Every SaaS Sales Team Must Try 'Email-First' Cold Calling

Let’s start with the numbers.

When we used a cold calling only strategy at Personas we managed to get meetings with only 3 out of every 100 prospects.

Now we meet with 10 out of every 100 prospects using an email-first calling strategy.

We’ve found that, when done properly, an e-mail first calling strategy can increase your prospect-to-meeting rate by 2-3x. It’s more time efficient and it gets better results.

Let me explain why. Then I’ll run you through the best practices we’ve developed from our experience helping B2B sales leaders improve their effectiveness.

A Brief History of the Email vs Calling Debate

Sales was simple 20 years ago. There was only one strategy: ABC (Always be closing). It meant picking up the phone and dialing, every time.

Then with the increased use of call screening, voicemail and corporate gatekeepers it became more difficult to reach decision makers by phone. Email-only took over as the most effective sales strategy.

Today we spend so much time interacting with computers and smartphones that we’ve begun to crave more human interaction. We want to build relationships with the people we do business with, so calling is coming back into vogue… but only after we’ve introduced ourselves via email first.

Why is Email-first Calling the Best Strategy?

Sending an email first and then calling when the prospect replies gives you the best of both worlds.

An email blast to hundreds of prospects lets you immediately gauge the level of interest among that particular audience. You can quickly identify the lowest hanging fruit (those who reply positively) and work on them first.

Getting them on the phone after they respond makes it easier for you to explain your case, and harder for them to say no.

Simple enough so far, right? Let’s get into the details.

The Best Practices of an Email-first Calling Strategy

1. Treat replies from outbound like inbound leads: call them within 5 minutes.

Inbound leads are hot, but they fizzle out if they don’t hear back from you quickly. Outbound replies are the same.

Just because someone is interested now doesn’t mean they’ll be interested an hour from now. They might get hit with emergencies and decide that your call isn’t urgent. Or they might just forget about you. So be sure to call as soon as possible, while they still remember what you wrote.

2. Call EVERY reply.

Unless a response is very negative, you should call each prospect as soon as they respond. Neutral and slightly negative responses are like warm leads. Maybe they didn’t quite understand something you wrote, or maybe they couldn’t immediately see how they would benefit from your product, or maybe they’re not the right person but they know who is.

They’ll be more open to receiving your call because they just wrote you an email.

Side note: if you’re getting a lot of very negative responses, try adjusting your email copy.

3. (Advanced) Call everyone who OPENS your email, when they open it.

You’ll be top of their mind because they just read your name and a message from you. They already know who you are. And your meeting rates will increase simply because the prospect will be either at their desk or flicking through their phone when you call.

The Psychology Behind Email-first Calling

The key is that your call is a reaction to your prospect’s action. Their reply to your email triggers your call… or their email open triggers your call. In that sense, it's not totally cold from the recipient’s perspective.

On the call with the prospect, a good SDR should always treat the email as a 100% valid reason to reach out, i.e. "I thought it’d be easier just to chat". Calling after the email just feels natural. They do something, so you do something. It’s give and take.

Finally, emailing first gives the conversation a reference point. You already have something concrete to discuss that's relevant to them: what they just said in the email :)

Things To Keep In Mind

An email-first calling strategy means you’ll have to master two things: the email, and the call. If you’re weak in one, you’ll have a leaky bucket.

Of course you could always hire a copywriter for the initial email. Our team are experts in crafting emails that convert and we’d be happy to help you out.

It’s also important to remember that the purpose of an outbound email is not to sell, it’s only to spark their interest enough to receive your call. So don’t bog them down with too many details. Keeping this in mind when you write your emails will greatly improve your interested rates.


Every SaaS company should employ an email-first calling strategy. If you follow the best practices described above, you’ll likely increase your prospect to meeting rate by 2-3x.

Personas can help you improve your sales effectiveness. If you have any questions, use the below form to request a meeting with our team.

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