How to Ask for An Appointment in an Email Cold Call


When 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. 

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:

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 great 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 2:00 p.m. 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 2:00 p.m. 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 calendar.
  • 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 three to five emails and make three calls without annoying the prospect…which isn't easy.

Here are a few suggestions 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 3:00 p.m."

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 three times per prospect, then back away. After the third 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 third time.

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 voice message, I'll state, "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."

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. 

Jill Konrath
Jill Konrath is a frequent speaker at sales conferences and kick-​off meetings. Sharing her fresh sales strategies, she helps salespeople speed up new customer acquisition and win bigger contracts. Her clients include IBM, GE, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Staples and numerous mid-​market firms.