The 5 Cs of Cold Email Prospecting

A cartoon of emails flying out of a laptop all over the world

Reminders, notifications, and pings for attention are deeply-rooted in today’s world.

In response, professionals have adjusted how they process and prioritize information to thrive in a digital environment of high-volume, high-velocity communications.

While email is often a primary tool for organizations, it’s also one of the busiest, most overcrowded channels for salespeople and buyers.

Email is unique compared to other sales channels because of it’s low barrier-to-entry. Any person can find a buyer’s email, create a message, and send it out to compete for their time.

Despite these challenges, booked meetings and conversations are created every day by sales & marketing teams who use email for cold prospecting.


The key behind cold email is the same for any other sales channel: create a journey to influence the right people with relevant outreach that catalyzes realizations and motivates action.

Here are 5 critical best practices (The 5 Cs) to help shed light on how to make cold email prospecting successful in such a highly-competitive environment.

1) Context

Cold outreach from strangers is usually an awkward experience for buyers on any channel.

However, buyers react and respond to sales touches differently depending on the channel.

For a digital channel like email, it’s much easier to ignore notifications, filter information, and minimize the amount of time spent on each message.

To stick out of an inbox, your emails need to immediately create an element of relevance and make the argument for why you’ve earned a buyer’s time.

Before a buyer reads your email, they first have to identify your message among others as relevant enough to open and evaluate further.

From there, your email must convince the buyer to set aside the time to actually prioritize your email, review it, and consider next steps.

A cold email is unlikely to ever pass these 2 tests if it can’t quickly convey the topic, why the salesperson is reaching out, and why it should matter to the buyer.

The faster you can become relevant in the inbox, the greater chance you have to motivate buyers to engage with your brand.

2) Characterization

Positioning is everything in sales.

How do you describe your buyers and their problems?

What stories and situations do you use to characterize your solution?

The impact of a sales touch will depend on how you position your messaging to align with the specific people you’re targeting.

For example, a data-driven decision-maker would react to the same email differently than a prospect in an operations-focused or creative-focused role.

Without the ability to accurately characterize problems, situations, and solutions for a buyer, salespeople risk losing credibility and diminishing trust in your brand with every sales touch.

To resonate with buyers and influence thinking, your cold emails should be carefully designed with specific language, industry terminology, and relatable stories that align with your prospects.

Copywriting skills help reps personalize their outreach to different personas and tailor their sales process to the unique situations their buyers often face.

3) Clarity

As a seller, you have limited, uncontrollable windows of time to gain attention from buyers.

Even if a decision-maker finds your email relevant, they still have to understand your vision and next steps before they’ll be comfortable taking action.

Unfortunately, sales emails are often packed with too many topics, too much information, and ambiguous messaging that can become obstacles to a sales conversation.

With too many variables and ideas to consider in a message, it’s easy for buyers to get confused, lost, or overwhelmed into complete inaction.

It’s critical to be as concise and clear as possible in your sales touches.

Rather than highlighting multiple problems or benefits, try laser-focusing each email on one topic and painting a compelling picture about why it matters.

This not only makes it easier to understand your message, but it also reduces the amount of time that it takes for buyers to take action.

4) Consistency

Every sales touch in a cadence should work together to create the compelling argument for why buyers should give your brand the time of day.

The moment you show up on a buyer’s radar, they instantly form an impression of you and continuously update their expectations as the relationship progresses.

If a salesperson reveals contradiction, hypocrisy, or obliviousness in their outreach, then it’s unlikely that a buyer will feel ever comfortable trusting your brand.

Instead, inconsistent messaging can leave prospects feeling skeptical of your brand’s ability to help improve their situation.

Incorrect assumptions, irrelevant information, or incorrect statements are potential landmines that can throw buyers off of the path to a conversation and onto the path of caution.

To maximize your chances of leaving a good impression on every buyer, strive to stay consistent with messaging throughout your cadence.

5) Choice

Time spent with a salesperson is often a burden to buyers, especially when the relationship is plagued by manipulation and desperation for a commission.

With limited time, buyers have to be very picky about when and why they give attention to salespeople or engage in a sales process.

Even if a sales conversation is relevant, buyers often won’t take action if the choices are too limited or next steps seem too complicated.

How can a salesperson motivate more buyers to take action on next steps?

Freedom of choice!

Buyers respect salespeople who respect their time and acknowledge their freedom to make choices that best suit their situation.

The illusion of choice can help maximize the number of buyers who interact with your emails or follow-through to respond.

Instead of always asking for a 15-minute call or a consultation, try mixing up your Call-to-Actions (CTAs) so that buyers have more choices to take in engaging with your brand.


Today’s business world brings lightning-fast communications at a speed and volume that is overwhelming for most professionals.

To adapt to this new environment, buyers have changed the way they process information and prioritize their communications.

So many opportunities exist for sales teams to influence buyers on a digital channel like email, but it’s important to recognize how overcrowded and competitive the channel has become.

With these cold email best practices, salespeople can stand out from the crowd, create compelling journeys for their buyers in the inbox, and set the stage for a future conversation.