Why a Negative Reaction to Your Email May Actually Generate More Leads

When you communicate with your prospect, the last thing you want them to say is “ugh.”

Or is it?

Our most recent email campaign provided an interesting lesson—and the results may change the way you think about the words you choose for your next campaign.

Here’s what we did:

Can You “Warm” Up Cold Calling?

Our email offered prospects the opportunity to complete a “Cold Call Planner.”

Prospects would answer a few questions about their use of and approach to cold calling. We’d then follow up with the number of local prospects they could call using BWise (our contact database and new business development tool for Atlanta, Charlotte, and Dallas-Fort Worth).

As we were crafting our message, we wondered: would readers’ negative thoughts about cold calling limit our offer’s success?

(After all, cold calling isn't something that stirs up warm, fuzzy feelings in the hearts of many sales reps.)

What if we changed the name to “Warm Call Planner”? Would our prospects be more likely to react positively (or at least less negatively)? More importantly, would they be more likely to open, read, and click through?

Rather than guess and hope for the best, we tested.

The winner? “Cold” calling—by a lot.

When our email used the name “Cold Call Planner,” it generated 50% more click-throughs than our “Warm Call” version.

So what can we learn? There are two key lessons:

Clear Beats Clever (Again)

Our test was the latest reminder that, more often than not, clear beats clever when it comes to generating a response from your prospects.

Everyone knows what “cold calling” is, and it’s evocative. When you create a clear image, you tend to get a clear reaction.

And that leads to the second lesson:

Negative Reactions Can Be Powerful

In our concern about encouraging a negative reaction in our prospects, we lost sight of a fundamental tenet of sales and marketing:

Above all, you want your prospects to react—and reactions can often be more powerful when they’re negative.

It’s why sales reps are taught to find and focus on their prospects’ “pain points”—the problems and challenges that keep them up at night, and that they work every day to solve.

In fact, cold calling may be among the most common challenges for sales reps—that’s why everyone reacts so negatively when they hear those words.

In other words, cold calling is a problem that needs solving. And the promise of a tool that could help our prospects do just that struck a real chord.

On the other hand, no one’s losing sleep over “warm calling.”

And maybe that’s why our “Warm Call Planner” got such a tepid response.