I have been flooded recently with an extraordinary amount of sales literature, phone calls and e-mails that simply boggle my mind. I’ve said this before and, it appears, I’ll be saying this for sometime:
If you are not creating value, you are extracting value.
It doesn’t matter if you are a salesperson or an executive. Whether you are communicating with a prospect or a client. When you initiate communication that doesn’t mean anything, you add to the cost of doing business with you. You make it less desirable to do business with you.
Companies like Sandler Sales Systems and ‘trainers’ like Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy tell their followers to find any excuse to send something to a prospect or client. Repetition, they say, is the key to getting attention. They’ll use industrial-age statistics that say it takes at least six exposures (or more) before someone notices you. The key, they say, is to get those contacts as fast as you can.
These meaningless contacts are just another example of industrial-age strategies killing the go-to-market efforts of businesses today. Let me share with you two unsolicited e-mails I received in the last 10 days. I will be deleting the names of the sender and their companies to protect the guilty. In just so happens that both examples relate to advertising.
The first is from a major weekly business publication in my area:
My name is [name withheld], Technology Ad Rep with the [company withheld]. When I read about the Imagine Companies online I thought that it would be a good fit in our paper. Attached is a media kit which outlines our readership. Our paid circulation allows us to audit our readers every year to pass along valuable info to our readers.
The [company withheld] is the only source of late-breaking local business new covering all industries in Maryland. We have a paid readership which ensures that our ads are seen, and a committed readership made up of business professionals.
Our readers are aggressive readers who use the [withheld] every week to improve their business.
We have a new promotion for Technology advertisers which allows you to appear in the paper frequently at a discounted rate.
I would be happy to discuss this option with you in more detail.
This e-mail attempts to demonstrate the special approach the sender has taken by researching my company. However, the e-mail was sent to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. It took away any credibility. More importantly, Imagine is not a technology company. All the e-mail has done here is demonstrate that the sender knows nothing about my company.
“What’s the big deal?” you may ask. “It’s just an e-mail.” So what did the sender lose? Two things. First, had I been a technology company, there is absolutely nothing in the e-mail that is compelling. The sender has further commoditized himself and his company – offering a discount before a conversation even began. Second, the sender has cost himself an opportunity. By wasting time sending meaningless e-mails, this salesperson is able to rationalize to himself (and his managers) that he is ‘prospecting,’ But he is missing the opportunity to make a valuable contact with someone. I manage sales teams for several companies and the first sign I see that indicates there is a clear value creation problem is when I see useless e-mails being sent out in lieu of the salesperson getting out there and meeting people.
My bet is that this salesperson will not be with the company very long (the turnover in media sales is pretty substantial), and the sender has only succeeded in making the job of getting the attention of the proper prospect more difficult for the next person.
A week later, I received this e-mail:
I am the Anne Arundel County representative for [company withheld], and recently heard about your business. I was told that I needed to come out and talk to you. I would love the opportunity to share with you information about Baltimore and Washington’s most comprehensive business publication. Looking forward to meeting you.
Have a great weekend.
This e-mail has the daily double: communicating no value whatsoever and using deceit. “I was told I needed to come out and talk to you.” Nice. It leaves the impression that someone has referred them to me, without actually lying. In my opinion, however, it’s a lie anyway. Further, what in this e-mail gives me the slightest reason to want to to talk with this person? Here’s the point. Is there a compelling reason for me (or any client or potential client) to meet you or read what you are sending? If there isn’t, save us both the trouble and don’t communicate. If there is a compelling reason – tell me clearly. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t deceive me and don’t insult me . Lay it out. If it’s truly compelling, I’ll respond.
It’s up to you. Do you believe in your offering or not?