A cold email is an email sent to a prospect with whom you have no previous relationship. According to MailChimp, the average open rate for B2B business emails hovers at 21%. With the average cold email open rate being much smaller, it’s safe to say that most cold emails fail. However, although cold emails may come with a healthy dose of rejection, they are still important to a successful sales strategy.

The point of a cold email is to get your foot in the door with a prospect so you can start nurturing a relationship, but you shouldn’t expect immediate conversions. Response rates are generally low, so cold email success often ends up as a numbers game. However, conversions can happen more frequently if you find the right formula — meaning you’ll have to try different templates to see what works for which companies. To do that well, you’ll need to do extensive research; you need to know your prospect inside and out. Before any potential client receives a cold email, you should have researched them first.

Cold emails are made up of five different components.

  • The Subject Line: A compelling, attention-grabbing line that aims to make the prospect open the email.

  • The Hook: The first line of your email; it should be engaging so that the prospect continues reading.

  • The Pitch: The meat of your email, should provide your services offered and their value.

  • The Proof: Proof is important to seem credible. Use articles, case studies, and statistics, etc.

  • The Call to Action (CTA): The final bit of the email, an invitation for a call or meeting. It’s good to suggest a couple times yourself rather than asking what works for them.

Here are a few strategies and templates for you to try out when sending cold emails for sales and business development.

Email Templates

  1. Trade Content

    Demonstrating that you’ve read and thought about their written or visual content is a good way to show that you’re interested in more than their money. Furthermore, you can use their content to invite discussion by offering a response to their article. Then, you can relate that back to your recruiting company and offer a piece of your own content in return. Offering any piece of content can be helpful, but using a piece of content that you’ve personally written says that you are a knowledgeable recruiter.


    Subject: Question Re: [Article]

    Dear [Prospect],

    I recently read your article regarding [Article] and found it to be insightful because [Call attention to a point in the article]. I do have a question regarding what you said about [Point made in article]. [Invite discussion with a question]?

    Over here at [Your company], we're implementing creative solutions to tackling exactly that problem. In fact, we published our own piece [Link] discussing those very solutions. I encourage you to read it over when you have time as I'm sure you'll find it enlightening.

    Let me know what you think!

    [Your name]


  2. List It

    Lists are a great way to convey big ideas in a short, readable format. Moreso, a list acts as the focal point of the email, so it’s easy for the reader to find the pitch. It’s important not to waste words, and lists are one way to achieve that.


    Subject: 3 Important Things [Prospect company] Should Know

    Dear [Prospect],

    I’ve been closely following [Prospect business] and I think you should know three important things.

    1. We specialize in placing top tier [Specific type of candidate] for companies working in [Specific company industry].
    2. I have five candidates who would be perfect for your [Specific job order] position.
    3. Our clients can confirm that Atomic Search Solutions is one of the top recruiting agencies in the metro area. Take a look at what they have to say here [Link].


    How does [Date] at [Time] or [Date] at [Time] sound for a call so we can discuss how to get these candidates into your hands?

    [Your name]


  3. Be Honest

    From the prospect’s point of view, a random person is reaching out, and for some that can be odd, especially when the sender acts overly familiar. One way around that is to be honest about the fact that you’re engaging them with a cold email. Doing so can dispel any tension and baggage that comes with receiving an email out of the blue. By being open with the prospect, you’re telling them that you’re not trying to deceive them, and people are more willing to give their business to someone they perceive as trustworthy.

    Subject: A Quick Cold Email

    Dear [Prospect],

    I hope I’m not being too forward, but I couldn't help but notice that your [Job order posting] has been up on [Job board] for over a month.

    In doing a quick search of candidates in the area, I’ve come up with a short list of candidates who would fit wonderfully in your company. I understand that this may come out of the blue, but I hope we can connect to see what I have to offer you.

    Does either [Date] at [Time] or [Date] at [Time] work for a quick call to discuss how [Your company] can serve you?

    Thank you.

    [Your name]


  4. Emphasize the Problem

    Emphasizing pain is extremely effective in cold emails because of negative bias. Negative bias says that the brain is more sensitive to bad news than it is to good or neutral news. By laying out the prospect's pain points, you can easily gain their attention. Then, you can offer the perfect solution to that problem.


    Subject: No Candidates?

    Dear [Prospect],

    You know how scarce quality candidates are in the current job market. You, your neighbor, and the guy down the street all seem to be hiring. Finding qualified candidates in this climate is an arduous and time-consuming process. And on top of sourcing them, you have to find time to screen them, read their resumes, interview them, and make sure they’re the right fit for the job and your company culture.

    [Your company] can help with all of that. I know this because we’ve worked with companies [Link] just like yours who have struggled with the same things you’re struggling with. I can deliver candidates to you on an accelerated timeline so you don’t have to spend hours searching for them, and I can send them to you.

    With [Your company], you get:

    1. Prompt, explicit communication
    2. Consulting services
    3. Top tier candidates


    I’d love to set up a time to call so we can discuss how we can help you build the best team imaginable, does [Date] at [Time] or [Date] at [Time] work at all?

    [Your name]


  5. Get Personal

    Not to be confused with creepy. You want to avoid invading their private life, especially as a stranger. However, you can see what you can learn from public social profiles on LinkedIn or Facebook. Do they have a favorite band or post about a conference they attended. Calling attention to publicly shared information can invite discussion. People love talking about themselves.


    Subject: How was Hawaii?

    Hey [Prospect],

    I saw on LinkedIn that you were in Hawaii recently. I was just there a month ago for the first time and absolutely loved it. What was your favorite part?

    Now, I didn’t email you just to hear about your trip (but I am interested, I’m already planning a trip back for next year). I emailed you today because I have a wonderful candidate who I think would be a perfect fit for [Job order]. Let me know if you’d like to see them and I’ll send them over.

    [Your company] is dedicated to providing top-tier candidates to companies just like yours [Link]. Thank you for your time.

    [Your name]


  6. Keep It Short, Keep It Simple

    People generally have a distaste for cold emails, so it’s important that you get the pitch out as quickly as possible without losing the prospect. Keep it short and simple. Make every word count and keep those words to a minimum if you can. The idea is to avoid losing the prospect with over explaining and superfluous text.


    Subject: Candidates for [Job order]

    Dear [Prospect],

    I know your time is valuable so I’ll get right to the point.

    I noticed you have a few [Job order] roles that have been open for a few weeks. I have five candidates that would be perfect - would you be interested in meeting them?

    You can read about our process and our success here [Link].

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    [Your name]


  7. Offer Partnerships

    Instead of offering a one time service, pitch a partnership right off the bat. Partnerships are a way to ensure repeat business from a client so that every time they need a new hire, they turn to you. Furthermore, a prospect may be more inclined to give you a chance if they know that you could continue helping them in the future. Don’t forget to offer evidence of successful past partnerships.


    Subject: Partnership Opportunity!

    Dear [Prospect],

    I was looking at job openings on your careers page and I see an opportunity for us to form a partnership.

    At [Your company] we accept many clients, but we focus on building lasting relationships with companies just like yours. Don’t believe me? See what they have to say [Link].

    I’d love to connect this week. Is [Date] at [Time] or [Date] at [Time] a good time?

    [Your name]




Timing is important to keep in mind. You want to maximize your chances of the prospect opening your email. Luckily, there are particular times when people are most likely to check and open emails. The best time to send an email is on a Tuesday or Thursday at 10am or 2pm.

Follow Up

Following up cold emails is vital to the success of any cold emailing strategy. Generally, you’ll send a follow up email two days after the first email, and then an additional one five days after. For example, if you send your first email on a Tuesday, then you should send your first follow up on Thursday, and your second follow up on that next Tuesday. After two follow ups and still no response, it’s up to you whether the prospect is still worth pursuing. Sending too many emails in a short amount of time can easily get you flagged as spam, and you’ll want to avoid that.


Sending cold emails is a daunting task for any recruiter, but it doesn’t have to be. With the provided templates and some small adjustments, you can start to improve your cold emails. If you use an ATS, it’s possible that you can save templates and send automated emails to make sending cold emails easier. If not, take a look at CATS to see how it can help you track candidates, clients, and all that comes with it.