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  • James Maile

Cold Emails In CRE: Will They Drive You Leads or Fall on Deaf Ears?

Don’t scare off precious leads with bad prospecting. Understand the powers and pitfalls of cold emailing in commercial real estate.

By James Maile || October 14, 2022

In commercial real estate (CRE), prospecting is essential in generating and capturing interest, creating opportunities, and a scalable funnel of leads to nurture and eventually drive conversions.

Effectively making first contact with a prospect is a delicate art form. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and you should bend over backward to ensure that the first point of contact resonates with your potential clients/customers.

Cold email is a popular method for reaching out to prospects and it’s easy to see why. You can directly contact a lot of prospects at once, without breaking a sweat, and you don’t have to rehearse what you’re going to say in front of your dog or the mirror.

But if you get them wrong in any way, missing by an inch is missing by a mile.

Some Issues with Cold Emailing

In a nutshell, cold emails are unsolicited marketing messages sent to a receiver without any prior contact. Generally, people are not very receptive to messages of an unsolicited nature… Mainly because they have no established relationship with you and may not even be aware that you exist.

People are less likely to respond to ‘sales’ emails from someone they don’t know, even if you are a Nigerian prince.

There is also a lack of non-verbal feedback, these being cues like facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc. Meaning you can’t change your approach in real-time.

These factors make cold emails very difficult to get right and as a result, most cold emails fail.

However, there are a few dos and don’ts that you can follow to avoid scaring off some tasty leads.

The Dos and Don’ts of Cold Emails

1. Don’t just copy and paste every message…

Even though you can email every Tom, Dick, and Harry, it doesn’t mean you should. A generic message sent to a large group of prospects that has no personalization or segmentation, with a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer efficient.

You will get more favorable responses if you take some time to customize each email to each person. Yes, this method takes much longer than a simple CTRL-V, but you will get much better results.

Personalizing your messages shows the recipient that you have tried to understand who they are, their interests, and what they want. To find out these aspects of the recipient you need to do a bit of digging.

2. Do a bit of research…

You will increase the likelihood of getting a response if you do a bit of research and formulate the email around helping the recipient instead of hard selling. Say something nice to them, like you enjoyed a blog they wrote, a post they shared on LinkedIn, their website, or their product/service.

Having a shared acquaintance or associate to reference in the email will help validate yourself and seem more credible.

3. Treat your email as a slice of news…

Use relevant and interesting content in the email that will serve the recipient and encourage them to read the email and gain an interest in you. Start with something like an insight or try engaging interest with something the recipient may not know. Hook them in with a relevant and topical headline, and you have a recipe for success.

Try and avoid framing the content to be self-serving. If it’s obvious that you only have your interests at heart, people will turn a blind eye.

4. Do a sneaky cyber-stalk before you reach out…

Have a poke around your prospect’s social media pages before you email them. See what they are interested in, their hobbies, what they do at their company, their cat’s name, etc., and see how you can use such information to fit your offering.

This will help your email steer clear of the bottomless pit that is their spam folder and build a meaningful connection.

5. Stand out by adding value…

Like most people, your prospect receives tons of emails on a daily basis. Cut through the fluff and show them why your product/service will add value to their lives. Add a personal touch to relate to the customer’s needs.

Think of why they need you and how your offering is different from your competitor standing in the line behind you.

Your email will only seem cold if it doesn’t provide any insights or value to your prospects.

6. Don’t feel discouraged by low engagement…

You won’t get amazing engagements with cold emails, but you mitigate this by planning a large reach.

What helps is if you use a catchy subject line, relevant to the recipient, and keep a clear call-to-action. Once people engage, move them along to a different stream for nurturing.

Following these simple guides will drastically improve your prospecting in the CRE industry. Especially as it’s getting harder and harder to contact or connect with prospects due to the overwhelming volumes of CRE information they are exposed to on a daily basis.

What Dylan and Josh Have To Say

In an episode of CREview (our CRE content podcast) hosts Dylan and Josh covered the topic of cold emails. This is what they had to say:

Dylan, our Head of Digital Strategy, has sales reps working harder than a one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad with the number of cold emails he receives in a day.

What he sees the most are the reps being incredibly creative with the subject lines. The subject lines are a tricky one to consider with cold emails because you want to grab your prospect’s attention, but you don’t want to sound too salesy or cringy.

There are tons of websites that give annoyingly conflicting opinions on how to formulate the perfect subject line but honestly, JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE!

The extensive research that ol’ Dyl has done shows that keeping it simple and honest is the best way to get better engagement from your cold emails.

There is also no need to continue beating a dead horse. If your prospects have not responded after a reasonable time, let’s say a week, don’t carry on berating them with cold emails. Just wait some time, renew your approach and go again.

Josh, the Jet-setting sidekick, recommends that if you are reaching out to prospects (that you can’t meet in person), try starting with a cold call first. If you don’t get through to someone at the company, follow up with an email.

In terms of prospecting in general, the top 3 ways to reach new prospects in CRE are:

1. In-Person – Go to events and conferences like ICSC. Nothing beats meeting people face-to-face when it comes to cold selling, then following up with an email.

2. Cold Calls – Get on the phone and chew the fat with some people over the phone. We’ve seen great ROI for our clients with cold calls.

3. Cold Emails – Although you can reach many prospects at once, it can be very time-consuming and the engagements on them are not nearly as high as you’d like them to be.

Although cold emails are at the bottom of the list, they still have an important place in CRE prospecting. As Dylan says, although cold emails are salesy and sometimes annoying, they are quite a good tool for awareness.

Your prospects may not currently need your product or service but that could change in time. If your prospect has a moment of realization, they have your emails in their inbox and can easily reach out to you.

The moral of the story is – keep sending out those emails but adjust your strategy so what you’re sending is targeted, tailored, and valuable to the reader! (And subscribe to our YouTube channel).

If you’re a CRE company (including CRE tech) that needs some marketing help, put your cold emailing skills to the test: GETSTARTED@ATYPICALCOMPANY.COM.

Until next time,



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