Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17
June 24th, 2015
I received a sales email today from a salesperson hoping that I could help him out. He wanted me, his target prospect, to do him a favor. And then he goes on to tell me about his needs and then skips to wanting to give some unknown person at my company a presentation. Normally I would have just ignored an email like this, but I couldn't stop thinking about how freaking ass backwards this was. Is this how people really do sales?
I've included the email so you can see what I saw. I couldn't believe my eyes. I've seen some really bad prospecting emails, but this was one of the worst. (I've blurred out the name and company to protect the guilty.)
I looked the guy up on LinkedIn and I was really hoping that I would see young kid right out of school, but what I found was a guy in his 30s with at least 10 years in the field. He also had companies like ADP and Indeed on his resume. I'm surprised that with all of this experience, he hasn't picked up the basics of sales. It's not about you, it's about helping your prospect and providing them value.
What I fear is that he didn't even write the email. Perhaps this was a template provided by his new company and he was told to use it. What kind of response do you think he would get?
I decided to do my best Rick Roberge impression and sent the following reply:
I hope he takes my reply with my real intentions in mind. I wasn't trying to be a jerk telling him to stop spamming me, I really wanted to help him. I feel bad telling him that I don't care about him, but as a prospect, it's true. Why should I care about helping him? I'm running a business, I'm too busy to help self-serving salespeople get what they want.
He clearly didn't follow the SNAP principles. Here are some snippets from Chapter 7: First Decision Overview Jill Konrath's book SNAP Selling:
Customer’s Perspective: Your prospects are busily going about their lives and their work with an already overloaded calendar. They’re not waiting for your call. They’re just trying to get done the things that have to be done. Here’s what these frazzled customers are thinking:
“I don’t need any more interruptions.”
“I need to protect my time at all costs.”
“Salespeople are a waste of time.”
Risks and Fears: Your customers worry that you’ll waste their time and, if they try to dismiss you, that you’ll keep bugging them forever.
What They Hate:
Self-serving salespeople, passionate entrepreneurs, and process-obsessed consultants;
Sellers who don’t invest time researching their organization, issues, challenges, needs, or concerns prior to initiating contact; and
Rookies who clearly don’t know anything.
I don't think our prospect would pass Jill's SNAP check. If you haven't read this book yet, it's phenomenal and I highly suggest to pick up a copy.
How I would write this prospecting email.
I could sit here on my high horse and talk about all that is wrong here, but certainly it would be a lot more valuable if I were to follow that up with my suggestions for improvement. So here we go. If this were my prospecting email, I would try something a little more like this:
I would start with something that creates a warm opening, like the following:
Something that makes the prospect feel good:"I noticed that you're a growing marketing agency, congratulations on all of the success."
Use of a mutual connection:"A mutual connection of ours, Pete Caputa, mentioned that you've recently added new members to your team."
Something that proves that you've done some homework before reaching out to me:"I noticed on your website that you're hiring for several positions and plan to expand."
Then I would start helping by providing some valuable context as to why I'm reaching out:
"My experience with working with growing agencies tells me that many of the agencies that ramp up fast miss critical steps to ensuring long-term success for their employees. They simply don't have the time and resources needed to provide the right level of attention to their benefits, payroll, and risk management. They also want to implement a 401(k) plan, a culture code, and attractive benefits and perks but either don't have the time or expertise to get it done. Lastly, many of them fear that they don't have all of their bases covered and might be exposed to unnecessary risks. Sadly, many of them are exposed and the risks become realities. Is this something that's a frustration at your agency or something that you're trying to overcome?"
Sometimes I like to stop right there and wait for the dialog to happen naturally, other times I would follow that up with some credibility:
"You're not alone. We've helped dozens of agencies just like yours and it's a lot easier than you might think. Here's how we help XYZ Agency in Wallingford, CT improve their benefit offering and actually REDUCED their HR spend by consolidating (insert case study link here.)"
Notice that I still haven't mentioned my product or service. Again, it's not about me (the seller), it's about them (the prospect.)
Lastly, I would finish with a helpful call to action:
"I'm happy to hop on a call with you to discuss how you could possibly do the same. Let me know if you think it would be beneficial and I'll set it up."
I'm not claiming to be a complete expert here, but I truly believe an email template like this used when contacting agency leaders like me would be a heck of a lot more effective at generating interest in a conversation. I probably would have responded.
Well, I guess I did respond.
What suggestions do you have for my new salesperson friend? Let me know with a comment below.
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