Where Oh Where Did Real Salesmanship Go?

By: Peter Madden

It’s only 10 AM and I’ve received my 18th email pitch that I have zero use for. Today! And it seems that the more replies where I kindly state no thanks / unsubscribe / not interested, the number of spam emails just keeps growing.

Make no mistake, I have a heavy respect for real salesmanship. And these email trolls are completely the opposite. They all begin the same: “Hey, Peter…”

Are you kidding me? Hey? Am I your buddy from college? A bartender you need an old fashioned from? It’s the biggest turn-off. The familiarity makes me cringe. And from there, it only gets worse:

  • A long-form list of everything their company (which always has a God-awful name) does, from SEO to helping you predict how the weather will affect a retail client’s sales.
  • Questions that make no sense. “It seems that you don’t produce videos/develop websites/have a research team…” If they bothered to spend even a moment on our website, they would see that yes, we do indeed do that – and more. What am I missing here?
  • A reference (sometimes) to a case study they reviewed on our website for what seems to be 2-3 seconds. No real knowledge of the work, just our client’s name.
  • A nod to the work they’ve done with [insert giant agency name here] and how successful they’ve been as a result. I’m sure (note: sarcasm).
  • They have a YETI thermos for me. They have lunch for the team. They want to grab coffee. Good God my brother. As much as I would love to dine and be yelled at about whatever this incredible product/software/business is, no thanks.
  • A plea and a promise that there will be zero cost to my agency. Is this a garage sale or a business?
  • On occasion, misspelling our agency’s name or the very worst – not getting my name right. I guess this is the case when you’re a cut-and-paste used car salesman.
  • A question as to whether I am the right person to contact and if someone else is more appropriate. No, new friend, no one here is interested.

And the worst offenders? I will kindly reply no thank you and then they will come back again: because they are so certain that the agency needs what they are shilling, and how “effective” it will be for us, what can be done so we hire them? What could they say differently? What’s wrong that we said no?

Everything was wrong, Salesman LeBon. And to the aforementioned Real Salesmanship. Here’s how I define it:

  • Research the hell out of your prospect. Know them inside and out. Case studies to articles, LinkedIn posts, any awards or accomplishments.
  • Make a real connection. Where do you TRULY see an area where your company can help? Example: we have a Brandterior division (a hybrid of branding and interior design) and work with many vendors on this front – vinyl wraps to customized installments, A/V, and more. Not once has someone offered any of those types of services.
  • Pick up the phone. Amazing that not one of the thousands of emails I receive is EVER backed up with a phone call. Go old school – your chances are better.
  • Is your business in the Philly Region? Then there’s an excellent chance I have no interest. I prefer supporting those in my direct business community. Never once have I come across another business in a different part of the country that has something so special that I must work with them. It is 99% of the time available in our backyard.
  • Stop with the “Hey.” I don’t want to be called Sir, but how about a simple Name:
  • Enough long-form copy and lists of services. Talk about the worst kind of dart throwing.
  • Don’t you dare pretend to be from Philly (in my case). “How about those Phillies/Eagles/Flyers” is just so lame and disingenuous.
  • Put. That. YETI. Down. No one needs trinkets. If you’re in any business, time is your greatest asset, and no toy is going to bring someone away from tasks at hand.

Speaking of, back to being Agile. And thanks for listening, Cats!