I find myself in a unique position. I spent about 7 years in the B2B direct sales space. I started off as an individual contributor but spent the majority of those 7 years building sales teams. I built some great ones, with the majority of those years always being in charge of the #1 sales team in that organization. Even though I transitioned from B2B to D2C (not fully, I still have vested interests in a few B2B companies), I will always have a part of me that is a sales guy at heart. Because of this, I have a soft spot for sales professionals. I try to respond to the good ones even when the answer is normally ‘Not Interested’, because a ‘No’ is just as important as a ‘Yes’.
Being involved in more than a handful of businesses, I get reached out to by salespeople. I get around 75 messages a day. 75 messages! I feel like that is a lot, perhaps you are reading this and get more than that. The vast majority are email and LinkedIn messages. I went from being the guy leading the charge on targeting C-levels, to the targeted. Since I have been on both sides, my insight is unique. One thing for sure, most of these 75 messages are complete garbage.
In this series, I will be breaking down some of the common themes and similarities I see. Occasionally, I will share something that impresses me as well.
Example 1: Marketing Tool
This did NOT get a response from me.
The Good: It’s short and there is an attempt at uniqueness and rapport building. They took the time to make the prospecting email unique, but they failed at making a connection.
The Bad: Give me some sort of data point or reason. Give me a compelling reason to want to know more! How much revenue did it generate, what was the ROI, tell me something!
The Ugly: Name dropping. It is definitely a best practice in prospecting emails, but that’s not where the masses fail. The masses fail with their selection. If you are going to include a list of brands, you should probably ensure they are still customers and happy references. It needs to be a strategic list where the prospect knows the brands but does not ‘know’ the brands unless they are fanatics about your product. In this case, one of the companies was not happy with the service and was already planning to leave. You have not even gotten me into your funnel yet and already shot yourself in the foot.
Example 2: Marketing Agency
No response and did not even read it fully before now.
The Good: There was an attachment with more information. Unfortunately, it was super high level with nothing compelling, no data details, and some of the case studies were 3 years old.
The Bad: Name dropping some very large companies. You have to be careful here. While most prospects will know how successful most of these brands are, these companies all have very large budgets, pay a premium on things, and likely are ‘OK’ with acquiring customers un profitably. Sure, these are assumptions, but probably pretty accurate. This email just screams we want to charge you way more than we should because we think we can.
The Ugly: Stop. Mentioning. Covid-19. Uncertain times??? Just stop it. Know your audience, the vast majority of my portfolio saw a major uptick in these ‘uncertain times’. Also, a free audit?!?!?! Such a gesture of free will!!! So kind of you to analyze our data so that you can 100% of the time come back and say you would do better. Get out of here with that crap. I have been known to accept these before and simply share the audit/recommendations/missed opportunities with my incumbent.
Example 3: TikTok Agency
No response and this identical email was sent to multiple people in multiple organizations I am a part of (same email: http://prntscr.com/tm5q65). I did follow the link in hopes of seeing something groundbreaking. Only because it's TikTok related, a platform I want to conquer (from a marketing standpoint, my dance skills are not up to par). Also, they sent this one last week and sent to multiple people/companies as well: http://prntscr.com/tm5saj
The Good: They threw some numbers out to me. They did this both times. In the first email, they included a link with an example, which is awesome. I actually clicked the link (well, I copied the link and removed the tracking part of it). Out of the 3 examples, this came the closest to getting my attention and getting me to respond.
The Bad: These are BOLD and BIG numbers and the great thing about data, not all of its relevant and you can make data tell whatever story you want (within reason). Over promising and under delivering seems to be the salesperson norm and not something I want to see immediately when hearing from a salesperson. When I clicked the TikTok link I saw all the fan videos of that original sound. There was a lot which was impressive, however, nothing about the watch brand in the videos and the original sound has nothing about the watch brand either. I finally saw the watch brand tagged about 40 videos in, but it was tagged in a video that was not even their brand watch (and a watch they would not want to be associated with). I did it not see it tagged again, but I went to the brand's TikTok page and saw them using the sound as well so knew they were the one that paid this agency. The sound was used for 'Fan Videos' because the song beats and follows the normal playbook for sound trends on TikTok. Again, where is the benefit to the watch brand in a song going viral (semi-viral technically by TikTok standards) if it does not mention or point to the brand. I digress.
The Ugly: Couple things here. Perhaps if you are gonna send a link and get some 'pre-sales funnel engagement', shoot your shot correctly. don't send me to the Original Sound link that is littered with 'irrelevant to the campaign' Fan Videos. You wasted my time. The time you were only given because I give a little extra love to all things marketing related to TikTok. Insult to injury, you are just playing the numbers game with identical emails to my team and obviously just swapping out our company name for the identical one you sent to the other company. Not a good look. The first 2 examples can recover with a better approach in their next email, this one is DOA.