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Tips, Tricks, & Advice

Social Experiment - OOO

Social Experiment - OOO

by John Roman

2 weeks ago

I love a good social experiment. I love a good social experiment even more when something from it surprises me. I took the first week of March off completely to spend time with my wife and our newborn son. During this time, I put an Out of Office message up. 

Yep, I called out the salespeople and supplied them with my baby registry.

What would they do? Would they all send me gifts? So many salespeople offer a gift card or some other prize if you agree to meet with them so I was curious about how this would convert.

I told myself that if any salespeople bought me a gift, I would engage with them and have a conversation. 

Now for some added context, I get about 60 non-automated emails a day. You know, an email where there is an actual conversation occurring between 2 or more people. Out of those 60, about 15-20 of them are sales prospecting emails. Yes, I realize many are automated, but I am keeping them in this bucket for this breakdown. So, in total, 5 days of the OOO brought in around 300 emails of which 75-100 of them were sales emails. Full disclosure, many of these emails, including the sales ones, are from the same people.

In total, my OOO generated 6 baby registry gifts and 1 rather interesting approach from a sales professional. Let’s break down the 6 gifts and we will save the interesting approach for the end.

Out of the 6 gifts…

  • 3 were not salespeople or someone trying to sell me something.  They were simply friends that I had met through work.
  • 1 was from a vendor/partner of ours that we currently work with. This was a nice touch and super appreciated.
  • 1 was from a vendor/partner that we already work with in a limited capacity. I was actually unaware we were working with them at all up until the gift and email. They offer additional services and wanted to discuss them. Taking it a step further, at the same time they bought the baby gift, they also signed up for a BattlBox membership. I engaged with the person and traded several emails back and forth answering some questions. Ultimately, we have solutions in place for their other solutions which make it nearly impossible for them to attain that part of the business. It was a great back-and-forth and should anything change with the other parts of the business, I absolutely would reach back out to them to have them quote stuff out.
  • The last 1 was not an existing vendor/partner. This was someone prospecting and trying to get our business. To keep up my end of the agreement I made with myself, I engaged in email with them and even had a phone call. Great back and forth but bad timing for them. We onboarded with their competitor at the start of 2024 and things are going great with them. Ironically, the 1 gift from the existing vendor/partner I mentioned above, was the competitor we are using. I told him he should follow up with me in a few months and I can let him know if the relationship with their competitor is still as healthy as it is today.

Overall, I was very surprised that only 2 sales professionals prospecting me bought gifts. Out of the sales prospecting emails I received during that week, there were 14 unique offers sent to me (sales professionals offering me something if I agreed to meet with them). These ranged in monetary value between $50 and $250. I did not and I will not respond to any of those offers, as I never do. Occasionally if one seems like a potentially good solution and the offer is decent, I will send them to a teammate to see if they want to receive the benefit of taking the call. Lost opportunity for the folks already offering something since they have budget.

Now, let’s go through the interesting approach. There is greatness in here but also a mistake so let’s dissect.

He followed up with me my first day back in the office which I can respect. If I am going to critique this, I would suggest not following up with a prospect their first day back as it is probably a hectic day and the chance of responding is quite low compared to waiting until their second or third day back.

He leads with the ‘congratulations’, this is a nice approach. Takes my guard down, and shows that he is a human being and this is not an automation flow. He then goes down the approach of a quid pro quo, meet with me and I will get you a gift. Now, I understand he does NOT know that if he had just bought me the gift, I would have met with him. I just hate this approach of offering a gift for meeting and it’s even more of a turn-off that he is referencing a specific gift from my registry.

Further insight: Had he just lead with the ‘congratulatory’ piece and went straight to a pitch with no mention of the registry, I would have likely responded with a ‘No thank you, and the reason’.

He follows up the next day and leads with a mention of something I commented on a LinkedIn post.  I LOVE THIS.  I respect the follow-up and I love that he is doing some research on me.  Again, he then goes to the registry gift and quid pro quo path. 

Further insight: Both of his emails start so strong and I love the approach. If someone takes this approach sans the quid pro quo, I am likely engaging with them and at least explaining why I am not going to meet. If there is any trouble with the incumbent solution, I am likely taking the call.

This concludes the OOO Social Experiment. For anyone wondering, internally, we set the total over/under of gifts at 3. The over had it with 6.


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