The Perfect Prospecting Letter (???)
I receive lots of requests from sales and marketing experts to promote things they are doing, whether it’s a webinar, eBook, Book. Most of the time I’m delighted to do so. Many have been very generous in supporting and helping me. Even if it’s someone I don’t know, generally, once they introduce themselves and show me what they are doing, I’m glad to promote. There are usually interesting ideas, different approaches to selling or marketing, things that all of us can learn from. (I do have to admit, having trouble dealing with the sheer volume of these, currently I’m reviewing about 15 books, so sometimes I’m slow in promoting.)
Today, I got another request. I look forward to hearing from experts. I can always learn, both by the way in which they approach me and in looking at the materials they send to me.
I’ve clipped an image of his prospecting email, having blocked a lot of things for obvious reasons. As I later discovered, this person is an expert in prospecting and cold calling so I expected to learn a huge amount from his prospecting approach.
1. So the first thing I notice, his prospecting letter is personalized, but clearly he’s forwarded the base template several times, just pasting in my name. The three blue lines on the left are Outlook editing/review symbols. My ego isn’t so out of control that I expect a unique letter. A standard template with my name is fine. I just expect something that’s professional in appearance and content.
2 I don’t know the person, so I have no context to understand his background, skills, expertise, and experience as a sales expert who wants to share his wisdom with eager sales people focused on self improvement. He provided nothing to me. Fortunately, Outlook shows me he’s on LinkedIn, I look at his profile.
3. His LinkedIn Profile is basically a promotion for his book. The total number of words in his profile is roughly 180-200. There is no background or experience, he has a black image of his book that simply says Volume 2. He cites one job he’s had since January 2014 but no descriptor in the job, and no other information. I’m not a big fan of LinkedIn endorsements, he’s identified a whole bunch of skills, but only has 1 endorsement for sales, he’s a member of 2 groups, and has no recommendations. I’m also not a big fan of the “who has the most contacts” contest, but he only has 151 contacts, so he probably isn’t leveraging LinkedIn to build his network and relationships. So it makes me wonder, if he’s an expert in selling, and particularly in cold calling and prospecting, clearly he would leverage all the tools available to help research, connect, and engage. Also, if he is an expert, he would clearly recognize the value of a powerful LinkedIn profile in building his personal brand and reputation.
4. Then there is the obvious spelling error–but, all of you no — oops, know— how bad I am about that, so I’m being a little of a jerk with that comment 😉
5. Then we get to the “ask.” He wants me to offer a free eBook to my readers. Apparently this eBook will also promote the 580 page book he is selling. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, I don’t begrudge him making money. But he doesn’t provide me a copy of the eBook so that I can review it, making sure it’s something I feel comfortable in promoting. He doesn’t provide me a way to get his eBook. I discover his website (decoding his email address). He didn’t feel it was worthy to point me to the website to learn more–I understand, it’s clearly not ready for anyone to view it.
So what conclusions do I draw?
I expect someone who presents themselves as a “sales expert,” particularly one on prospecting and cold calling, to be credible and demonstrate that expertise. So I take this prospecting letter as a demonstration of his prowess in prospecting, and an example of the approaches he would recommend as best practice.
He highlights the importance of Self-Marketing and Relationships in his prospecting letter. So I take his LinkedIn profile as a demonstration of what he would recommend his audience do to market themselves and build rich relationships.
Based on his execution in this letter and the “research” anyone would naturally do, I wonder, can I learn anything from him? Is it worth even following up, is it worth promoting his eBook and helping promote his other books? Would I be serving you, my readers, who have committed to learning and continuous improvement? (To be honest, most people wouldn’t invest the time in doing this much.)
I hope this isn’t me being a picky jerk. I genuinely want to help and promote people who have something interesting to say, and from whom we can learn–even if I don’t agree with their point of view. But have I drawn the wrong conclusions?
Our customers examine us in the same way. They look at every communication, every interaction. They expect professionalism, they expect us to create value, they expect us to demonstrate our leadership with each one. If we don’t, why should they invest their time in us? Why should the find us credible and believe anything we say?
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