Cold Texting for Sales: Do’s, Don’ts, Tips (& Should You Do It?)
Have you ever received a text message from a stranger trying to sell you something? Who am I kidding, we all have... that’s cold texting, and it doesn’t necessarily have a positive connotation.
If you’re wondering whether you should try cold texting in your sales process, there is some important information you need to consider before doing so.
Let’s look at the legality of cold texting in the US and other places, including how you can use text messages properly to nurture leads and close more sales.
What is Cold Texting?
Is Cold Texting Legal?
In short, no—cold texting is not legal in most places. In the US, regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Agency (TCPA) require businesses to get specific opt-in from prospects or customers before they can send SMS messages. Purchasing a contact list for bulk cold texting is also illegal. And in Europe, GDPR regulations require opt-in before any type of outreach.
That means cold text messages like this are not legal:
That said, not all business texting is illegal. In fact, there are some very effective ways to use this form of communication during your sales process (and you can do it without stepping over into something illegal).
Let’s talk about how sending text messages can be a powerful tool for your business, and examine how you can do this both legally & without annoying your prospects.
3 Benefits of Cold Texting Prospects (When Done Right)
With the right knowledge and process, you can use texting to turn prospective customers into loyal fans of your business. Here’s what the data tells us about the benefits of SMS marketing and sales:
- Get more eyes on your message: SMS open rates can be as high as 98%, which means more people will read your message.
- Make the path to response frictionless: It’s easy to respond to an SMS, which is probably why they average a 45% response rate.
- Communicate on a more personal level with your prospects: When using SMS as a 1-1 communication platform, a salesperson can make their message more personal to the recipient.
But, how do you make sure your text messages are sent legally?
4 Ways to (Legally) Send Cold Text Messages to Your Prospects
If you want to use text messages for your initial outreach, you’ll need to make sure you get permission from them to use their phone number, first. Here are three simple ways to do that:
1. Create an SMS Opt-In on Your Website
For new inbound leads coming through your website, capture more traffic by adding an SMS opt-in.
Here are some ways to do this:
- First, use a chatbot that collects the cell phone number of the person, or directly creates a text conversation with your sales team.
- Second, use your inbound forms to collect the communication preferences of your new inbound leads. Add a question that asks them their preferred method of contact, and then collect their contact information based on what they say.
These are two simple ways to allow inbound leads to opt-in, giving you the legal right to contact them via SMS—while simultaneously turning your cold texting efforts into more of a warm communication medium.
2. Make Your Cell Phone Number Available
If you want to encourage prospects and leads to reach out via SMS, make sure your phone number is available to them. Add it to your LinkedIn profile, your email signature, and anywhere else prospects may find it useful.
3. Set up a Texting Short Code
Short codes allow your prospects or customers to text a short message to your number and automatically opt-in to receive messages from you.
The great thing about short codes is that you can mention them anywhere, online or offline, and get direct opt-in from your prospects before contacting them.
Here are some ways you can use short codes to elevate your cold texting strategy:
- Place the short code as an alternative to your website’s chatbot or customer support contact
- Add a short code to a marketing resource for delivery via SMS
- Promote your brand on social media with a short code opt-in
4. Use LinkedIn to Find Available Phone Numbers
While this may be treading into a bit of a grey area, another way to get the phone number of your prospects is to see if they’ve posted their number publicly in their contact information on LinkedIn.
If you’re connected and they recognize your name when you reach out, you may be able to use this warm texting method to reach out—though just to be clear, the legality is questionable around what constitutes a true opt-in here.
5 Cold Texting Examples and Templates (for Sales Teams to Learn From)
Wondering what a cold text message should look like for sales teams? Here are five examples of great cold messages that resonate well with prospects and customers.
The Cold Texting Double Opt-In
This cold text example from Textline shows how simple a double opt-in can be. If your business deals with sensitive information of customers, it’s especially important to think about using double opt-in.
The LinkedIn Contact
This very real cold text message was received by our Head of Content, Ryan Robinson recently. The message was to the point, personalized, and feels like a 1:1 conversation with someone in his network—though if you ask him, he's still not a fan of an unsolicited text message.
The Simple Cold Texting Introduction
Especially if your opt-in process includes any interactions with a chatbot or other automated messaging, this cold text intro is a great way to show you’re communicating with this prospect directly, personally.
The Qualifying Text Message
This example shows how you can use your initial contact with a prospect to quickly qualify them. As you receive new inbound leads from a form on your website, use SMS to ask them one simple qualification question before you move forward.
The Cold Calling Voicemail Text
Are you calling inbound leads and not getting any response? Use this voicemail follow up technique to eliminate friction and try to get a faster response through SMS text messaging your prospects.
5 Cold Texting Tips to Nail Your SMS Strategy (and Turn Your Cold Texts into Warm Texts)
Ready for some actionable cold texting tips? Make the most of your sales text message strategy with these best practices:
1. Use Cold Texting to Follow Up
The true results are found in the follow-up. If you’re working with a potential customer that’s gone dark and seems to be ignoring your calls and emails, try sending a text message. With a much higher open and response rate, you may be surprised at how much faster you’ll see results with text messages compared to a phone call or cold emails.
2. Make Your First Message Short and Sweet
When using text messages for sales, there's a definite limit to the number of characters you can add to the message without scaring your prospects away. But in most cases, you’ll stay far under that character limit.
The right way to use SMS in your sales strategy, is as a place to start or rekindle a conversation. That ensures your first text message isn't a sales pitch—it’s simply trying to engage with your potential customers.
3. Offer Relevant, Valuable Information
If it’s obvious you’re only trying to sell something, people may be more reluctant to hand over their cell phone number. So, just like in other forms of inbound marketing, create a hook that encourages people to sign up for your texts. Try our best lead generation ideas to get started down the right path.
Think: What’s the benefit to the customer? Will they get faster responses to questions? Better service? An exclusive offer? Make it worth their while from the get-go.
4. Use Text Messages as Reminders
Have a sales meeting or product demo scheduled with a prospect? Reminders are a great way to limit no-shows, and SMS can be an excellent platform to send a friendly reminder before a meeting.
5. Invest in a Texting Platform for Sales Teams
There are plenty of dedicated texting platforms available, but you want to make sure you’re using a tool that will integrate seamlessly into your sales team’s current workflow.
In Close, SMS is built-in, meaning you can centralize all meaningful conversations in one place, no matter which format they occurred in. You’ll also get instant insights into your sales team’s texting activities, plus simple pricing with no hidden fees.
Make SMS a Useful Tool in Your Sales Outreach Process (Not All of it)
While SMS is a great outreach method for your sales team, you know what they say about too much of a good thing.
And if it's not clear by now, unsolicited cold texting is almost guaranteed to land you in hot water—use it sparingly as a tool for engaging your existing prospects (warm texting) and for moving deals further through your sales funnel.
Remember: sending too many text messages can get your number flagged as spam. Instead of bulk blasting your whole contact list with cold text messages, use them thoughtfully in the right moment, and when it makes sense for that particular contact.
Ready to start using text messaging in your sales process? Try Close for free and see how one-click texting can enable your sales team to engage faster and better with prospects.