3 tips for crafting emails that cold-pitch SaaS to restaurants (and beyond)
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter email.” Sorry, Mark Twain. I just couldn’t resist.
Selling to restaurants is not easy, and is not for the faint of heart. This industry has a penchant for sniffing out inauthenticity fast, and is “zero-tolerance” when it comes to pesky spam emails.
But quirks aside, the majority of the success I’ve found cold-selling SaaS to restaurants comes from email provided it is targeted, intentional outreach that is as thoughtful as it is meaningful. I’ve boiled down 8 years of direct sales and 6 years consulting restaurant tech companies into thoughts and recommendations I hope will help you write emails that captivate, and quickly.
Let’s dig in, MarketMindsTM.
First, a quick aside on buyer mentality. I’m a firm believer that there are 2 buyer mindsets for the subset of our audience that will actually want to talk to us. It’s important that we keep them in mind when we draft our v1 emails:
The 2 Buying Mindsets: When Buyers Want to Talk to Sellers
- Future-seeking → Buyers are looking for possibilities to drive stronger business results.
- Problem-solving → Buyers are looking for a solution to fix what’s broken in their restaurant.
Not everyone is going to be receptive to what we’re pitching, I think that’s clear. Similarly, not everyone knows they have a problem, or knows the problem they have has a solution.
With this in mind, our primary goal should be to find our future-seeking or problem-solving audience, or to send our prospects content that forces their brain into one of those two mindsets quickly and efficiently. To do that, we need a plan.
Oh look… I think I have one.
Brevity isn’t just a virtue, it’s a necessity
How we organize our thoughts in writing is just as important as the words we choose to convey our message. Now, while I can’t blanketly help you with your corporate narrative (value prop, positioning statements, proof points, etc.) I can help you structure a crisp email that is clear and concise. To do so, we’ll use the “be brief, be bright, be gone” approach to suss out owners and operators who are future-seeking, problem-solving, or both.
 Be brief
Years ago, someone told me to make sure my cold emails resemble a baseball card when viewed on a mobile device, and I still think about that today. To fit my content inside that constraint, my email structure typically looks something like this:
- Open with two sentences: one stating something I know about their business, and one with a hypothesized value proposition tailored to a specific business need.
- Include 3 bullets with proof points, ideally expressed in numbers (wherever possible).
- Close with a CTA that’s easy to respond to using words in writing.
Note here that structurally the key is to front-load your value prop into your opener as opposed to burying it after formalities or menu items you like or something you think you have in common. To truly influence open rates you need to put value in the email’s preview.
Warning: Do not send attachments, do not include more than one link that you can track if they click, and do not ask for time on the phone in your first email. The goal of this email is awareness and consideration. Sending your Calendly link for an operator to blindly commit to a phone call at this stage is asking a lot.
 Be bright
Crafting your email opener to resonate with future-seeking or problem-solving mindsets can significantly improve your chances of engagement. For starters, focus your research and value prop on surfacing a specific problem you believe your prospect may have, ideally right now, and what it could be costing them. It kinda goes without saying, but these first two sentences need to be about them, not you (or your company).
Please reread that last sentence. I cannot tell you how many email previews I see that selfishly pitch the company and solution in line 1 with no regard for me or my business needs. Please don’t do this. Email deleted on sight.
Perfecting these first 2 sentences is crucial, will likely take trial and error, and will require significant ongoing investment on your part. For reference, I personally believe spending up to 30 minutes on each introductory email to ensure it’s customized with a targeted, clearly defined value prop and relevant, fast-fact proof points is not only justified, but required to break through the “here’s someone else trying to sell something to me” default mentality.
 Be gone
Restaurants have a lot going on. Sometimes there’s literally a fire in the kitchen. Once you’ve sent your first hyper-targeted email and a handful of follow-ups reiterating your CTA, it’s time to be respectful of the fact that answering “coming in cold” emails is undoubtedly a low priority for owners and operators.
Separately, be careful with phone calls. No doubt brute-force dialing can yield results, but unless you’re selling to late majority buyers I simply prefer emailing when and wherever possible.
Plus, even if you think you’re being sensitive to their business by only calling pre- or post-shift, the assumption is that you’re interrupting something. Software is basically never a first call close, and the odds of someone being happy you bothered them by phone, when expressed as a percentage and rounded to the nearest whole number, is 0%. I prefer using emails so I can be methodical with my wordsmanship, respectful of what anyone working for a restaurant group should focus on most (building sales), and put my message in front of them when they’re most likely to be receptive to it (when checking emails).
Yes, I’m set in my ways. But after networking and emails to start a convo, cold calling is a distant third.
Here’s my cold email template
If you’ve made it this far, here’s a gift. Below is a clearly oversimplified template you can use to mock up an email and start picking it apart. It’s brief, it’s bright, and it’s BYE. Hope it helps:
————– EMAIL TEMPLATE ↓ ————–
Subject: Toast POS → [Problem]?
Hi [First Name],
I saw [Concept] is using Toast*, which makes sense → tons of emerging brands are. I know some Toast customers struggle with [specific problem] which can really [what it costs them].
[Software] built a solution that [Logo] uses to help:
- Proof point 1 (hard ROI → should have a # or %)
- Proof point 2 (hard ROI → should have a # or %)
- Proof point 3 (soft ROI → something that inspires emotion or surfaces an existing pain)
Is [reiterate specific problem] something that’s on your radar to review in the next few months? If so, I’d love to earn a call.
*Note: I validated Toast on your website, I avoid calls to be respectful of your (and your restaurant operator’s) time.
Is this the only email you can send that will be successful? No. Is any of this rocket science? Also no.
But, I remain convinced that the “be brief, be bright, be gone” mentality forces me to KISS. Get straight to the point with a compelling argument, and then back off to let operators be operators.
As you incorporate this structure into your outbound, keep your eyes peeled for things like faster responses (even if it’s a “not today”), better engagement rates, and ideally heightened awareness and consideration. Cut through the clutter, make a memorable impact, and move on to the next.
And shoot me feedback → firstname.lastname@example.org. Curious if this helps you earn more conversations.