Bad direct solicitation is inappropriate on every level. Don’t get me wrong, cold calling is still appropriate and effective but there’s a way to do it that does not come across as in your face and with a sense of harassment to the recipient.
For example, I received the following email from a company for a B2B solicitation. Let’s call her Kari.
October 14, 2019
My name is [Kari] and I am the head of sales of [XYZ] platform.
We have created a service that allows event organizers to successfully launch promo campaigns on social media in one click. Our special algorithms are aimed at a very precise targeting which means that your event ad will be seen only by your target audience.
We work to save your time and money.
We have different kinds of promo packages that you can select from, starting from only 300$.
When would be the best time for you to set up a call this week so that I could tell you what we can do for you?
Head of Sales
Are you kidding me? “…so that I could tell you what we can do for you?” That’s presumptuous.
I didn’t reply because I never reply when someone makes it all about them.
Then I received a second email:
October 17, 2019
I’m guessing you were too busy and may have missed my previous email. Just wanted to check-up if you have given our service a thought?
How about we set up a call this week so I can tell you about us and answer the questions you might have?—
Head of Sales
Ok. I think I just felt my head spin. Again – so presumptuous it almost leans toward the highest form of arrogance. At this point, I don’t care if you’re offering me gold bars for pennies on the dollar.
Furthemore, I’m not sure what “head of sales” training Kari attended but I can assure you it wasn’t from a highly accredited or credentialed training program.
Frankly, it sounds desperate. And green. And inexperienced. And snarky. And I get it. I used to be young and green too, but c’mon – with all the technology advances and proper sale trainings that are available at our fingertips – I expect way more.
I did finally reply:
October 19, 2019Direct solicitation about products and services without even a suggestion from your organization to get to know us or our business goals or strategies is way outside our business model.But thanks for reaching out.Ginger Terrell, Area Director
To date (October 22), I haven’t heard back from her. And I don’t expect to.
It reminds me a little of Pretty Woman. Remember when she’s on Rodeo Drive trying to buy a dress and the sales women treated her so badly they basically ran her out of the store driving her to frustration and tears? It wasn’t that their dresses weren’t needed. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money to buy. The bottom line was they made an assumption and because of that incorrect assumption they literally lost thousands of dollars in sales and commissions that day.
Photo credit: Colton Sturgeon, Unsplash
How many of us have lost opportunities in multiple forms because we incorrectly assessed a situation? How many times have we had to back up and re-calibrate so that we finally send the right message?
What Kari doesn’t know about me is that while I personally may not have used her service, I know a ton of event planners, and I could have referred her multiple times over. But because she approached me with an incorrect assumption, I will never trust her with my clients and colleagues.
So what could Kari have done differently to catch my attention that would have encouraged me to setup a call with her? (Which, by the way, I absolutely would have had she approached me differently.)
First, let’s revisit her original email with my comments added to it:
Hello, [she didn’t acknowledge where she met me or got my name from]
My name is [Kari] and I am the head of sales of [XYZ] platform. [I don’t really care about her title]
We have created a service that allows event organizers to successfully launch promo campaigns on social media in one click. Our special algorithms are aimed at a very precise targeting which means that your event ad will be seen only by your target audience. [Good to know]
We work to save your time and money. We have different kinds of promo packages that you can select from, starting from only 300$. [Cost should never be presented in an introductory email. Besides, is that a one-time fee? Monthly?]
When would be the best time for you to set up a call this week so that I could tell you what we can do for you? [First, she assumes I’m available this week. Second if her platform is that sophisticated, surely she has a scheduler she could have included in the email. Finally, I’m not interested in her telling me what she can do for me when she knows nothing about me, my company, or how we operate!]
Now let’s go back to the basics of what Zig Ziglar taught us, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want.” We must remember that sales is simply a:
♻️ mutually beneficial exchange
Charging full speed ahead like a bull in a china shop and strutting around like a peacock displaying our beautiful plumage may result in a few sales here and there, but the attrition rates will be much higher. We’ll have to work that much harder to replace sales than if we’d just slowed down long enough to find our ideal client, develop a relationship, and then continued to nurture the relationship over time.
Let’s look at an email that would have grabbed my attention and quite possibly have resulted in a very different blog post today about a great sales conversation I had:
Good morning, Ginger!
I found your upcoming seminar on Eventbrite and was intrigued by your topic regarding how to network in towns that are notorious for the number of events they have. Frankly, I’m a little intimidated and overwhelmed by all the choices and tend to not attend anything as a result.
Would you be open to a short conversation about how I might choose a few events that would be right for me and what I’m trying to accomplish in my business? Conversely, I’m curious how your business operates and what events you find helpful in reaching your sales goals.
If you are open to a conversation, either send me your calendar availability or you can select a day and time from mine that works best for you at [calendar url].
I look forward to hearing from you!
See the difference? Now the ball is in my court. She has acknowledged what I do and given it value. She has asked for my time to briefly help her with a challenge, and she has invited an equal exchange where we can learn about each other’s business and how we might help each other. I know she’s going to talk about her event platform but the approach is completely different and much more inviting and collaborative.
In conclusion, let’s think through our sales processes before we blindly send emails to potential customers and clients. Our approach is everything. Dropping the peacock mentality and replacing it with a genuine curiosity and the vulnerability that Brene’ Brown refers to will absolutely set us apart and draw more people into our circles.