Jill Konrath


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Example of Prospecting Via Email Gone Horribly Wrong


prospecting via emailSales prospecting via email can be really tough. But honestly, some people create their own problems - as you'll soon see. 

Today's post comes from "Ken," one of my all-time favorite clients. Normal human beings (otherwise called prospects) would never put up with the sales behavior you'll see below. They'd delete Brian in a nanosecond. But Ken is curious as to how this seller will respond so he continues the e-dialogue.

As you read through the exchange below, keep track of the mistakes you find!

Hello Ken,

I am not sure if the information I have on file is still accurate but I am the new Account Manager for YourCompany @ XYZ Corp.

Would it be possible to get your “vcard” and a description of what you do so I could have a better understanding.

Please let me know as I would really appreciate the information.

Ken writes back: "You can learn about my work on my Linked In profile and also on our web site."

Great thanks for the email. I'll look into that. Now that you have my contact I wanted to know how we can do business and I could share with you our portfolio technology.

I am not new at XYZ Corp. Have been arround for sometime and from what I understand on your account is that no one was really involved!!!!

Ken responds: "I would appreciate it if you learned more about me and what I do prior to showing me your technologies. I have very limited time on my hands."

Thanks for the heads up maybe I got carried away by the excitement of working on such a great company. And instead of just talking about our solutions, I would like to meet and better understand your role, issues and how I can develop a better working partnership.

Or maybe you would want to refer me to someone else? Thanks in advance I appreciate it.

End of dialogue.

Question: What prospecting mistakes did the seller make? And, what could he have done differently to get his foot in the door? Share your comments.

Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.



Fistly, I would certainly have found out as much info as possible about the client and his company. More specifically I would have tried to get to the role that he plays in his organisationand his specific duties and then address my mail to him based on that. But more importantly, I would have asked his permission to introduce my credentials first.I would also not assumed that I could address him as Ken, better to always start more formally.I would have e-mailed along these sorts of Lines:  
" Good Day Mr. Jones, 
My name is John Smith I have been appointed as the new widget director at ABC WidgetsINC.  
I would appreciate the opportunity to introduce my credentials to you in person if that is possible. I see from the information before me that you are an extremely busy executive with little time to waste, I would require only 15 mins of your time when it is convenient for you. Would this be possible? " If you would prefer to communicate via mail first, I would be happy to do so.  
Thank you for your time thus far. 
Yours truly etc  
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:21 AM by Neill Roynon
Let's just start with the horrible grammar and lack of punctuation. Why don't sales people let the marketing team look at their prospecting emails before hitting send? My boss constantly sends out emails like this. And I don't even think he knows how horrible they are!
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 8:15 AM by stee
I agree Stee, perhaps you should highlight this with your boss, ask the boss if you can look over his important mail first. I work alone and would love to have that help if it was available... Regards  
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 8:20 AM by Neill
Anybody who doesn't do research prior to contacting their prospects is wasting their time. They are not contacting qualified leads; they are trolling for leads. 
This used to be called "cold calling." It used to be annoying, but moderately effective. 
Now it's useless. 
If you can't read a LinkedIn profile and phrase your pitch in terms of how your services could uniquely benefit the prospect, you're not a salesperson. You're a spammer.
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 1:01 PM by Caelan Huntress
You are probably correct Caelan, especially now with young people and the use of the electronic media, they are normally on top of every thing and are very savy and well informed. Depending on your industry and product mass mailing to a degree is outdated, I prefer using the centre of influence method, and approach with a solid reference in the bag so to speak. In my country they are about to ban spamming alltogether, it will become an offence to do so. Change is exciting dont you think?  
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 1:48 PM by Neill
How could anybody think this is actually still an effective way to handle sales responses. What I would be amazed at is if this guy could ever land this account past this. It clearly reads SPAM and I am with Caelen, with so many outlets to research people ahead of time and present a clear case as to how your product can be catered to this person, why not take the extra 15 minutes ahead?
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:01 PM by Mark
I receive at least one email like this every day. They go straight into the trash. 
I question the professionalism of an organization that puts so little time into modern training that a rep would believe this was an effective way to develop prospects. 
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 7:32 PM by Mary Beth Smith
First, they should check to make sure the information is correct and not have to ask the person they're sending it to. Then do some homework to find out a little more about that person. And don't use multiple exclamation points. For starters...
Posted @ Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:49 PM by Julie
Sadly, I receive emails just like this every single day and the phone calls are worse. 
Mistakes...almost too many to count. 
-all about what the salesperson wanted 
-inexcusable that they did no homework whatsoever. That rep should have leveraged LinkedIn and the web to learn as much as possible before making that phone call. 
-if I'm the customer, I'm not going to be to happy hearing that noboady was paying attention to me before but now this new rep will? That was odd. 
-this rep was not actually listening to the prospect's reponses...he just kept barreling through to get what he wanted. 
The entire thing is horribly written and not thought out at all. It makes the rep look bad and they make the company look bad. I find it hard to believe that companies don't realize the financial damage that these types of sales people are doing to their business.
Posted @ Saturday, September 15, 2012 9:13 AM by Barbara Giamanco
Wow. This is a great example of making everything focused on the seller and on getting the appointment at all costs - even at the risk of undermining any trust and respect for your prospect's time. The prospect asked you to learn more about them first and this guy keeps coming back trying to ram his way into an appt. It's not human, it's disrespectful, and it shows the prospect that you are not looking for a two-way relationship. Great example of what not to do, although I am sure the seller is a decent person and meant well. Still, a huge turnoff. Thanks, Jill.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:57 PM by Kathy Klotz-Guest
Obviously, Ken is not an effective person. Emailing each other for many emails is wasting of time.
Posted @ Sunday, July 07, 2013 6:45 AM by Kent
Dear Ken, 
Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself. I noticed that XYZ has opened a new office in the area to support the demand for.....My company ABC works with (competitors or partners) to increase engineering efficiencies by 15% or more. Joe Smith referred me to you and thought you might be interested in achieving this type of result. I have a couple of openings for a brief introductory call next Tues at 10am or Thursday at 3:30pm if either of those times agree with your calendar. 
Best regards,
Posted @ Sunday, July 07, 2013 7:20 AM by Danny Overstreet
I think some salespeople like to appear vulnerable and hope that the prospect will take pity on them. I've seen recommendations to use the Columbo technique, "Can you help me please?" 
I've heard "People love to help people." I think this is true but in the "crazy busy" world it's not effective.  
Maybe with lower level management, but not C-level.
Posted @ Saturday, September 07, 2013 5:27 PM by Marc Tinsley
Definitely needed to know the person before. Grammar is a huge issue here... but if you're doing something completely cold I think differently than some of the other comments - once I know the right person I push for a meeting up front and give a time frame in the email. I may include one hitting line of intrigue but I'll attach any extra information I can instead of putting it directly in the emails. Numbers so far with this strategy have been really effective.
Posted @ Saturday, January 25, 2014 3:34 PM by Virginia
Hi Ken, 
I can appreciate that you're busy so I'd like to quickly introduce myself as the new account manager for xyz. 
After looking closely at your Linkedin profile I believe you are still the person in charge of our service. I also see that you just had a work anniversary, congratulations.  
Getting to the point, I read that you might be dealing with X. I'd like to understand that better and see if we can help out with a solution. I'm free Monday and Tuesday next week for a short call or we can do lunch if you prefer. 
Posted @ Wednesday, March 26, 2014 2:10 PM by Mike
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