Lately, I’ve been feeling a little like Dory in “Finding Nemo”—quickly darting among the coral and plankton shouting “Stop following me!” It seems that everywhere I turn there’s some sales guy on my heels trying to hunt me down.
As a marketer who works with clients in a wide variety of industries, I am guilty of downloading white papers on topics of interest. I regularly attend webinars in an attempt to learn new things and stay current on what others are doing. And I visit websites and ask for samples. Apparently, those behaviors trigger an automatic smack across the face of the dozing sales guy, who leaps into action in hot pursuit of a “lead.”
While I’m in information gathering mode, Pesky Peter has decided it’s appropriate to call me and try to set up a face-to-face meeting—all within 24-hours of my casual interaction with his brand online.
Today’s winning call came from a woman at a printing company, who was following up on an online form I had completed. I had visited the website, cruised around looking at a few case studies, and then requested a sample of the product. What I got was a call requesting a 1:1 meeting so she could bring the sample in person. I tried to get rid of her several times telling her I just wanted to see the product and, if interested, would call her for more information. But she refused to be swayed. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I’ll get the sample sent to me or not after that exchange.
Within minutes of hanging up, she called my office manager trying to find additional contacts within the creative department, so she might make an appointment with them instead of me. Being a smaller agency, it was easy to thwart that behavior.
Email follow ups don’t seem to get much better. I have learned that if I provide an email address (so I can download the whitepaper), it usually triggers a follow up email within just a few hours. While the email is personal, they’re often extremely aggressive in tone, and get more nasty when I fail to respond or take any kind of additional action.
The latest cold prospecting technique by the USPS is an example of “what not to do.” They emailed me an invitation to a webinar in the form of an Outlook meeting request. Marked “Urgent”, it came from a USPS rep I’ve never heard of, on a topic that I’ve never inquired about, and without any explanation other than a title of the presentation and a dial-in number and password so I could “accept” it and add it to my calendar. Quite frankly, it felt intrusive.
And speaking of email, why do sales people get so nasty so quickly when they don’t get a response to a cold prospecting email? If I’ve never heard of you, and I don’t respond, please don’t send me a follow up email asking why I haven’t responded. I haven’t responded because I don’t know you and I’m too busy to respond to cold prospecting emails on topics/products/services that don’t interest me.
I know cold prospecting is hard—so here are a few tips that might help folks from wasting their (and my) time:
- If I ask for a sample on your website, give me my damn sample before you call. If I’d wanted to meet with someone and see a demo, I would have asked for one. If you offer samples on your website, then send me the sample, give me at least a week to receive it and look at it, and then follow up with some interesting product benefits that may not have been disclosed with the sample.
- If I don’t respond to your first email, don’t email me again, try a different contact channel. Pestering me repeatedly in email is cause for a quick finger on the “delete” button … again and again. Yes, a phone call might not always be appreciated, but direct mail is a nice non-intrusive way to make contact—and it can be chock full of other samples, or ideas/links to other benefits.
- Do your homework before you follow up, and make your messaging meaningful to me. I always fill out online forms honestly, so how much trouble would it be to visit my company website and learn a little more about me/my company/clients before you email or call me to follow up? That way, you’d know we were an agency and probably doing research for a client initiative, instead of crafting an email follow up as if I’m actually in manufacturing, financial services or software. Don’t bother asking those kinds of questions on your download form if you’re not actually going to use the information.