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Soft CTA vs Hard CTA

When doing cold email outreach our objective in the first email is to pique our prospect’s interest and push them towards an action. The action in the vast majority of cases that we’re all aiming towards is a call or demo. We aim to book that meeting and push them through the sales funnel. In order to get the prospect to take the desired action we use what is commonly referred to as a Call to Action (CTA). 

CTAs can take many forms. However broadly speaking CTAs are generally grouped into Hard and Soft. Hard CTAs are those that explicitly ask the prospect for the call or meeting. Such CTAs are explicit in their request for the prospect’s time.
Here’s an example of a Hard CTA: Do you have 30 minutes on Tuesday or Thursday next week to jump on a call?

What to consider when using a Hard CTA:

  • It’s a faster way to know if a prospect is interested
  • It’s straight to the point and honest about the goal
  • It’s a big ask and the knee-jerk reaction from many people is to say No
  • It puts a lot more pressure on the first email to pique interest sufficiently that they’ll give up their time straight away

A soft CTA on the other hand doesn’t explicitly ask for the prospect’s time. It instead is aimed at pushing the conversation forward and gauging interest without pushing for a meeting (until there’s greater buy-in).

Here’s an example of a Soft CTA: Mind if I share some success stories with you?

What to consider when using a Soft CTA:

  • It can simply prolong the efforts before hearing the No
  • It’s a lower friction ask and therefore easier to get a positive response
  • More engagement gives you more opportunities to create buy-in before asking for a meeting
  • It’s easier for conversations to move forward while still resulting in a No. This means more work

The correct approach for any sales team depends on preference and the sector, deal size and persona relevant to their sale. While the common practice nowadays is to use the Soft CTA, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. As people receive many cold emails asking for time, the Soft CTA helps lower the friction and the “Zone of Resistance” of the prospect. It’s worth noting however that there are ways to adapt the Hard CTA in such a way that it focuses on what’s in it for the prospect if they agree to the meeting. Therefore focusing more on the expected benefit/value. This can help lower the friction associated with the Hard CTA. 

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