Are we a match? Are we a match

The cold email template that generates all our B2B leads

Table of contents

In this post I will cover:

  1. Where to get leads from.
  2. How to run an outsourced lead generation team.
  3. The cold prospecting email that will get you business.
  4. The costs of running this process.
  5. BONUS: You can download free cold email prospecting templates.

Hello (waves), my name is Alan O’Rourke.

You might know me from such places as that page on the internet and that guy who posts stuff on Twitter. Michael, our great and holy CEO asked me to join the great team here as VP of Growth. Growth is one of those newfangled silicon valley type job titles that reaches across sales, marketing, and product for ways to attract more happy customers. The more cynical among you might suggest that it is a way to get me to do three jobs instead of one, but I am sure that is not the case…

Last year, I gave a talk at the DMX and Growth Hacker events about the process I used when prospecting for sales in my last company, which I am happy to share below.

I will primarily focus on outbound email prospecting, using my own experience and testing, combined with the Predictable Revenue framework from the book by Aaron Ross. It was a process that needed the involvement of both sales and marketing as both teams needed to discover the ideal buyer persona of our customers. We needed to find our own marketing voice, what works, and what doesn’t work, and I need to adjust our sales and marketing pitch to this audience.

There are some practical / process aspects that aren’t covered in the book. I will cover what I have discovered here, and I’ll show you using some examples from projects I completed in the past.

The prospecting flow that I operate is as follows:

Prospecting flow

Some people are going to wince here, but I go out and scrape the web for our target companies. I scraped our contact details, I do some data cleaning on those, I pop them into the CRM, send them a prospecting message, and if they are interested I give them a call. I will go into that in a bit more detail.

tools for finding leads for cold emails

Web scraping

I built a team based in the Philippines, Upwork. Their job is to go out and get contacts for us in our target companies. I have five people. They each generate 200 leads and this takes them each, individually, around sixteen hours.

When interviewing for these people on Upwork, I would expect them to use LinkedIn and other platforms where they can find leads and get additional information on those contacts. They tested the contacts through a MailTester and Rapportive.

If you’re interviewing lead-generating people, they really need to be mentioning these tools and if they’re not then it’s a red flag.

how many leads should one rep generate

I found on average that for every 100 leads that are generated, it takes one of our team 8 hours to do that and will cost on average 0.25 cents per lead. So that’s a good ballpark if you’re starting up.

Actually, just to go back again, when you are interviewing prospective lead generators for this, ask them how long it’s going to take. Say I need a hundred leads, how long is that going to take you?

And if they don’t answer around about the 8-hour mark, then that’s a warning and you should probably move on. When you start using these people, when you start building a lead generation team, you probably want to check who’s actually delivering good leads and who’s not.

Web scraping 1

This is a good tool to use. BriteVerify, and basically you upload a list of emails and it will test them all for you and will give you back whether they’re good quality or not. At this point, I have the leads, and I pop them into an Excel spreadsheet, where duplicates are removed. Duplicates are unavoidable with a team.

CRM for nurturing cold email leads


The leads are tagged to track the source of who created them. Then, once I start measuring I can go back and see what was the cost of the success. Also, I can see who the low-performing members of the team are and I can perhaps move on to others.

Prospecting message

Prospecting message

This is a real example (above) of the prospecting message that I send out. The beauty of Predictable Revenue when creating prospecting emails is not to ask for the sale. Instead, you actually ask for a referral for your target in the company. Once you get that referral, it turns a cold prospect into a warm referral. At this point, the sales guy gives them a call. Because they have been referred, internally in their company, they’re a lot more likely to listen and respond to you.

The mail, as you can see is asking for help. People by default really want to help so it’s a great foot in the door.

Prospecting message resultsProspecting message results

This is our actual results after a few weeks using this process. I sent 870 prospecting emails in one week:

  • Very low Bounce Rate: 13%
  • Pretty high Open Rate, I actually have 40% in one mail
  • Pretty low unsubscribes
  • This is the killer, absolutely 0 abuse complaints from sending this prospecting message. (I’ve had marketing emails where I haven’t got that low, just incredible.)
  • I got an interest rate of 1.57%. (It’s low but it’s actually pretty good for what we’re doing.)

Using this data, I was able to set goals for the following week. I was aiming for 2.5%, with an overall target of up to 30%. Whether I hit 30%, I had no idea, but that’s our overall target.

cold calling lead generationCall

Then it’s over to the sales guy. The goal is to get a demo of the product. I find that for every two demos I do I get one sale which is a pretty good return.

UPDATE: Before you jump into cold email prospecting, consider what you charge for your service to see if the returns work for you. Nik in the comments below has a great calculation you can use to find out.

Comments (18)
  1. So breaking this down:

    870 leads = $217.50
    Email Verify= $8.70
    CRM= $12 (even though you work there its still COGS)
    MailChimp= $26.10 for 870 emails (integrated w. onepage)
    Domain name/month: $1.33 ($16 yr. divide by 12= $1.33)
    MS office365 email host: $4 month
    Labour: $0.00 (unrealistic)
    Base cost: $269.63 (not inc. website) = $0.31 lead.

    Interested leads= 13.659 (call it 14)
    Cost per lead: $20.74
    50% close rate: 7 new customers @ $12 month for OnePageCRM = $84.00

    Zero cost of Sales Labour.

    At a 25% attrition rate per yr: $756 first year, $567 second, $425 third. Total revenue: $1,748.00 less upfront costs $1,478.37 possible revenue.

    -25% attrition rate (don’t know what is SAAS standard)
    -zero cost of labour which is unfair, a half decent sales person would be at least $55k yr. divided by 40 hr. week / 52 = $26.44 (not inc. tax if contractor or other payroll tax, unemployment, pension govt tax etc)
    -zero support or accounting overhead costs

    Changing this with the labour costs; call it 2 hours total per interested lead= $370.19 labour cost (not inc. email writing time)
    total cost: $370.19 + $269.63 = $639.82 total or $45.70 a lead or $91.40 a customer.

    ROI with $12 month crm revenue would be: 7.61 months just to break even with zero OH costs and zero attrition.

    I like the idea but reality is that the you need a dirt cheap call center to just call the company, get the right persons # and call them OR better email them skipping the “do you know who” email that would get trashed too much. OR adding a step that would leverage linkedin or some type of dbase that gives the name of the person.

    I really like the cold call with a near instant screen share on the spot demo, then close or a trial then follow up via email drip then close.

    1. Hi Nik, I love your break down of costs. So many people forget to include their own costs, especially time.
      There is one important point you missed from the post. This was not done for OnePageCRM but for an enterprise software company I previously worked for where each sale was of a considerably higher value.

      I am going to add an update to the post above to point people to your comment so they can calculate if outbound prospecting is a viable channel for what they charge.

      Thanks Nik.


  2. that’s a great idea Alan. With enterprise totally different $$.

    you should do a little e-book “how to calculate and get outsized returns from direct marketing” with a excel spreadsheet to calculate and affiliate links in the book for an immediate revenue kick.

    (can delete/edit this post if you want to run with the idea)

  3. Lovely tips Alan. Keep them coming.

    P.S. You have a very interesting background. Would love to hear the story sometime.

    1. I would ask them to decide. I let them know it was my last email for now but let me know if they want more information or they can subscribe to my monthly newsletter with insights into the industry.

  4. Very informative especially for those who struggle to follow-up their email. Thanks Alan, i am gonna try this from monday and inform you too about result.

    Thanks Alan O’Rourke

  5. Hi Alan,

    Fascinating article.

    And well done on the systematic and measured approach.

    Is there an equivalent article/cost breakdown for cold email marketing of OnePageCRM? Nik’s cost breakdown was good but, like you said, it was for an area “where each sale was of a considerably higher value”.


  6. Alan – I’ve got the outbound ball rolling.
    A question for you (and others). With my first test campaign, I has 3 freelancers build a list of 100 each.
    After deleting dups and running through BriteVerify, I had 97 Valid, 22 Invalid, 158 Accept All and 29 Unknown.
    So here’s my question – The Invalid/Unknown are a given re deleting from my list.
    BUT what’s your suggestion with the Accept All? Did you get similar results? Do I email these, or delete?
    Cheers Rob

    1. Hi Rob, great to hear you’ve got the system underway.

      The number for each category will vary from list to list so it’s difficult to give a definite answer from it.

      BriteVerify do suggest how to handle Accept All emails:

      1. If your ESP’s bounce threshold is 5% or less: DO NOT MAIL.
      2. If your ESP has given you a dedicated IP: MAIL SLOWLY.

      Let me know if you need any more help with this

  7. Email marketing is the best outbound marketing strategy. Cold emailing is an effective way for the b2b lead generation. Thanks, Alan for sharing the article.

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