BASHO emails are alive and well—and thriving. They’re a critical part of personalized prospecting and account-based strategy.
But to crush cold email outreach, you have to do it right.
We looked to one of our internal experts, our Sales Development Rep with the 60% response rate, to show you how (and when) to write a perfectly personalized BASHO email.
And we’ve got examples.
What Is A BASHO Email?
A “BASHO email” is a fancy-pants name for a very personalized B2B email, usually addressed to a decision-maker at a high-value account.
Great sales emails typically reflect a deep understanding of who the prospect is and what they care about. Before writing your sales email, identify 2-3 key findings that you can mention and tie your value prop to.TOPO
Basho emails are only appropriate for high-value accounts because personalization is no joke. It takes time: researching a prospect’s priorities and pain points, their background, and hopefully time to find an opportunity to create a personal connection.
So forget your product features and brush off the benefits, because you’re going to connect with your prospect on a (virtually) human level.
If a 60% response rate and 80% rate of engagement sound good, read on for a process-oriented approach you can use to get similar results.
It’s time to get personal.
When Is Cold Email Appropriate?
Effective cold email outreach means finding something your prospect values—and something you have in common. And as long as you avoid spam words in your subject lines, cold emails can be an excellent growth strategy.
So which situations are appropriate for this type of prospecting?
1. When You’re Using an Account-Based Strategy
Hyper-personalized cold emails are the main tenant of account-based sales approach (related to account-based marketing, or ABM).
When you’re leaving voicemails, sending carefully timed emails, and maybe even putting something in the mail to entice enterprise or high-value accounts, you’ll want to show that you have done your homework and understand your prospect.
2. When You Can’t Get Your Target on the Phone
You want to call a prospect whom you know is a great fit, but you just can’t get them on the phone (ahem *the CMO* ahem). Even our customers—armed with direct-dial phone numbers—can struggle to connect.
What if your prospect doesn’t answer the phone?
3. When Your Prospect Is a Decision-Maker
It’s hard to get decision-makers, department heads, and people of influence —the people you really want to reach—on the phone.
If you don’t have their direct-dial phone number, you could plan to spend a lot of time negotiating with admins and other gatekeepers, or pressing buttons to navigate the phone tree.
Or you could send them a clever BASHO email.
4. When Your Prospect Doesn’t Respond to Social Touches
If your prospect has a social presence that allows you to do some research, but they haven’t responded to your social touches (reaching out on LinkedIn, or a Twitter @mention, for example), your prospect might be ripe for a cold email.
[Interested in more?] Check Out ZoomInfo’s Tips for Outreach Texting
How To Write A BASHO Cold Email (With Examples)
Like many B2B companies, ZoomInfo has such a wide total addressable market. It’s important to really understand specific pain points of each company type, asking questions that uncover those pain points, and provide a relevant solution.
Specific and relevant are the operative words here.
Stick to the “Five by Five” Method
The BASHO approach to account-based sales development takes valuable time researching specific target prospects—it can be a time-suck.
SDRs can easily fall into the trap of spending all their time researching a great prospect and too little time actually selling. (Because—let’s face it—Googling someone is more fun and less risk than actually reaching out!)
A best practice is called the “five-by-five” rule. Josh, our sales rep, spends five minutes researching, and five minutes crafting a message. This is also referred to as the “three-by-three” and done in a shorter period of time.
You’ll quickly recognize when research is going to take longer than five minutes. In that case, walk away.
If you don’t see anything jump out on their LinkedIn within 20 – 30 seconds, or after a quick Google search, move on.
In this case, listening to a podcast was all it took:
Note: The screenshots throughout this post are of emails from DiscoverOrg, which acquired and merged with ZoomInfo in 2019.
Hey Kara –
I listened to you on the Sales Acceleration Podcast on my way to work this morning and loved your insight on the future of sales development.
I am curious, of the 60,000 inbound leads your team gets a month, how often do you have direct desk phone numbers, email addresses and a full reporting hierarchy to reference?
You might be familiar with DiscoverOrg – our Native App is one of the top rated apps on the Salesforce App Exchange.
Brevity and relevance closed the deal here.
Josh spoke to a specific issue (Kara’s sales need for organizational hierarchy) and a specific solution. He didn’t try to fix everything or make sweeping promises.
The podcast reference was specific enough to demonstrate that he really did know who Kara was, and understood her position. She was so impressed with the way he spoke directly to her individual situation, that she did the unexpected. And she responded!
Well I have to admit, I get about 10 BASHO emails a week… and in the last 2 years I’ve only responded to 2 emails… this one being the second. Well done!!
I’m copying my operations manager, Andrea. We normally do have phone numbers, and email addresses… but I’d be interested to hear what kind of reporting hierarchy you’re talking about. If you could provide her with some very high level information… she can take a look at see if indeed your app can add value for us.
Sounds good to us!
Here are eight highly effective methods—packed with examples that worked—of cold BASHO emails:
- Understand Your Prospect’s Pain Points
- Use a Personal Hook
- Refer to Events and Common Interests for Context
- Use a Time-Based Approach
- Leverage Previous Users or Customers
- Quote a Prospect in Their Own Words
- Take a Goodwill Approach
- Prioritize Value Over Cadence
1. Understand Your Prospect’s Pain Points
Take the example of selling into IT Staffing and Recruiting companies. Sometimes the open positions are filled within the IT department, and sometimes they are run through the HR department. This can be cumbersome for anyone in the business development role, and the ability to go after both sides of the house is one of ZoomInfo’s competitive advantages.
That’s the value proposition Josh needed to convey in his email.
But he also needed a hook.
In the case of this example, he noticed on LinkedIn and Twitter that his prospect went to Texas … and our SDR just happened to have attended the Texas vs. Duke game in Portland a few days before.
That connection was just the “Scoop” he needed to provide a great reason to reach out!
Subject: IT or HR? (Longhorns Basketball)
I had the pleasure of watching your Longhorns nearly upset Duke last weekend in PK80 basketball tourney they had here in Portland – hopefully they can keep playing tough like that!
Anyways – out of curiosity, do you prefer to speak with IT Hiring Managers, Talent Acquisition folks, or someone else when going after new accounts?
Reason I ask – DiscoverOrg profiles both IT and HR Org Charts with a full reporting hierarchy, direct dial phone numbers, validated email addresses.. Here’s one for CNA Financial (link).With this accurate data, your team can get in front of the the decision makers who drive open reqs, before they post on job boards.
Jack – do you have 15 minutes to get you free data on target accounts?
On Mon, Nov 27, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Jack wrote:
I like your approach.
That was a fun game; wish we could have pulled out the upset. Still, #1 team and played them on par. Of course, we lost in overtime to Gonzaga a bit later as well so at least we are getting there.
I could find time Thursday afternoon between 1 and 3 CST. Let me know.
It worked! They completed the meeting, Josh opened the opportunity, and we’re in the final stages of a relatively large deal.
Opportunity data helps inform the timing of sales outreach.
2. Use a Personal Hook
To keep it personal and relevant, our Sales Development Rep looks on social media for interests, like sports or traveling, to find a flash-point that the prospect will recognize, causing them to open the email.
This also serves as a point of connection—sometimes even the start of a relationship.
In this next example, Diego, an SDR, was a previous user of our product. Josh reached out to him on the phone several times to try and win him back, but was curtly rebuffed over and over again.
He couldn’t understand why the prospect didn’t see the value in our product!
A look at Diego’s Twitter feed showed that he followed only a handful of people—all Golden State Warriors players. Our rep reached out one last time, thinking of the last email exchange he’d had with Diego, where he said their current data provider was “good enough.”
The email subject line was: “Steph Curry was a free agent,” and the MBA analogy cinched the deal.
Is there any reason why you feel DiscoverOrg isn’t the best tool to have in place for you and your teams?
Reason I ask is, you told me you were “pretty happy” with your current provider — and that is a lot different than saying “we’re crushing it with our current provider and I don’t see any reason to change” — which is what DiscoverOrg’s clients say, judging by our incredibly high retention rate.
If Steph Curry was a free agent – do you think any team would pass on him because they were “pretty happy” with their current PG?
Signing off with WYSIM, “With Your Success In Mind,” a bit of wry humor, our sales rep bet that the sports-loving prospect might appreciate it.
It also showed that he was paying attention and had done his homework on the prospect.
Diego recognized that and replied:
Love the email Joshua thank you. If you are ever interested in coming to (company), we are hiring in a city near you. I could use a go-getter like yourself on the team. Very creative.
I’ll be honest that we have made a pretty big investment in [competitor] given our focus on Outbound Prospecting this year. I would say that 80% of the team are power users and proponents of [competitor] and while I know DiscoverOrg is a great tool as well there is not much I can do to sway the pendulum at this point. As the sales team grows and is now going to be 100% enabled with a license and they are expecting close to 100% adoption it would be an uphill battle to replace [competitor] (at least for now).
That does not mean there is no chance but nothing would happen until we all start to use the tool. Get back to me end of summer (August) to see where we are and we can talk then.
Diego was so impressed, he went on to use Josh’s email in training sessions (and offered him a job)! Our rep was able to schedule a demo that resulted in an ongoing opportunity, and we’re working to replace Diego’s current data provider.
3. Refer to Events and Common Interests for Context
In the next example, Rich was a contact at one of Josh’s top accounts, and he noticed that Rich had recently tweeted about wanting the Falcons (his favorite NFL team) to trade Matt Ryan, after a few poor performances in the middle part of the season.
A quick look at his Linkedin profile showed that Rich played a large part in a recent merger and acquisition—a company event that often marks a purchase opportunity.
As it happened, ZoomInfo also went through an acquisition over the summer—a great mutual connection opportunity.
On Tues, Dec 5, 2018 at 11:08 AM, Josh Sutton wrote:
Subject: Who would you trade Matt Ryan for?
It’s only right I start this off with two questions that came to me while doing some research:
1: What was it like to be a part of C—’s acquisition of M—?
2: Who do you think you think would be a better fit at QB for the Falcons if Matt Ryan was traded?
I got my first taste of a tech acquisition when DiscoverOrg acquired our competitor back in August (though I’m sure it wasn’t anything compared to C— & M—). I feel your pain with Matt Ryan’s recent struggles, I drafted him in fantasy and he’s been consistently unreliable for me.
Anyways, the reason for my note is DiscoverOrg helps companies like Google’s DoubleClick, Adobe, and Sizmek drive faster growth by arming their business development teams with the most accurate sales intelligence. Based on my research, G— looks like a phenomenal fit for our Global Marketing dataset. Here’s our profile of Cracker Barrel’s Marketing Dept as a quick example.
That being said, do you have a few minutes on Thursday afternoon? I’d love for you to see how DiscoverOrg can align with your goals to help your teams crush the rest of 2018 and get 2019 started off right.
On Tues, Dec 5, 2018 at 11:08 AM, Rich wrote:
Well done, great email.
Matt Ryan is a serious sore spot for me…he just constantly chokes, always has, and yet because he was MVP he’s untouchable. That and his stats somehow suggest he’s still a top 5 QB; I guess you can’t measure leadership/inspiration.
And he’s my fantasy QB as well, so Sunday hurt that much more. I could go on and on (as probably any Falcons fan could).
Anyway, as much as I respect the outreach, I’m not doing that kind of BD here. 🙂 Definitely something I would’ve used at M—, though.
I’ll check with my old colleague (now at D—) to see if he’s interested, and if so would be happy to connect.
Keep up the hustle
In this case, we did not win the deal. Rich was the Senior VP of Business Development for channel partners—not the new business team.
However, this exchange opened other doors within the company as he shared Josh’s email with several other colleagues, and created the awareness needed to made ZoomInfo a household name.
That’s OK—you can’t win them all. But everything creates awareness, which helps the next deal.
4. Use a Time-Based Scoop
Business development reps use company “scoop” events, such as personnel moves or funding events, as an opportunity to reach out to previous users.
Referencing a specific, relevant event—along with a personal touch—is key. Bonus points if you can relate to the event yourself, creating an even more personal connection right out of the gate.
Here’s what our SDR did:
- Subscribed to a Scoops Alert in ZoomInfo for director-level job changes in his target industry, to track companies where previous users ended up. One decision-maker at his target account, Matt, had recently changed jobs.
- Cross-checked Salesforce to see that Matt was involved with the purchasing decisions at his previous companies.
- He also checked the prospect’s Twitter feed and saw that he loved fly fishing.
That’s all he needed to know to reach out.
On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 7:11 AM, Joshua Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Subject: Fishing in Oregon (DiscoverOrg)
It’s only right I start off this note with two questions that came to mind while doing some research;
1) Have you done any fishing in Oregon?
2) Do you recall DiscoverOrg from your time with I— (previous company)?
I grew up fishing on the Deschutes River in Eastern Oregon. If you haven’t made it there, I strongly consider going – one of the most beautiful place.
Your former sales teams used our data to get ahold of the decision makers in their target accounts.
Reason for my note, I noticed you’re now leading the sales team at [new company] (congrats), which means you’re likely looking for ways to bring more revenue through the door faster. G— (new company) is a great fit for our HR Dataset and I’d love to reconnect to learn more about your strategy and see how DiscoverOrg can fit.
Here’s our profile of Ross Stores HR/Finance/CxO Org Chart – notice the direct dials, emails, reporting hierarchy. Looks like Nancy C— would be a good POC for that account.
Do you have a few mins in the coming days to connect?
On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 8:04 AM, Matt wrote:
Copying Heather… I think we are using your competitor. So I am not sure we are in the market … She will let you know either way. Thanks. Matt
5. Leverage Previous Users or Customers
On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 10:05 AM, Joshua Sutton <email@example.com> wrote:
Matt – thank you so much for the response and introduction. Heather – great to connect with you via email.
I understand you oversee the Salesforce instance for G— – along with our recent acquisition of RainKing, we also rolled out a huge expansion to our Salesforce Native App that makes it incredibly easy to clean & append your current database with data that is backed by a contractually guaranteed 95% accuracy rating.
I’d love to walk you through our data/integration and show you how DiscoverOrg can solve any data problems you’re experiencing and increase your reps efficiencies without interfering with their workflow.
Do you have 15/20 mins tomorrow at 10am PT or does Wednesday between 8am-12pm PT work better?
On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 10:29 AM, Heather wrote:
I appreciate you reaching out. We’ve recently purchased your competitor and are leveraging our other 2 solutions for deeper data cleanse of account and contact details. I do not see a need for another solution on top of what we currently have and are using. We are too far into our data cleanup for 2018 now.
Keep in touch.
Heather’s reply was not quite what our rep was hoping to hear … but any reply is promising.
On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 3:39 PM, Joshua Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Heather – Thanks for the response and candor.
Out of curiosity, are any of these providers contractually guaranteeing a 90%+ accuracy rating, hand curating, verifying, and updating every record at least once every 60 days? Furthermore, do they provide robust automatic append & clean features that allow you to ensure your reps have the most and up-to-date information in the tools they rely on at any given point? All of this is standard, and accounts for about half of our total offering.
I’m not looking for a signed check by any means – just 15 – 20 mins for an opportunity to show you our capabilities and explore how they can align with your systems/processes. Worst case scenario, you’ll walk away knowing you’ve checked all of the boxes and will have us in your back pocket in case an unexpected need arises… We’ll even give you some free data for your time.
Does Thursday morning or Friday afternoon work for you?
Heather didn’t reply, so the next day, he tried again.
On Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 1:37 PM, Joshua Sutton <email@example.com> wrote:
I hope your day is going well – bubbling this up in case it was buried overnight.
Taking a second thought on this, would you be open to a quick and casual introduction next week?
When Intelemark put DiscoverOrg’s data to the test against our competitor, their reps scheduled nearly 4x as many meetings and increased their efficiencies by nearly 70% using DiscoverOrg accurate and up-to-date data.
Still no response from Heather. That’s OK. Sometimes you have to be persistent.
On Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Joshua Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hey Heather – wanted to give this one last shot and share some customer testimonials that I’ve come across on LinkedIn.
If this type of confidence and excitement in data amongst your reps is a desired outcome for you, I’d love to show you how DiscoverOrg can get you there.
After 3 attempts to engage Heather, our sales rep turned his attention back to Matt.
Our SDR had recently read a quote from the company’s CEO about expanding their global footprint, so he knew mentioning it would get the prospect’s attention.
On Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 4:41 PM, Josh Sutton <email@example.com> wrote:
Below are some Employee Engagement projects happening at what look like good-fit companies.
DiscoverOrg is the only provider in the sales intelligence space that can alert your sales team when companies are in the market for G—‘s services, and give them the most accurate contact information needed to easily get in front of the right person.
I’d encourage you to spend a few mins to see how DiscoverOrg can help G— expand its global footprint faster than any other provider in this space.
On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 3:50 PM, Matt wrote:
Matt CC’d our SDR on a one-word email forwarded to his colleague, Natasha … and that was all our SDR needed.
He did a few minutes’ research and learned that Natasha had worked with DiscoverOrg at her last job and was familiar with our value prop. Even better, she knew one of our Customer Success Managers.
On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 8:08 AM, Josh Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thanks, Matt, moving you to bcc to spare your inbox.
Natasha – I sit right next to your former CSM, Jason Shaw, who informed me that you’re very familiar with DiscoverOrg’s data/integrations from your time with I–, and even helped expand access to the team while you were there.
In the last few weeks we’ve added nearly 40% new data to our platform since we acquired our competitor, and also launched some new updates to our Salesforce Native App that make it incredibly easy to automate the clean & append process.
Do you have a few mins today between 2pm-4pm MT or Friday between 11am-3pm MT to connect? I’d love to learn more about your strategy and goals for 2018; and show you how DiscoverOrg can help your teams get there.
From here, we were able to get in front of the right people again and opened a legitimate opportunity.
6. Quote a Prospect’s Own Words
We’ll just go ahead and say it: A little flattery never hurts.
In this next example, Josh was researching a target account and came across a video of the prospect accepting a new position at the company.
Our rep took a chance and quoted the prospect back to himself.
He also name-dropped a couple of the prospect’s competitors, thinking he might be interested to know that they were also using our product.
When you accepted the position as COO for N–, you said, “I’m excited to be part of N– as we play a pivotal role in helping large companies adapt their sales and marketing organizations.”
Companies like Televerde, Intelemark and InsideSalesTeam are leveraging DiscoverOrg’s incredibly accurate contact data to drive their growth into new business opportunities AND increase ROI for their current clients.
That said, do you have 15 minutes to see how DiscoverOrg can help you make that excitement a quicker reality?
Thanks in advance,
Josh’s email caught Kyle’s attention with the reference to his speech, demonstrating that he was paying attention—and they had something in common.
Kyle couldn’t help but respond:
Thanks much. Aaron leads our efforts to improve the lists we buy and integrate those lists into our campaigns. Please follow up with Aaron and let’s get the conversation started.
Once again, our rep was able to schedule a demo with Kyle, and we have an opportunity to make a great deal—all from a cold BASHO email!
7. Take a Goodwill Approach
In this example, our SDR’s five minutes of research revealed that Josiah, the prospect, was an enthusiastic fan of Northwestern University.
Our rep used that to hook Josiah, and then closed by including screenshots of a feature of our product that would impact the prospect directly. Again, this showed that he understood the prospect’s industry—and therefore his needs.
Good BASHO emails are personalized and relevant. Great basho emails are also generous.
It was a crazy run this year for Northwestern’s basketball team. I’m sure it was a bummer to see them exit in the 2nd round, but I bet it made your year better after Vibes was award the Marketo Technology Partner of the Year this week.
Companies like Rocket Fuel, Turn, and Sprout Social are leveraging DiscoverOrg’s incredibly accurate data to connect with more stakeholders in their target accounts, fill pipeline with high-quality opportunities and rapidly increase revenue.
Do you have 15 minutes on Friday at 1pm CT to discuss moving the needle and continuing this year’s success?
Here’s a Mobile Marketing project happening at Takeda Pharmaceutical and a screenshot of their Marketing Org Chart as a quick example of our intelligence.
Thanks in advance,
Our SDR was trying to show his prospect that he wasn’t just a number for a quota.
He went to some trouble (in less than five minutes, of course) to research both the prospect—and the prospect’s prospects, to prove it.
Although Josiah wasn’t the right decision-maker in this case, he was persuaded enough to refer our rep directly to the person who was.
Solid email. Looks like you did your research on me. I would have been even more impressed if you had mentioned Northwestern football since I played linebacker for the cats.
I do not make decisions like this for our company and 50% of our sales team works remotely. Once a quarter our 150 employees get together to discuss our successes etc.
My recommendation is reach out to John G– our SVP of sales as he would be the decision maker.
Thanks again for the email.
As the marketing manager for a huge company, that connection has the potential to influence a large deal!
8. Prioritize Value Over Cadence for BASHO Emails
In this next example, our SDR is targeting Megan—a marketer.
That means he needs to show that he understands challenges specific to marketing, and uses appropriate language—and that means account-based marketing (ABM).
Our rep knew that marketing judges success based on responses and engagement. So he offered a targeted, marketing-specific value prop, along with hyper-personalized sales presentation.
First, he referenced the locally famous “PDX carpet” background she used in her LinkedIn profile.
The PDX carpet background is awesome – I sent you a linkedin message, but wanted to send you a quick email as I know those inboxes turn into spam targets.
DiscoverOrg just launched it’s HR dataset that is a great fit for [your company’s] marketing and sales teams. Here’s our profile of Chanel’s HR Department. Notice Christine E–, VP of Development in charge of Training and Development, her direct desk phone number, verified email and reporting structure?
We have this type of data on thousands of companies that fit [your company’s] ideal customer profile. I would love the opportunity to discuss how DiscoverOrg can help fill the funnel with qualified leads and fuel those leads through the funnel with the most up-to-date information.
15 minutes next week to connect?
No response. So he tried the next day, this time making the email even more personal.
Hey Megan – below is a screenshot taken to help support my previous message, in case you didn’t have a chance to click the link.
Do you have 15 minutes to pull up some data that fits your ICP?
Our SDR wasn’t spamming Megan, because his email delivered value. (Here’s the difference between cold email and spam.) He emailed her three times in three business days, all without a response—and it was still not invasive, because he was personal and diligent.
From her LinkedIn profile, Josh noticed that Megan liked microbrews. He also referenced the weather, to further create a personal connection.
I hope you enjoyed the “heat wave” we had over the weekend here in Portland. I met some friends for happy hour on Sunday at 10Barrel Brewing and thought it was kind of ironic being up on the rooftop enjoying their “Pray For Snow” seasonal in mid-February — have you had it before?
Anyways, I wanted to check in and see if you had a chance to review the information I provided last week, and send over another little tidbit.
If your teams do list building for outbound email campaigns, DiscoverOrg makes it extremely easy to search for keywords within job titles and descriptions and then push that data directly to your CRM or MAT through our integrations. Here’s a screenshot of folks with “Learning & Development in their job title or description at a manager level or higher.
Finally, after three attempts, he got a response!
My colleague and I would like to learn more. Are you free Friday at 11am?
As it turned out, he knew someone else who worked in the business development team at Megan’s company, and they forwarded our rep an email that Megan had sent to his team:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Megan C– <megan@j—-.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 4:51 PM
Subject: Fwd: Real person just north of you
To: Business Development Team <bd@j—-.com>
A cold email that worked! I was immediately impressed by this guy’s emails and immediately interested, and I still didn’t even respond till the third email. I like how he gave me links to the product and even included screenshots. Being a fellow PacNW-er helped, too. 🙂
Josh has had people tell him “no”—but no one has ever told him that he was bugging them, as long as he took the time to do a little research. It is hard to stand from the crowd with an email.
But if you can find some common ground with your prospect and show that you really understand their pain points, people do respond.
Great BASHO emails really aren’t that hard to write. Being professional means being helpful, empathetic, and doing your homework.
Turns out, people really like that!