This sales guy cold blasted me 6 times, asking if I was interested in his services.
On his most recent follow-up, I decided that I would follow up with him to ask if he could unsubscribe me. Then I set a 7-day boomerang (one of my favorite services) to come back if he still hadn’t responded.
He didn’t. So I’ve followed up with him to see if he’s been able to stop the spam.
I don’t believe in cold calling for a variety of reasons: you are wasting your time interrupting people who aren’t interested, it makes you look desperate for sales, you’re dumping spam into the ecosystem, and it creates negative word of mouth.
Sales are important- don’t get me wrong- but we must be smarter about it. Be consultative, and create value. Make it about them, not you.
Are you building a relationship in your email campaigns, or pointlessly spamming in hopes of a sale?
Some people call it consultative selling– to add value via your expertise, as opposed to regurgitating what anyone can find online already in your marketing materials.
But it’s more than that.
You have to be a committed ambassador of the thing you stand for.
It’s that passion that causes people to convert– enough to practice “rational ignorance”, which is to make a smart choice without having to do the arduous research.
When people practice “rational ignorance”, they willingly forego the mental exercise of further evaluation, since they trust your brand.
And if you believe that your brand is the sum of what others say about you, as opposed to what you might say about yourself, then it makes sense.
We’ve called this inbound marketing, content marketing, SEO, public relations, social media marketing, and word-of-mouth marketing.
They’re all the same thing since they fundamentally involve getting others to endorse you, whether it’s a backlink, testimonial, or otherwise.
Naked selling is outright shilling when you haven’t earned the right yet to provide your opinion.
It’s the preferred practice of the digital purse snatcher, who would love to run your credit card to sell his services over your objections and whether or not there’s a fit. He’s not even looked at what you do, so there’s no way there could possibly be alignment. But he’s too lazy to care.
Here’s a garden variety example:
And my response, which I have given to many of their aggressive salespeople:
This is coming from the Forbes startup of the year, according to their email signature, no less.
Usually, they don’t reply, which is what happened here.
Jakob Hager, who is the CEO and Co-founder of Taskwunder, stresses the importance of not damaging your brand’s image, providing personalized value, and having a relationship instead of selling out of the blue:
A lot of people believe that it’s ok to do “growth hacking” and send out as many emails as possible in order to generate leads for their startup. Sometimes, this may be successful and get you leads, but you have to be very careful and avoid hurting your brand when you do cold emailing. You may just end up with bad customers, who don’t have the money but demand a lot of time and effort. The best in the industry see through what you are doing and they are annoyed by it. You may end up getting a few leads, but annoy a lot of people who could have been your customers if your first point of contact had been different.
If you believe you have to write cold emails – in fact, not only for selling your services, also in general for contacting people – make sure you first read about what they have said publicly and then provide value for them. Offer them something that they could need and be relevant. Say things like “I’ve read your articles about topic A, B and C and I would like to know your opinion about X”. Don’t try to sell something right away. You will be surprised how many people reply. If they don’t reply, at least you didn’t hurt your brand. The least you want to do is annoy all the influential people in your industry.
Many of these spam messages start with false personalization around how they love our company, in the hopes of then arranging a meeting to discuss their product. Because I’m the catch-all on our domain (so all ex-employee emails go to me), I often get a dozen of these messages all at once with identical wording.
We can hope that the email spam filter and various newsfeed filters will catch folks like this.
But more importantly, folks like these will be eventually penalized, since their cost of generating business will increase.
They must adapt by showing genuine interest in the people they’re reaching out to.
They have to become content marketers who wish to educate first, earning the right to a conversation.
We can forgive the innocent B2B marketer for spamming their lists.
Euphemistically, we call it “blasting”– doesn’t sound like fun on the receiving end, does it?
And we can even forgive the aggressive conference badge scanner or telemarketer.
Remind me to never let exhibitors scan my badge either– since the 7 am wake-up calls cramp my style.
But this type of sin is particularly troublesome since it’s done by a company that claims expertise in lead gen:
This person appears to be asking for help, but really they’re using a canned sales message that continues to follow up incessantly.
In fact, their company admits it in their note “Our automated tools allow us to easily scale up your growth”.
They claim “push button” simplicity in lead gen– that we can sit back and watch the leads roll in.
We will get “thousands of highly-targeted leads and a laser-targeted email copy that converts”– their words, not mine.
Marketing is about truly caring for the customer, not viewing them as a wallet for raiding, which happens to have legs.
We’re all so busy and struggling to keep up that it’s tempting to want to resort to spamming shortcuts.
It’s for the same reason that people want to lose weight fast or get rich quickly.
Spam in the form of flyers on your windshield or knives peddled at your doorstep– it’s the same thing.
Be a marketer that attracts people with love, as opposed to carpet bombing cities with propaganda.
The outbound cold-calling and spamming sales approach must give way to authentic inbound marketing.
Today’s marketers are too smart for brute force approaches to work, especially as they educate themselves and bring functions like media buying in-house. The networks such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn are creating training and automation that will cut out middlemen over time.
Incidentally, this gentleman never replied to my email, though he seemed so urgent in wanting to talk to me.