don't? Ultimately, that is the question you must answer in the mind of your prospect. When conducting cold outreach, aim to provide value right away. This can come in the form of:

  • Information - Tease some important information, such as the state of the industry or a new strategy for unlocking business results.
  • A Free Demo - Offer to show your solution to them free of cost, and with no obligation.
  • Promising a Solution - Be the one salesperson that finally has the solution to your prospects' most pressing challenges.

And much more. Focus on bringing value, and your message is much more likely to get their attention.

4. Personalize

This is an extension of keeping your messages focused on your prospect. But personalization is something that takes, even more, thought and effort. Personalization is much more than mentioning your prospect by name. To personalize your outreach efforts, spend some time researching them beforehand. Even 10 minutes of research can provide you with an idea of their role, affinities, accomplishments, and personal interests. These all create great segues into making it clear that you didn't just copy and paste your outreach.

Personalize every message in your sequence with text replacements
5. Systemize Your Approach

After seeing all the important customization and thinking it takes to do cold outreach, you might be concerned about the time commitment. That's exactly why it's important to systemize your outreach.

Use cold email templates, for instance. These help you create consistently effective outreach without reinventing the wheel. Simply change out a few words such as the prospect's name and company, and you're off to the races.

Choose from our proven templates
6. Automate Cold Outreach with Mailshake

Mailshake is an excellent tool that helps founders scale their cold outreach. It provides an automated way to implement all of the tips above — turning prospects into leads across email and other channels. Mailshake's cold email outreach features include:

  • Lead Catcher - Identify your best leads, most likely to convert based on engagement metrics.
  • Split Testing - Identify which cold outreach emails perform the best by pitting them head to head.
  • Social Outreach - Prospects are everywhere, and Mailshake allows you to reach them with a multi-touch approach.
  • Phone Dialer - Reach out to prospects via phone with one click, thanks to a built in Mailshake dialer.
Dialer in action
  • Campaign Automation - Perform cold outreach at scale with custom campaigns, max deliverability, and follow up sequences proven to convert.
Configure follow-up messages
  • Engagement Tracking - See which prospects open emails and click on links to continue the conversation at exactly the right time.
  • Seamless Integrations - Mailshake syncs with popular CRMs such as Hubspot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive. And using Zapier connects you with over 1,000 additional powerful integrations.
Integrate with hundreds of services


Mailshake works with every popular email provider, enabling your team to streamline cold outreach and focus on higher lever prospecting strategies. Schedule a Mailshake demo today to learn more about maximizing your outreach process.

Final Thoughts

Companies need to get smarter about the ways they are contacting potential customers. The business world has become too crowded otherwise, and you won't stand out. That means you need a proven strategy to perform cold outreach. With cold outreach, you can contact decision-makers, make a great impression, and take them through the next step of your sales funnel. Of course, you shouldn't just jump in and start sending messages. Instead, use the guide above to make sure you're sending the right messages at the right time. That way, you can generate a wealth of new leads and customers for your startup.

Sujan Patel, Founder of Mailshake

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

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