Have you been asked to “jump on a call” lately? Almost daily, some guy emails, leaves a voice message, or ‘reaches out’ on LinkedIn and despite having zero prior contact with them, immediately wants “10 minutes to jump on a call” with them. It floors me that salespeople have enough free time to send cold emails asking for a cold call regarding a service that we are the worst possible fit for.
He clearly did no research, or more likely, whoever or whatever gave him the lead expended very little effort to toss me in the lead pile, other than perhaps a LinkedIn scrape or email list rental.
I ignored the first email, figuring that the email was sent on his behalf by an automated system. If someone replies, it’s his job to respond and try to make the sale. In most cases, there’s a weak manual effort involved, or a poorly setup automatic system – meaning they’d give up after one email.
Not this time
He emails again, or his systems do. Either way, better than not having done so at all – but that still doesn’t fix the lack of fit. This time, it’s clear to me that ignoring him isn’t going to work (which is fine, BTW). Ordinarily, I’d click the “Junk” button and be done with it. For whatever reason, I decided to see what he was made of.
Having been a user of the service he’s selling, I know who’s a good fit for the service – and we aren’t. I tell him four reasons why the company is not a good fit for their service. Should be clear to him that we are a waste of his sales time.
He replies – and this one is not an automated email. He actually wrote it, typos and all. He says “As you grow” or “When you grow” or some such, let me know when you’re ready for us.
He isn’t paying attention to what I said. His somewhat mechanical response implies that we’re a young, tiny company and are just aren’t ready for them yet. It leaves the impression (perhaps false) that he doesn’t care. If that’s true, that tells me his company doesn’t care. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t – they’re quite large and successful.
Required: Paying attention
The not paying attention part is trouble. It leaves people with the idea that you don’t care – even if you do.
I reply to the sales guy’s email: “We’ve been in business for decades. The 4 items I mentioned that don’t make us a fit for your software (which I have used before) are intentional decisions about the way our business operates. They will not change.”
I gave him an opening. If he checks LinkedIn, he can gather additional info. From that, he can assume (perhaps incorrectly) that I know others similar roles. Perhaps those companies could use his software. He could have asked for a referral. He didn’t.
The gift I gave him was saying that I have used his software before. I didn’t say “I used it and it was awful.” (it wasn’t) His opportunity to respond to that gift was to reply, thank me for being a former user (whatever) and “Do you know people in positions like yours who might be a better fit?”
The dog ate my homework
When you don’t do your homework, you waste my time AND yours. Wasting time due to life’s little curveballs is simply an opportunity to make adjustments. Wasting time because a salesperson didn’t properly qualify a lead (me) – is another thing altogether.
One of the four items I responded to the guy with is publicly available information if you want it. The rest might be discerned from digging around a little, but it takes less time to email an unqualified lead than it does to do your homework, so most companies send the email.
The problem is that when salespeople don’t do their homework, they make less money. Their company suffers too. They spend time on leads they’ll most likely never close. They have x minutes per day to work leads. You don’t want to waste even five minutes on someone who will never, ever buy.
Try this: Spend two minutes researching each lead. Unless you’re required to work every single lead, your time will be better spent doing a little research and eliminating the obviously poor matches.
Mark Riffey is an investor and advisor to small business owners. Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter,or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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