It’s the new year and companies are building their sales pipelines. Like you, my Inbox is filling with email blasts from people I don’t know trying to sell me stuff I may not need.
Because I do what I do, I end up reading through many of these emails. I try to figure out the logic of whatever the sender (usually a small business or solopreneur) thought they had in mind by sending these obvious email blasts out to their contact list.
If you, as a small business or sole proprietor of a company, are engaged in the activities I just described, here is what your Ready-Fire-Aim “sales prospecting” strategy looks like from the customer’s perspective:
1) If I don’t know who you are, I will delete your email without reading it. Even if it has a catchy subject line. I don’t have the time to slog through my Inbox in the first place. If I don’t know you, then I assume you are a) a spammer or b) being indiscriminate and naive in your email marketing strategy.
2) If I decide to read your email, I will check you out on LinkedIn and Google first. If you are an individual who has recently connected with me, and immediately feels this connection entitles you to send me email solicitations for your business, I will not only delete your email. I most likely will purge you from my list of Connections. It’s obvious you were only interested in connecting with me for the purposes of list-building for your business.
3) If I read your email, and it contains some link to some offering, video, etc. that I am supposed to look at, I won’t follow that link. It’s the double-whammy of the unknown: I don’t know who you are and now you are leading me somewhere else on the internet to “find out more” about what I don’t know. You are making yourself into spam, if you aren’t already a spammer.
4) If your email content starts off with a greeting and then morphs into perhaps a poem (I received such an email today) and then contains text which represents at least 50% of the content in your website (just in case I need any one of all the products and services you provide), and you end your email with “I have a lot more to share but I wanted to keep this note short [!!!]” and in closing “PS – Please remember me to those you know who could use my help, and introduce us. Thanks.” you have just asked me to use my list of connections to become part of your chain letter mass marketing program. Reread point #2.
5) If you send me a follow-up email that has a salutation and simply a one-liner like this: “I just wanted to follow up on my previous email from last week in case you had missed it!” reread point #3. In most cases this is pure spam. For all of you technopreneurs who like to collaborate via open sourcing, I’ve blogged about this before.
Think twice about commoditizing whatever value you bring to your customers by using one-size-fits-all, generalist types of prospecting and email marketing tactics like these. Please educate yourselves! Take the time to understanding your target markets. Establish a relationship with key decision makers within market segments. Understand the value that you could bring to these markets before you tarnish your personal brand strategy with indiscriminate email blasts.
Otherwise you are selling in the middle of a business development cycle you were never a part of in the first place.
Your prospects’ time is more valuable than that. And, in fact, so is yours. Respect both.
Babette Ten Haken provides technical people and other sellers a solid strategy for how to explain a product, its benefits, and its value in ways that buyers can easily understand and sellers can comfortably present. She gets people together who are often on opposite sides of the table, like engineers and sales people or entrepreneurs and investors. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, works with technology-intensive entrepreneurs and manufacturers, focusing on revenue-generating business development strategies to take your business to the next level. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? was named 2012 Finalist, Top Sales & Marketing Awards.