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How to Ask for an Appointment in an Email Cold Call


Email prospecting guideWhen I got the message below from Daniel McLellan, I had to share it with you. The way he "closes" his emails is much better than what I recommended in my new Ultimate Guide to Email Prospecting. <Click here to get your free copy!>

Why is it better? The person on the other end feels like they're talking to a human being, not a salesperson. It reduces their defensive responses and opens them to actually talking with you -- just like you're talking to them. 

But enough of my pontificating. You need to read what he wrote:

email cold call

I love your stuff. Your email strategy just paid for my new backyard deck! I used to send a hundred template emails and get no response. Now, I take that same time to send 10 strategic cold call emails with ample research and will get 5 responses.

There is one part of your strategy that I needed to substitute though - the action you're driving to at the end.

I explain to my sales team that asking people to call you back is a bit obnoxious - even if there is value and reason. When you do that your prospects are left thinking, "Wait, you want me to call you? So you can pitch me? You want me to stop doing my job and search for time in my calendar to give you so that you can sell me? Are you kidding?"

Using your strategy increases response rates for sure, but even great emails will sometimes fail. This is why I take a different approach.

I try to put as much of the onus on me as possible to connect. 
Here are some ways that I do that. 

Example 1: "I have time free on Friday, July 6th at 2:00pm. I'll reach out to you then to discuss. I hope you're able to take my call." 

With this closing statement, you're:

  • Showing that you are not asking anything from them.
  • Carrying the labor of the continued conversation.
  • Passively trying to connect, not aggressively.

Example 2: "I'll reach out to Mary to see if you have some time free to discuss next week." 

By suggesting that you'll reach out to their executive assistant, you're:

  • Showing that you've done your homework.
  • Following the correct protocol for the continued conversation.
  • Not asking anything from them and their busy schedule.

Example 3: "I have time free on Friday, July 6th at 2:00pm. Are you free at that time to talk?"

By closing this way, you're:

  • Still asking them to do something, although it's minimal. They just need to check one date/time in their cal.
  • Giving them enough time (at least a week out) to ensure that they'll have a free spot on their calendar. 

Sometimes I'll offer two times a week out for them to choose from and then say, "Which date/time works best?"

By taking this approach, I'm applying a successful passive/aggressive strategy. I'm able to send 3 to 5 emails and make 3 calls without annoying the prospect...which isn't easy.

Here are a few suggestion to increase your email cold calling success rate using this approach: 

  • If I don't reach them, I leave a voice mail and send an email stating, "I guess this didn't turn out to be a good time. Let's try again for Wednesday at 3pm."
  • On the morning of my proposed meeting I'll send an email stating, "As per my message, I'll be calling you today at...I hope that we're able to connect. Please let me know if that time doesn't work."
  • I'll continue this for 3x per prospect, then back away. After the 3rd attempt, I usually say, "I guess this time frame is way too busy for us to connect. I'll try again in the future. In the meantime, feel free to contact me..."
  • I then move on to someone else in the company after the 3x.
  • I try to splice the attempts with value. Before the scheduled call attempt, I may forward them an article stating, "This company looks like they are going through the same thing as you...check out their approach". Or on a VM, stating, "By the way, B2B magazine has a whole section this month of the financial services vertical and I know that's a big focus for you guys."
email cold call

I love the simple elegance of Daniel's approach. The moment I read/heard it from a customer's perspective, I knew it was much more effective. 

P.S. Get your free copy of Ultimate Guide to Email Prospecting. You need to find out what comes before the "closing" comments. 

Question: Would you respond better to this closing than your typical approach? What else works well for you? Share your comments now.

Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.


Love the simplicity of this and how it doesn't force all of the onus on the prospect.  
One thing I heard a customer of ours doing was sending out an email and then saying "Are you free at x day on x time to talk some more? I'll send out an invite to your calendar." Since a lot of people live by their Google or Outlook calendars, sending out an invite is less work to coordinate times and mark it down themselves.  
We've found this to be pretty effective at Tout - thoughts on the approach?
Posted @ Wednesday, August 15, 2012 3:11 PM by Lauren Buchsbaum
This a fantastic article for so many reasons - first and foremost, it's concise, useful and to the point information that one can put into practice immediately (my feeling is that most salespeople, like me, have the attention span of a fly and we like short, useful instructions.) 
Second, the fact that you published a book dedicated to these tactics, received constructive feedback on how to improve your strategy and not only did you recognize that the writer was correct, you did so publicly! Not always the easiest thing. Very impressive on all counts.
Posted @ Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:57 AM by Daniel Francès
Normally I don't send e-mails to cold call, instead I send snail mail with a book along with my cover letter (once I sent Jill Konrath book). When sending to small companies I write something like "I will be calling you next Thursday, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, to book a meeting with you, if that does not work for you let Maria know when will be a good time to reach you." 
With big companies besides the book I also send a little questionnaire with the following options: 
1) I'm available 28-8-2012 at 5:00PM 
2) I'm available 6-9-2012 at 12:00AM 
3) I'm available ______ at ____ 
4) I'm available ______ at ____ 
5) I will delegate this to ______ 
6) I want to talk to you. Ask my Personal Assistant to put you through. 
7) I'm not interested. 
In the cover letter I ask him to fill the questionnaire and hang it hover to Maria (or whatever name his PA has). 
This second approach does not work very well with small companies (with small companies the first one works better), but with big companies it works like a charm.
Posted @ Thursday, August 16, 2012 2:08 PM by Ricardo Patrocínio
Great suggestions, Jill. Rather than assuming they will want to call you back (the probably won't) you put the responsibility on you. All they have to commit to is being there. 
Posted @ Friday, August 17, 2012 6:55 AM by Marc Zazeela
I do not agree with this method. I think it quite presumptous to assume your prospect wants to meet with you and I would not respond. What I hear clients say is do your homework, find out what issues I am dealing with and approach me about sharing how you have solved these problems elsewhere. Rule of thumb is 7 contacts before you give up, 50 calls and 50 emails.
Posted @ Monday, August 20, 2012 7:54 AM by Kathy Minchew
I absolutely love Dan's strategy. He sounds courteous, professional, and NOT annoying! Even the way he structured his email to you you can tell that he knows what he's doing. I hope the company he currently works for appreciates a man like that, for they are far and few between. 
Thanks for sharing, Dan!
Posted @ Monday, August 20, 2012 10:57 AM by Karen Koster
Why do you assume that a "prospect" WANTS to meet with you in the first place? You may set a lot of appointments by forcing yourself onto their calendar, but forced appointment does not make willing sales. When I get calls/emails telling me they will be calling me at x day at x time I intentionally will ignore them simply because you've already pissed me off setting your own appointment BEFORE even knowing if I have the slightest inch of interest
Posted @ Monday, August 20, 2012 8:54 PM by Bob Jamoley
Thanks for all your comments and feedback. Much appreciated! 
To Kathy, we actually agree more than you think. Doing your homework and finding out the issues that you are dealing with is exactly what's described in the guide that's offered by Jill in this article. This strategy here is just for the last line after you've done all that. I'd never ask for the call without doing so. 
To Bob, yes this is a bit presumptuous, but we're talking about sales tactics. In most cases, the main goal is to speak to the prospect on the phone. 
That said, there IS a lot of merit to finding out if there is interest before suggesting a call, so I agree with you on that point. I believe in Permission Marketing, (as made popular by Seth Godin). So, your action at the end of the email (after using the strategy in this guide) can then be: 
Would you like to learn more on how... 
Is this something that interests you? 
Great points! 
Posted @ Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:45 AM by Danny McLellan
I think this is a great strategy and worth testing out. I'll try it over the next month or so and let you know the results. 
On another note - Jill if you're able to get to South Africa again, look at 12 to 14 April, we'd love to have you visit us at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa's Convention.
Posted @ Friday, August 24, 2012 1:04 PM by Jacques de Villiers
Definately useful tips. Will statrt using right away. THANK YOU.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:12 AM by Jenni Chiarotto
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:20 AM by Shannon
very good
Posted @ Friday, November 30, 2012 4:31 PM by sarah
So yes yes this is all very nice and professional but REALLY using emails for cold prospects. 1) Those emails often got to spam 2) Most people gets 100's of emails per day and are not all that interested in "cold" anything 3) There are MUCH better ways to prospect than cold emails. And yes you spend little time and money but is there any sort of real ROI? Just sayin':) I've been a sales consultant & trainer for 25 years (http://www.adrianmiller.com) and right now, I back off from using this approach with clients.
Posted @ Friday, December 07, 2012 11:23 AM by Adrian Miller
"Example 1: "I have time free on Friday, July 6th at 2:00pm. I'll reach out to you then to discuss. I hope you're able to take my call." 
However, I like it NOT because of the technique or the particular strategy but, rather, because of THE SPIRIT intimated in it. 
The spirit of professionalism and mutual respect is important to help both sides of the sales table get the best out of the sales meeting|relationship. 
If mutual respect is absent, one of the two parties becomes either an abuser or a beggar... 
Thanks, and Keep STRONG, Jill! 
+Vincent Wright
Posted @ Saturday, February 02, 2013 12:48 PM by Vincent Wright
I would never do business with a company that sends these emails. They annoy me. No, I am not available, and I never will be. If I need your product or service, I will call one of your competitors wo doesn't spam me.
Posted @ Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:29 PM by Scott
Great topic! Thank you for sharing an out-of-the-box idea for an ever-evolving world and ways of prospecting. After reading this article several weeks ago, I really liked the ideas presented. I've used this approach maybe five times since. I did get positive responses back from four of the prospects. I did do my research and presented ideas in the email without divulging too much information as I ultimately want to get in front of the prospect. Since then, I have read the comments, which I had not done previous. My take, on what seems to be a split of positive and negative reactions to this approach, is that everyone has a preferred method of communication. I find that it differs from one generation to another, but I can't say that I can lump GenX or Baby-boomers into one style or another. I ask what their preferred method of communication is during our first live conversation. It is difficult to get someone on the phone these days and I find that I can get more information across in a thoughtfully composed email which helps to build my credibility, which is the goal. I'm going to continue to use Dan's method for a couple months and track the results. I'm also going to bring this topic before a group of my peers from different industries (ages 24 - 60+) at our next meeting. It will be interesting to get their point of view from the standpoint of them being on the receiving end of an email composed as per Dan's suggestion(s). Judging from the comments on this post, it should be a good debate.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 30, 2013 8:18 PM by Virginia Cunningham
My most successful method is to call, engage the assistant or secty-find out what they (the company is using or doing)and see if I can talk to the exec I need, or, if I need to talk to someone else first. Assistants always want to be helpful and screen out sales people. They will give you more info than most execs. Bottom line, follow up with an email to the assistant and cc the exec. Shows you are serious and gives you a valid reason to call back or stop in. Empathy, rapport, knowledge and persistence usually wins out. The 5 rule works! 2% of sales close on the first call, 3% of sales on the 2nd, 5% on the 3rd call, 10% on the 4th and 80% on the 5th. By the fifth call you are old friends and you should be moving ahead for a decision by the end of the first meeting or contact.
Posted @ Friday, June 07, 2013 3:16 PM by Rob
That's a good one Rob...I never heard of that. I am now going track what number call I am at, in addition to what stage of the sales cycle. I'm interested in seeing how well it lines up with those projections. Sounds dead on.
Posted @ Monday, June 10, 2013 7:38 AM by Danny McLellan
"What if I were to call you on Friday, July 6th at 2:00pm? Would that work for you? I'll reach out to you then, and hope you're able to take my call if this is interesting to you."
Posted @ Tuesday, June 25, 2013 10:12 PM by Hys
Hi Jill. Before launching our Pipeline Marketing conceptwww.vendemore.com/presentation we delivered lead generation services to B2B tech companies wanting to enable top management meetings with potential mid sized to large companies.  
After many iterations and testimg of various structures the one that converts best is to combine our targeted advertising with an email and a follow up call. 
The email text with the highest total conversion follows the structure below: 
Email parts - 
Sentence about the company where the reciever works such as a mention about a new client they have, a new office or a new product. 
Namedropping 3-4 companies that you work with from the same industry as the reciever. 
A description about the major problem you solve for clients (not how you solve it...just the defined problem). 
A heads up on the call like: "I will try to reach you on tuesday between 9 and 10 to discuss a potential meeting".
Posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 2:32 AM by Christopher Engman
I am so happy to find your site with all those valuable advice. I much appreciate it. Also some of the replies are so helpful. Thank you all.
Posted @ Saturday, July 13, 2013 6:11 PM by Karezis Ioannis
Hi Jill,  
This "new" approach sounds good, putting the onus on yourself.  
But if I could show you a more effective way to get increased responses from your emails, would you be interested?  
Jill, if I may ask, who's running the numbers to prove which methodology is more effective.  
Sounds good but it could be just penguin theory (looks good in black and white but just won't fly)  
Who's opening emails anymore?
Posted @ Tuesday, August 06, 2013 4:02 PM by Ron Schmidt
Very useful information. I would like to add that you give the an idea of the time involved, like for example: "this will only take about 5 minutes of your time." I also found that using Linkedin inmails work quite well for cold call emailing.
Posted @ Wednesday, August 07, 2013 3:13 AM by Eric van Hall
Beyond Daniel McLellan's constructive suggestions here and Jill's awesome "Ultimate Guide to Email Prospecting," don't forget powerful tools like TimeTrade's award-winning appointment scheduling software www.timetrade.com).  
TimeTrade lets you add a "Click here to schedule an appointment with me" line on the bottom of your email signature, with a hyperlink that points to your personal schedule which shows prospects specific times you have made available for phone or in-person appointments. From there prospects get to pick a day and time that works for THEM! Say good bye to usual back and forth phone tag or email ping pong involved in finding a mutually convenient time to talk. Jill K. herself has described TimeTrade as way to "better inform and engage with potential customers."
Posted @ Tuesday, August 27, 2013 5:57 PM by Patrick Rafter
Hmmm...shameless plug, but it does fit the thread..and the tool IS kinda awesome.  
Well played Patrick Rafter..well placed indeed. 
Posted @ Tuesday, August 27, 2013 6:35 PM by Danny McLellan
You're going to love this one. I just got sent an formal invite on my Blackberry by two people that I have never met, who work for a company I have never heard of. I have had to decline 2 invitations so far!
Posted @ Thursday, January 02, 2014 2:24 PM by Paul Robinson
Question: Would you respond better to this closing than your typical approach? What else works well for you?  
My problem with the above thread / and recommendations is two-fold. 1. Using cliches like I will reach out to you... and 2. Presumptuous invites...and assumed close - with closed-end statements make it too easy to just say NO.  
(or simply delete). Still I see no value prop? Great discussion and no one true method ... Bob
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 11:39 AM by Bob VL
On August 6, 2013, I sent the following message: 
Dear Ms. Doyal: 
I learned about your podcast a few weeks ago. While listening to the most recent episode, I heard you talk about hiring an audio editor. 
Audio editing is one of the things I do. Would you like to discuss this with me? 
This person has been my client since that day.
Posted @ Thursday, February 06, 2014 5:34 PM by Christopher Wright
Three cardinal sins that sellers commit when trying to cold-sell : 
1. They spell my name wrong in the e-mail. 
2. They do not address me in the e-mail as "Mr." 
3. They, being absolute strangers to me, do not explain where they got my e-mail address from. I know that they did not get it from me ! 
Three strikes. Not interested. Delete. 
So simple to follow- and they wonder why they do not get sales from me. 
Posted @ Wednesday, March 19, 2014 4:43 PM by Mr. Soloman Grundy
I agree with both sides of the argument here, but let me express what I think the difference is. First, the article says "cold call emails" and this is something I have a problem with. If I am on the receiving end of such an email and I don't know the person, then I am likely to be defensive about doing business or even talking with such a person. Secondly, spam emails are generally considered to be illegal any way. Considering how people are tired of sales people and all of the privacy concerns out in the world today, who in their right mind is going to give of themselves freely to an anonymous sales person calling them at a set time? So, I think this strategy is full of holes as far as cold calls are concerned. 
On the other hand, I think this strategy might work well with a "warm call." A warm call would be with someone who has met the sales person before, but for some reason, no sales were ever consumated. I can see how this might work if I say "Jill, we met at the Chamber meeting last month, and I know you're busy, but I plan to call you next Friday at 1:00 pm to discuss how I can save your company 20% or more on its health insurance just as I did with your competitors down the street last month. I hope you will have time to take my call then!" 
Since I have mentioned the time and place where I previously met the prospect (to jar their memory that I am not a cold caller), then I think this strategy has some bite to it. Thanks. 
Posted @ Thursday, March 20, 2014 4:50 PM by Joe Carlton
You have made many great points in this article. I have found that when it comes to email success, it is trial and error. You have to find out which wording within your email works with the industry and size of business you are trying to reach. I have found that asking for an appointment via email can work if the right information is provided.www.beginnersales.com
Posted @ Saturday, March 22, 2014 3:16 PM by Beginnersales
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