Losing friends and influencing people


I download a lot of ESP white papers. Not because I’m looking for an ESP, but because I think it’s important to know what’s happening in the industry and what topics people think are important. I understand fully that white papers are a lead generation tool and I can expect followup from sales people at the places I download papers from. This is all well and good.
Generally the emails I get are polite, introduce the company to me, and ask if I have any questions or would like to talk. I tend to respond that I’m not looking for an ESP, and that I appreciate their contact. If I’ve blogged about said white paper, I will mention that and give a link to the post. I don’t want to waste a sales person’s time when said person can be working with potential customers.
Overall, these interactions have been pleasant and cordial. That makes the unpleasant few stand out even more.
There’s one memorable case where the first email from the sales rep had the subject line, “Meeting Time Tomorrow at 10am.” Wait. What? As I was checking email from bed before getting up, that subject line had me dashing out of bed to figure out what I had forgotten and work out how badly my schedule was messed up. Thankfully, my schedule wasn’t messed up, this was just an aggressive sales person optimistically claiming we had a meeting set. The email assured me that said sales person would continue to follow up with me until “we were able to connect.”
There is a place for aggressive selling techniques. This is the kind of sales drive that will work in certain situations. But I’m not sure it’s the appropriate opening when nothing is known about the target. In this case it certainly wasn’t a good opening. A number of companies ask me for ESP recommendations, and I tend to recommend those I know. I don’t think I’ll be recommending the above ESP to any customer. Their sales process was just that off putting.
Not quite the result Mr. Over Eager Sales Person expected.

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  • Although definitely off-putting to make such an assumption – I bet that subject line gets a high open rate!
    I think many marketers also tend to do the same to customers when the goal becomes primarily focused on boosting short term sales without regard for long term value. This example makes a very clear correlation that the sales process is just like an email marketing program – both have the same core concepts on how to best pitch your product (or not to).

  • I opened it, but there weren’t any images to do open tracking with, so it’s kinda a wash.
    I get that a lot of “good sales techniques” involve assuming the yes and making the person actually say no. And I’m sure that this actually gets sales from some people. Just… not from me, and not from anyone who asks me about ESPs.

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