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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

It's Not About What You Want

Someone I don't know emailed me last week to try and convince me to meet with her.

The email was short but its number of missteps makes it worthy of examination.

Here's a screenshot of the email, with only the woman's calendar link partially redacted:

A screenshot of a cold outreach email

If you were me and received this email, would you book some time in Cathy's calendar?

Probably not.

What could Cathy have done better?

Let's have another look at the email...

A screenshot of a cold outreach email with highlights

1. Get My Name Right.

Cathy found my university email address; I don't provide it to anyone other than my students, but (unfortunately) it's listed on my Faculty Profile page.

Do you know what else is on that page? My full name, with its proper spelling. And even if she didn't get my email address from my Faculty page, the correct spelling of my name is in my faculty email address, so she should have known that Puralla wasn't right.

Nobody likes to see their name misspelled... and it sets the tone for the rest of the message.

2. Focus on the Benefit

Cathy wants to "discuss the changes in how we publish our book and digital resources", but hasn't offered a reason as to why I should care about these changes.

A stronger communication would have highlighted not only the fact that changes had been made, but also how these changes would benefit me so that I had a reason to care.

3. Make it about Me (not you)

"I would also love to meet" is great as a response to "I'd love to meet with you".

But it doesn't work in a cold outreach because I've never met Cathy; I don't know anything about her and have little interest in what she would love to do, especially since it appears what she wants to do is "discuss our online simulations and case studies". Um, no thank you.

4. Don't Assume the Meeting

"You can book a 15-minute meeting with me" and providing a calendar link is pretty optimistic given everything that proceeded that line. I know calendar booking links can be very convenient (I use TidyCal to make scheduling "Meet & Greets" much easier), but it's presumptuous to ask a cold prospect to find time in YOUR calendar (read: at your convenience) when you haven't provided any reason or incentive to do so.

I'll freely admit I'm not an expert at cold outreach, but here's how I would have rewritten Cathy's note to make it less about her and more about me:

Professor Pullara,

Many great instructors use online simulations and case studies to help students learn more effectively, but finding the best material to use can be difficult and time-consuming.

To make it easier for instructors like you to find the best cases and simulations for your classes, we've recently changed how we publish our book and digital resources.

If you can spare 15 minutes, I can walk you through our new system and show you how easy it is for you to discover new material for you to use in your upcoming term.

And to thank you for booking some time with me using my calendar link, I'll send you a free eBook of your choice from the following list regardless of whether or not you decide to update your course material; just let me know which book you'd like at the end of our call!

You deserve an easy way to find the very best material for your classes; I hope you'll allow me to help you with that.

Thanks so much,


It's not about what you want. It's about what your customers need.

Marketing and sales are both easier when you remember that fundamental truth.


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