Stalking Your Business Prey: 5 Ways to Fail at Follow-up

I could feel his eyes on me, watching my every move.

I opened his email, scanned the content, clicked on the link and arrived at the landing page. I carefully filled out the registration form, clicked on the download button … and BOOM! The phone rang with his follow-up call.

I gasped, picked up the phone and without even identifying myself said, in utter disbelief, “Don’t tell me you’re following up on the paper I downloaded TWO SECONDS ago?”

I could hear him chuckle before he said “I just wanted to see if you had any questions.”

“How could I have any questions?” I exclaimed. “I haven’t had a second to even open the PDF!”

Have we moved to an era where salespeople are so desperate to meet sales pipeline quotas that they think it’s appropriate to contact a potential lead within seconds or minutes of a download?

Needless to say, he’s tried calling me back again, and again, and again over the last few weeks. But since I enjoy call display, I’m going out of my way to avoid answering. Why? Because his behavior was so creepy, I don’t want to engage in any sort of dialogue with him – ever. In fact, he’s turned me into a “brand evader.

In this pressure-filled business world, using content to lure potential prospects into the sales funnel is an extremely common marketing strategy. But the follow-up needs to be carefully strategized: whether it’s message, timing or contact channel. And I find most marketing and sales people have already picked up a dozen bad habits.

The Random Connection
I seem to attract lots of interest from others on LinkedIn. I get invitations to Link In with dozens of people each week — most of which I ignore. Why? Because the only note attached to their invitation is the LinkedIn default message “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I look at their name, title and the company they represent and think, “No thanks. You’re just going to try and sell me something.”

While LinkedIn is a powerful relationship building tool, it would work harder if you DO NOT use that default language. Instead, just like you test outbound email copy, try testing different introductory email messages. Try making note of the relationship between our two businesses and why it might make sense to connect. Or highlight what it was about my profile that made you want to connect with me. Test, refine and learn. It’s direct marketing 101.

Email Invitations to a Prescheduled Meeting
I don’t know who came up with this strategy, but it’s got to stop. The first time I got one, I thought “Wow. I’m really getting old. I have no memory of talking to this guy, let alone agreeing to a conference call/demo meeting.”

Since the time suggested for the meeting was a conflict on my calendar, I politely declined. But another one arrived about 2 days later – same guy, same company, same meeting invitation strategy.

I declined again. And, placed his name on my SPAM list.

Persistent Personal Email
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails that say things like “I’m following up on my previous email, in case you didn’t get it …” Oh, I got it all right. I deleted it. And now, I’m flagging you as a spammer, too.

The Inexperienced Phone Caller
One of my colleagues recently posted this unbelievable inbound phone call to her Facebook page so we could all enjoy the idiocy of this inexperienced sales guy. This is verbatim.

“Hello Denise, this is Enterprise.”
“Hello Enterprise.”
“Yes I’m calling because, like, we see you have an account.”
“Ding Ding Ding correct.”
“So we noticed, like, you’re not renting cars like at all.”
“That’s right.”
“So like why is that?”
“Because I haven’t needed a rental car.”
“Like is that gonna change?”
“Like I don’t know.”
“Because we want to know if you’re gonna lease a car.”
“Well I will certainly let you know. Can I get a free ride sometime?”
“Like I don’t think so but I can check.”

Come on. Who hired this guy? Who trained him? Who had the bright idea to give him a list of past customers and set him loose?

I get it. Selling is hard. But I can guarantee that NONE of these strategies will be successful.

Oh, and by the way, let me download and read my business article in peace. Then try emailing me with similar articles that I might like. Keep doing that and I’ll soon become familiar with your brand and, perhaps, engage in a conversation. But I warn you. More likely than not, I’m merely doing research on behalf of a client and I have no influence over purchase whatsoever.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

8 thoughts on “Stalking Your Business Prey: 5 Ways to Fail at Follow-up”

  1. Carolyn – I must have downloaded the same document. I had the same response for the sales person – 2 mins isn’t enough time to even scan the document. Love your article!

  2. @Carolyn – Great post! Companies want sales without providing value or trying to establish a relationship with a prospect to learn their needs and wants. Just because you just invested in marketing automation, or added more sales people, doesn’t mean you can’t be customer-centric.

    Provide information of value, gain trust, establish your company/product/service as a potential solution to a problem I am experiencing then I might engage with your sales person.

    1. You’re dead on. So why is it brands (and some very big ones I might add) are so resistant to this strategy?

      1. For the same reason they spend 80% on advertising/lead generation and 20% on customer relationship management. They’re focused on short-term revenue goals versus developing long-term relationships with customers (a.k.a., adopting a customer-centric or “customers for life” philosophy).

        They’re essentially saying, “I’m not interested in a relationship, I just want your money.” I believe the companies that figure out how to deliver a consistently outstanding customer experience will win over the long-term.

        The integrity chain: integrity > trust > repeat purchase > profitable relationships.

  3. This isn’t follow-up it’s foul-up. Carolyn! Is it that people don’t know better? That, as in your last example, their training is non-existent? And that random connection, in particular as you state with the default message on LI: this is why I just don’t pay attention to the invitation unless I see it has at least a personalized introductory sentence that’s relevant. I cannot TELL you how many times in the past I fell into that trap.

    1. Once burned, twice shy… as the expression goes. And, P.S., my download stalker called me again today. Do you think he read this blog? From his “I’m reaching out to you AGAIN, can’t you please call me?” message, I’d say his desperation is showing.

  4. You are so on the money! As a small business person, I get invitation to ‘free’ webinars all the time. And heaven forbid, I actually sign-up for one and listen to it! The ‘host’ company now stalks me and the webinar has NOTHING to do with what that company sells. So now, I won’t sign up for a webinar, download a ‘free’ how-to or ‘Top Ten’ idea book because my phone and my inbox will be plagued with the relentless salesperson calling even when I tell them very clearly, I am not a prospect.
    Free content is fishing – and not every fish can be caught even if they take the bait!

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