Here’s how to start a conversation (and book a meeting) with almost any prospect in your database or CRM using the “Foot-in-the-Door” email prospecting method.

This simple, 5-step cold email technique works especially well for sales development reps (SDRs), where email personalization is already a major part of many outbound sales efforts.

I’m Jack Reamer of, a B2B lead-generation agency that sends cold email. In this guest post, you’ll learn a special technique to email:

  • CEOs
  • Marketing VPs
  • Industry influencers
  • HR directors
  • Elon Musk
  • Your favorite podcast host
  • Anyone else who’s inbox is a total magnet for “traditional” cold emails

Skeptical? Read on:

This 5 sentence “foot-in-the-door” email helped me and Jeremy Chatelaine, founder of (below) l and 19 meetings with startup founders in Tokyo in just 10 days.



Mind you…

  • We had ZERO connections in Japan
  • We didn’t speak Japanese. (Only 12% of the country is fluent in English.)
  • “Traditional” cold email is illegal in Japan. We could only use public emails or contact forms provided on company websites!
  • And we only had 2 weeks to book 10+ meetings

In this post, you’ll get the exact email copy used and stats from the campaign that landed us those 19 meetings. (Steal this exact process to book meetings with your future customers.)

Why Tokyo?

By now, you’re probably wondering why we decided to test this email in a not-so-english-speaking city that throws people in jail (up to a year) and fines them ¥30 million for sending email without permission.

Well, there’s 2 reasons.

Reason 1: To prove this cold-email technique works

If this email template works with busy start-up founders in Tokyo, then there’s a good chance it will work for you and your list. Remember, by law, we could only send this message to publicly available “team” emails like [email protected] and basic contact forms on websites. The odds were stacked against us.

FYI, here’s the details on Japan’s spam laws:



Reason #2) We were filming a cold email course

Tokyo is an incredible city. And anyone who’s been will understand why Tokyo was an easy choice when it came down to picking a city to shoot our cold email course. (Jeremy’s based in Zurich, I’m in San Diego.)

Problem was, the trip was a last-minute decision, which explains why we only had 2 weeks to book our meetings.

Download the free ebook: The Superhero Life of Your Prospecting Email

What is a “foot-in-the-door” email?

verified emails are important because marketers can't email with high bounce rates


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.”


A researcher called people in Indiana and asked them if, hypothetically, they would volunteer to spend 3 hours collecting for the American Cancer Society.

Three days later, a second researcher called the same people and actually requested help for this organization.

31% agreed to help.

Note: This is much higher than the 4% of a similar group of people who volunteered to help when approached directly.


So the “foot-in-the-door” email is a conversation starter. Period.

It doesn’t sell or ask for times to meet. Instead, it’s designed to open to door to a conversation that leads to a meeting/partnership/interview/sale/etc.

Here’s the cold email copy we used



This email worked for two reasons:

  1. It was insanely easy to say yes to. I mean, who would say no to someone asking to exchange a few emails with a fellow founder?
  2. People who agreed to exchange emails with us were far more likely to agree to a an in-person meeting compared to people who were asked for a meeting during the first message.

How did it perform?

Total emails sent: 90
Total website contact form “sends”: 217

Open rate: 76%
Reply rate: 26%
Positive reply rate: 15.6%
Number of meetings booked: 19

Note: We couldn’t track the open rate for messages sent via contact form.

Download our free study: Why Didn’t They Buy? A Deep-Dive into the Buyer Persona

How to use the foot-in-the-door email in your business

Okay, so you know what the foot-in-the-door email is. Check.

And you have an accurate list of verified emails to send it to. Check.

So how do you ethically use it in your business?

Think about a simple, almost-impossible to deny CTA that you can ask your leads. Then keep the conversation going after they reply and transition to a larger request. (Such as a meeting, phone call, demo, or interview.)

IMPORTANT: Be upfront about your intentions with your prospects. Don’t disguise yourself as a potential customer just to get a conversation going, because it’s untrue, and you’ll start the relationship off on the wrong foot.

Cold email template examples

A few examples of CTA’s you can use:

If you sell B2B software

“Hi {{FirstName}},

I noticed that you’re using {{competing software tool}}. Are you happy with the way it {{main benefit}}?”


P.S. I’m asking because my company actually developed a similar tool that helps {{solve this problem}}, and I’d love hear your feedback on this.


If you’re a recruiter looking for new clients

“Hi {{FirstName}},

It looks like {{company}} has been recruiting a new {{job-title}} for a little over a month now. I’ve had some success with filling this position for similar companies like {{example}} and {{example}} this year.

Would you mind if I sent over 2 quick ideas you can use to improve your listing and attract a few more qualified candidates?



If you’re looking to land an interview on a podcast

“I’m subscribed to {{podcast title}} and saw on iTunes today that your most downloaded podcast episode was about {{topic}}. (Loved the part about {{podcast content}}, by the way.)

Would you ever consider doing a cast on a similar topic?”



If you sell sales consulting

“{{FirstName}}, congrats on your promotion to Sales VP!

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, workshop, etc.?)

Personally, I’ve gotten a ton of value out of {{book}} & {{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 help them hit their numbers. Happy to share some notes/tactics/ideas with you as well.”


Putting it together

This email alone didn’t land the meetings singlehandedly. But it DID give us dozens of founders who were happy to chat with us.

Once we got our first reply, the emails were no longer “cold” and we could easily continue the conversation via email (or sometimes Skype) where we’d ask for an in-person meeting.

So, will this “foot-in-the-door email” work in your industry?

Only one way to find out.

Happy emailing.

Bonus: The 2 follow-up emails that we used in this Tokyo campaign, plus a quick PDF summary of our entire cold email strategy can be downloaded here. Use it as a reference to write your next cold email campaign.


Let us know when you’re ready to start winning.



Verified phone numbers and emails—straight to the decision maker.


Jack Reamer
About the author

Jack Reamer

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.