I have a file of email solicitations beginning with “Hey Babette” or “Hello There.” That file grows daily. The remainder of the email is an unsolicited pitch.
Most of you on the receiving end of these messages immediately hit “Delete.” I would too. Except I’m in the business of creating sustainable businesses and startups.
I read all of these emails, then I file them away. Unfortunately, these emails make great examples of bad business etiquette. I use them when I coach and consult.
Do you start out your email communications with “Hey?” Please STOP!
You are developing some bad business etiquette habits. Tossing that “Hey” in my direction reinforces that “Hey” is okay to use as a general solicitation.
It isn’t okay. “Hey” and “Hello There” are generic-sounding salutations.
Yes, you are trying to come across as casual. (Hint: “Good morning” has a pleasant ring, doesn’t it?? but it doesn’t suffice when your message is generated by a marketing automation tool.)
“Hey” and “Hello There” are easily perceived as disrespectful greetings in many professional contexts. Is this the outcome you want to achieve if you are trying to engage a prospect in doing business with you or funding your venture?
It’s just bad business etiquette that can have serious repercussions on your brand.
I collaborate daily with over 100 professional colleagues. We have gotten to know, and respect, each other pretty well over the past 5 years or so. We refrain from using “Hey” or “Hello There” as a salutation, especially when we are requesting support from each other for a blog post or a business endeavor.
Some of you reading this post are puzzled by why your casual language is a red flag for many business owners. That’s the lingo you use and hear every day. What’s wrong with that??
In your mind, your email solicitation strategy is an example of good business etiquette. Why? Because – to you – the tone you project:
- is engaging, refreshing and contemporary;
- speaks to me the same way you address your peers;
- softens your unsolicited solicitation;
- pitches what your products and services can do for my company;
- requests that you want me to do something for you (without connecting the dots about what your services can do for my company); and
- tells me that you have no clue whatsoever whether I am anywhere close to being your target market.
But what about me? In my mind, you are assuming:
- we have a collegial relationship (except that you have not yet earned that relationship and aren’t likely to once I delete your message);
- since you were recommended to me by an unnamed colleague in ___ professional field, this anonymous referral legitimizes your request (Any colleague referring someone to me would already have contacted me to give me the heads up on that referral . Why can’t you use my colleague’s name?);
- I already know who you are (because I will, indeed, find out who you are after I receive this type of email and before I file it away); and
- I am impressed by who you are, which undoubtedly will motivate me to respond to your email and sign up for your offer.
Why would you expect me to take my time to “ping” you back (yeah, that’s another casual term that’s used in these email solicitations)?
Your poor business etiquette negatively impacts my perception of your brand and your business acumen.
Hey there. It’s time to take a walk over to the other side of the business table.
Depending on where we all sit, we see the same things differently. Perhaps it’s time to change your perspective and win more customers in the process.
That choice remains firmly in your court.
Babette Ten Haken is Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC. She catalyzes business transition, startup growth and professional development. This post is expanded from the original appearing on LinkedIn and is reproduced with this author’s permission. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, focuses on collaborative value creation strategies.