That’s true enough. You can pretty much find examples of things that “work” – technically – in many different ways.
But while the rules are meant to be broken, I’m going out on a limb here and saying that there are things that fall into a pretty generally accepted camp of “jackass moves”. There will always be some chumley who will make an argument that their relentless pop-up window on their site “converts” so they do it anyway, or that their brash cold-calling tactics have “generated results for years” whether or not they piss off 85% of the people they use them on.
Here’s my recent ranty collection of things that I’d think would be common sense. But clearly they aren’t because, well, people keep doing them.
The offenders might not recognize themselves, but you’ll recognize them. Send them this post, or a response of your own maybe. I know, I know. I’m pushing a boulder up a mountainside.
But maybe we can save just one. Maybe.
You email me with “I left you several voicemails but haven’t heard back.”
Gloria Bell reminded me of this one today.
There’s a reason you haven’t heard back from me.
If I’ve ignored your first request, it could have been an oversight, so follow up is fine. If I ignore your follow up, I’m not interested and I’m trying not to be an ass about it. If your inquiry was polite and respectful albeit not a fit, you’ll probably get a “Thanks but no thanks” from me (which you should also respect).
If you get radio silence, it’s because I’m probably trying not to send you a smartass response about the protocol you totally ignored with your first request, or how much it sucked to start with.
I know you’d rather have a straight-up “no”. But some of you won’t take “no”. Sometimes, I blow it and don’t respond and shame on me. Good enough.
But for crying out loud, know when to just fold ‘em and walk away. Kenny Rogers would be proud of you.
Vague messages aren’t clever.
If you expect me to return your call, I need a number. Leave it slowly and clearly at the beginning AND the end of your message. Right, Pam Slim?
Saying you have an “incredible opportunity” you want to discuss is sales code for “I’m about to waste your time”. Tell me what it is so I can judge for myself how awesome it might or might not be. Please be direct and succinct.
If you have a request of me but you don’t have a budget, I’d rather you say so and know that I have enough respect to evaluate the opportunity accordingly. If you have a sales lead for me, say so and I’ll not only be grateful but certain to follow up (or tell you it’s not a fit for us). If you want to offer me something, just say so. If you want to partner with me, get leads from me, ask my advice, reprint my stuff, pitch me your thing, just say so.
Emails and voicemails with “I’d love to talk to you about your X strategy” are also not helpful. I know you want to sell me something. That’s okay. Selling is not a crime, I do it myself. It’s what business is made of.
Tell me what you do. Tell me why you think I need it. Leave it up to me to decide whether or not we should talk some more.
But vague sucks. You aren’t fooling anyone. I promise.
If I email you, don’t call me. Use my preferred contact method, period.
This is really simple.
Today, you need to give your customers and prospects as many ways to reach you as possible. We all work differently, our lives are different, our communication preferences are varied but valid.
My communication preferences do not need to be shoved into your “sales process”. In fact, your sales process should adapt to how I operate if you want to sell something to me.
If I use email your contact form to reach out, you should respond using email. If I avail myself of your live chat, don’t tell me to call your customer service number. If you make me fill out your contact form and require a phone number…well ok I just think that’s dumb. But if I request a phone call or use the phone to contact you, use the phone to contact me.
This is about adapting to how your customers work, not how you’d like them to work with you.
Quit adding me to stuff I didn’t ask for. Now.
Just because you got my business card or connected to me on LinkedIn doesn’t mean I opted into your newsletter.
Why is this so hard for people to grasp? I seriously think this is common knowledge and then I have to spam flag about six emails a day I get from random people who decided I’d just love to be on their list without asking me.
It’s called “opt in” and CAN-SPAM. Learn it, love it, use it.
Which reminds me, you aren’t really sorry for the mass email.
You’re sending it anyway. Own the fact that you’re sending an email to a bunch of people and stop with the false pretenses. I’d much rather you be straight with me and say “I’m sending this to all of you because…” rather than trying to convince me that you’d really rather have sat down and sent me a personal note but just couldn’t be bothered to do it.
And when I email you to take me off a list, take me off. That moment. Not in 7-10 days (really?), not after I’ve clicked four emails to tell you I’m really really really sure. Immediately.
Quit making me endure a sales call before I can kick any of the tires whatsoever.
I’m talking to you, business solutions platforms.
I have no aversion to a sales call when I’m ready, but making me take it during the research phase when I’m gathering information is intrusive and unhelpful.
Your prospects aren’t half as stupid as you think they are. Some of them are, but you aren’t going to fix that by making them walk through your prescribed sales process so you can classify them as a ‘warm lead’ or ‘educate’ them about what your solution can really do.
We have so much information and input at our disposal now. I’m willing to engage in your sales process, but when I’m ready to, not when you say I’m supposed to.
Read the instructions.
For example, I have very clear guidelines on my Contact form about what kinds of requests I entertain, and what I don’t.
Some might think me a snot or a hard nose, and that’s okay. Truth is I just don’t want to waste time, yours or mine. I have those guidelines there so you don’t waste your time sending me a message I won’t respond to, and so I don’t have to keep deleting them.
Spending five minutes on someone’s site before you send them crap ought to be a prerequisite, but it isn’t. (And it’s okay, I know you didn’t read and love my recent post, that’s not a criteria for contacting me, honest. You can stop pretending you did.)
Presuming, however, that the true offenders aren’t reading this anyway, you need to call them out when they do it. I simply send them a link to my “Pitching BTT” page. It’s sharp, but it gets the point across.
If you’re getting paid, rewarded, compensated or judged based on how many people you’re contacting vs. how many people are actually paying attention to your offer and responding favorably, you need to have a conversation with whomever is holding you to those standards and explain why they’re the wrong ones.
They call it “spray and pray”. Only you can prevent it, just like forest fires.
Hold yourself and your clients or employers to a much higher standard of cultivating relationships and early contacts. It will serve you much better in the long run.
I want you to be successful. I really do.
We’re all just trying to make a living out here. I get that, and I totally support that.
It’s why direct and straightforward beats shady every time. If we aren’t a fit, wouldn’t you rather know that? I would. My business doesn’t make any money when I’m spinning my wheels wasting people’s time and energy or, worse, making them mad by peppering them with a bunch of communication they didn’t ask for in channels they didn’t ask for.
I respect businesspeople that are up front about what they’re trying to do, put it on the table, and respond to what comes.
I don’t respect people who are constantly trying to game the system, do an end run around people’s processes or preferences, or get clever just to get a bunch of contacts in the hopes that a handful will actually get suckered through the system.
It’s a crappy way to do business in general. Don’t be one of these people.
Most of the world wants you to succeed. Many people will actually help you if it’s in their power to do so. But not if they think they’re being played or manipulated.
Learn to shoot straight. It’s the best business advice I can give you. You’ll make some people mad, but you’ll always know where you stand.
And you won’t have people writing blog posts about your crappy habits. So, there’s that. That’s something, right?
Right. Now go be excellent to each other. We’ve got work to do.