Cold email is one of the most common and tested tactics in a modern salesperson’s repertoire.

And yet, sales reps still look for ways to improve their sales email strategy. It’s not hard to see why — after all, only 24% of sales emails are opened (source).

Fine-tuning your cold email strategy might not make your open rates skyrocket to 90%, but it can make a major difference. The right email approach is critical to cutting through the noise — and getting your foot in the door with your next buyer.

On that note, let’s turn to an expert on this topic: Jack Reamer, lead generation expert at Keep reading!

The “Foot in the Door” Method

Ready to start a conversation with any sales prospect in your database or CRM? Introducing, the “foot in the door” cold email prospecting method!

The techniques we discuss in today’s post will help you email any prospect, whether it’s a CEO, marketing VP, industry influencer, or your favorite podcast host.

A simple, 5-sentence “foot in the door” email helped me and Jeremy Chatelaine, the founder of, book 19 meetings with startup founders in Tokyo in just 10 days. Rather impressive considering we had zero connections in Japan, we had only 2 weeks to book 10+ meetings, and we didn’t speak Japanese. And there was one other roadblock: traditional cold email is illegal in Japan. Meaning, we could only contact public emails or contact forms provided on company websites.

You’re probably wondering: why Tokyo? For one, we were filming a cold email course. Anyone who’s been to Tokyo understands why we chose it as our backdrop, as it’s an incredible city.

But, we also chose Tokyo because we wanted to prove this cold email template works. Think about it this way: if this method works with busy start-up founders in Tokyo, despite its strict email regulations, then there’s a good chance it will work for you, wherever you are.

FYI, here are the details of Japan’s strict spam laws:

What is a “Foot in the Door” Email?

The concept of “foot in the door” was inspired by two psychologists, Freedman and Fraser, in 1966:

“The foot in the door technique assumes agreeing to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request. So, initially you make a small request and once the person agrees to this, they find it more difficult to refuse a bigger one” (source).

Here’s an example:


Here’s the cold email copy we used:

This email succeeded for two reasons. One, it was incredibly easy to say yes to. We didn’t ask for anything beyond an exchange of emails. And, people who agreed to exchange emails with us were far likelier to agree to an in-person meeting compared to those who were asked for a meeting in the first message.

How did it perform? Well, we sent 90 emails and submitted 217 website contact forms. We achieved an open rate of 76%. Our reply rate was 26%, and the positive reply rate was 15.6%. We managed to book 19 in-person meetings.

How to Use the Foot in the Door Cold Email Template in Your Business

By now, you understand what the “foot in the door” email method is. Check. And, you have access to an accurate list of verified emails to reach out to. Check. The question is, how do you implement this technique — and implement it ethically?

Start by thinking of a simple, almost-impossible-to-deny CTA. This will be the focus of your initial “foot in the door” email. This initial message should not ask much of its recipient, but the CTA you use should naturally transition into the larger request you ultimately want to make (a meeting, demo, interview, etc.)

Remember: be upfront about your intentions. Don’t disguise your reason for emailing the prospect, or pretend to be someone you’re not just to get a conversation going. The “foot in the door” method is not about deception; it’s about starting small and establishing a connection before asking something of your prospect.

Cold Email Template Examples

Now, let’s put the “foot in the door” method into practice and create a few hypothetical cold emails.

Example 1: Selling B2B Software

“Hi (First Name),

I noticed you are using (competing software tool). Are you happy with the way it (primary benefit of your product)?


P.S. I’m asking because my company actually developed a similar tool that helps solve (problem) and I’d love to hear your feedback on this.”

Example 2: Selling Sales Consulting

“Hi (First Name),

I know this is out of the blue, but as a fellow salesperson, I’d love to hear what your favorite pieces of sales training are. (Books, courses, seminars, workshops, etc.?)

Personally, I’ve gotten a ton of value out of (book) and (seminar) lately!


P.S. Full disclosure, I do sales consulting, but I’m genuinely curious to hear what other successful sales folks like yourself are reading/listening to for help hitting their numbers. Happy to share some notes/tactics/ideas with you as well!”

Final Thoughts: The ‘Foot in the Door’ Cold Email Template

Of course, when we had our success in Japan, the cold email alone didn’t land us all of our meetings. But it did connect us to dozens of founders who were happy to chat with us — it got our foot in the door, so to speak.

Once you get past that tricky first step, cold emails are no longer “cold” and it becomes significantly easily to cultivate a relationship with your target prospect. And if this method worked for us, we bet it’ll work in your industry just as well. There’s only one way to find out!

To learn more about how ZoomInfo can dramatically scale and improve all aspects of your go-to-market strategy, contact our sales team today. We offer the most intelligent B2B contact database on the market.

Jack Reamer is a lead generation expert at Emails That Sell, an email marketing agency built for business owners or marketing execs who want to build a scaleable outbound sales engine in less than 30 days. Emails That Sell will help you attract the RIGHT leads into your sales funnel and turn them into paying customers with impossible-to-ignore cold email campaigns.

About the author


ZoomInfo combines the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.

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