Enough Sales Spam Already

Over on Paul Castain’s sales blog, there was a lively discussion yesterday about “cold
calling” and it’s place in today’s sales process. You already know that I don’t do cold calling, and I shared my reasons why on Paul’s blog. It is always interesting to see how others respond to a differing point of view. For example, the guy who posted his comments after me starts by saying the following…”When I hear cold calling is dead, I usually see a group of lazy sales people nearby.” I choose not to cold call, so how exactly does that make me lazy? I’ve sold $1B in products and services during the past 29 years as a sales professional. And, I did it without cold calling. I think Paul makes a point when he suggests that we think bigger than is cold calling alive or dead.

It is about the approach.

When you call me or send me email that isn’t relevant to me or my business, in my book, THAT is lazy. I can call 100 people a day and rattle off a pitch in the hopes that maybe someone will take a meeting with me. Is that effective? As Rick Page would say, hope is not a strategy!

What takes work is creating a target list of accounts, uncovering the right decision maker to get to, doing research to learn about them and their business initiatives, looking for common connections who could potentially introduce me and crafting a message that is relevant and focused on the needs of my prospect. That’s work people. I have no doubt that there are salespeople out there who have mastered the art of the cold call by focusing their attention on the value they bring to the prospect they want to close. And, that’s the rub. Most don’t bother.

Today, like every other day, I have at least 15 messages in my email inbox that are unsolicited sales spam. The message that I’m about to highlight below is indicative of why I get up on my soapbox to talk about why buyers have had enough. Though it is better written than most, it is still why buyers are screaming at the top of their lungs…enough. Oh, baby, did I ever want to call out this salesperson, but to tell you the truth, I decided that I don’t want to look like an ass. I can showcase the message with my thoughts about a better way and still make my point.

More than receiving spam from people I don’t know, I am really fed up with the cheesy sales tactics that I know someone trained them to use to provoke a reaction. Today, one salesperson got one, and me, well, I get a blog post in the process.

Here goes…

Subject Line: I have tried to reach you…
(Total lie by the way. I’ve not received a prior email or phone call)


“Hi Barbara,

I have tried to reach you several times regarding how XYZ video company has been able to help organizations like Talent Builders, Inc. by providing a feature rich online video presentation platform that allows you to quickly and easily assemble video content that works. There is a reason Bain Capital, Progress Software, McKesson, Genzyme, PGA, Callaway Golf, and many others are using our XYZ solution.”

Barb says: I have to ask you, does this message strike you as being personalized for Barb? Telling me that there is a reason why the companies he noted use the service doesn’t really impress me. What might have impressed me is if he had told me how using his video service would bring revenue into my company.

The email goes on…

“Although I was looking forward to speaking with you, I certainly don’t want to be a nuisance or waste your time. To help me understand your situation, it would be helpful if you would respond with one of the following:

1. ” Hey, XYZ sales rep I’m just not interested (so you can stop calling and emailing me). Thanks just the same.”

2. “I’m not the person with whom you should be talking. I’d like for you to discuss this with ___________________. ”

3. “I’m interested, but really busy at this time. Please call me on this specific date __________ and this time ___________.”

I appreciate your response, as it will help me save you some time and effort.

Best regards,
Sales Spammer at XYZ company”

Barb says: Geez, where do I begin? He says that he doesn’t want to be a nuisance or waste my time? Dude, you’ve already done both! But I just love the worn out approach he uses to try and get me to take some action. More time wasting. He wants to understand my situation? Uh, did you review my LinkedIn profile, review the information on my website and blog, check me out on Twitter? Clearly not. If he had, he might have already had some sense of my “situation”. And, isn’t it grand that he “appreciates my response, as it will help him save me time and effort”. Really? How exactly does that work? In particular, it is #2, that gets me. He should already know if I’m the person to talk to, which, by the way, I am. If he had bothered to look at any of my online profiles, the answer would have been obvious!

Listen, beat the drum of… “cold calling and sending email spam works”…all day long. That’s fine by me. As long as I continue to receive emails like the one I’ve shared today (and believe me, I’ve received others far more lame), I will stand firm in my belief that both approaches are ineffective and outdated.

That is all.

8 thoughts on “Enough Sales Spam Already

    • Brad, I might have said something like…

      “Barbara, I’ve spent some time on your blog and LinkedIn profile, as well as have followed your tweets on Twitter. I notice that you’ve built quite a name for yourself in the social selling space. And, it seems you are quite an advocate for the power of video. While you may already know this…video has proven to capture awareness from prospects roughly X times more often than simply text on a page. That increased awareness has led to XX% increase in sales revenue for the majority of our clients. With all of the speaking that you do - and it seems your webinars are quite popular - our video platform may be an ideal solution for reaching an even larger audience in a more personal and engaging way. I’m not sure if our solution is a fit, but if you are willing to chat for 15 minutes, we could explore whether or not there is the potential to work together.”

      Brad - that was quick, and I didn’t even think that hard about it. If the sales rep had sent me that kind of message, I would ABSOLUTELY give them the time. You see, that’s why I rant on this topic. It takes a couple of minutes to think it through, but the investment in time is worth it. People respond more to a personalized message than the same boiler plate email sent to everyone else. I know you sent me an email on LinkedIn, which I’ll respond to privately. I want to help in any way that I can.

  1. Barb . . . thanks so much for the mention. I really appreciate it.

    Don’t even get me started on this whole “you’re lazy if you don’t cold call” nonsense. Having a better way, that works for us on an individual level is far from lazy . . . you and I refer to it as smart!

    And speaking of lazy, the email you received was lazy on mucho levels and I think you may have summed it up best in your comment to Brad where you outlined how that email might have read.

    Its not only a matter of how long does a better email take to write, how long does it really take to do some basic research? The basic research lends itself to a better email . . . certainly more targeted.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but its really hard for me to take someone seriously who couldn’t be bothered to do a little homework.

    And let’s be honest Barb, its not like you aren’t leaving a pretty noticeable online footprint between being an author, your blog, twitter, the events you speak at etc.

    Any who, thanks again and keep up the fantastic work!

    With respect and appreciation,
    Paul Castain

    • Thank you, Paul! We think a lot alike and as always have you spark great conversation.

      Yeah, I’m with you. It isn’t that tough to do a little basic homework. Had said sales guy done that, I would have talked to him!

  2. Hi Barb,

    Great blog post! The email example you provided is so typical of what is not working these days…companies who talk all about “me, me, me,” or “us, us, us,” and focusing on their own agenda instead of focusing on the customer, their pain points and how to solve problems (problems that their prospects are actually experiencing). As you pointed out, it only takes a few minutes to do your homework and put forth a little extra effort.

    Thanks again!

  3. Jenny - thanks so sharing your thoughts! If you saw a piece of email I received today, you would laugh. Not only was it long, long, long, but they were selling social media services. Hello? All you had to do was look at the website or my profile and you’d realize you were selling to your competitor:).

  4. Barb your post is spot on and receiving great contributions from our readers - congratulations! It caused me to ask “So why is B2B cold calling still alive”? Salespeople who use cold calling are operating as a stage one salesperson also known as a commodity supplier. This indicates that they possess a low level of sales skills and they turn to old traditional approaches that they can execute upon, like cold calling. These sales people are more comfortable using telephone scripts or sending emails to sell features and benefits (thinking the listener must need what they want) then elevating their game and sales success. There is so much work to be done…sales may be the second oldest profession yet their is great need to educate sales leaders on the importance of training their sales team on business acumen, sales skills including that of social selling and people skills. For good reason we are busy leading the evolution of salespersons as a credible and fulfilling profession.

  5. I agree with you completely, Kent. Right now, B2B cold calling is alive and well, because there is a perception that persists that it works. Sales managers pressure their reps into “activity” and seem less concerned with effectiveness and profitability. For that reason, I am confident that our business will continue to thrive, as more savvy sales execs realize that there is a better way!

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