I use this column, too often, to whine about the state of prospecting emails. But every once in a while, I get a great prospecting note. Despite the dozens of bad emails I get and delete without getting past the first line, there are some that capture my attention and stand out. There are some that earn/demand a response because of the quality of the effort.
Recently I received just such an email:
Subject: I’d like to guest write on Partners In EXCELLENCE
Hey there Dave!
My name is Diego Segura, I’m a 17 year old brand identity designer and entrepreneur from Leander, Texas. My father and I talk about your blog all the time as he is in sales and has spent many years as a sales manager, and I am trying to run a design business. We love what you’re doing, and I know that your articles like Old School Prospecting have influenced me tremendously.
I am currently trying to improve my writing ability and expand my skillset as a thinker and a leader of people, and I wanted to see if I could submit a post about sales and communication to your blog and have you take a look at it. I would like to complete a book that I have been working on within the next 6 months, and this would be a great way to gain experience as an author, even if you never end up publishing the post.
Let me know if there is a time that we could speak on the phone, even if you don’t allow people to guest post on your blog, I’d still love to get in touch with you and ask some questions about how you got started and how you’ve kept the blog up through the years.
Thanks so much Dave, hope to hear back from you soon!
When I read the title, I almost immediately deleted the email. I get dozens of of requests from people wanting to place their posts on my site. In the 8 plus years I’ve been writing, there have only been two guest posts (and they were many years ago). Clearly, people who are asking this, haven’t done their homework. And most of their prospecting letters don’t show any evidence of ever having read my blog–they propose ideas that are completely outside the scope of what I talk about or what the blog stands for.
But I read the first couple of lines in the email. Something struck me as different about this request. First, the novelty of a 17 year old entrepreneur. Then the observation that he clearly has been reading (along with his father) my blog and understands what I am trying to achieve.
Some of you might say, “Well the letter is all about him and what he wants to achieve…” It is…. but Diego broke the code of what really interests me (It’s actually a very easy code to break if you take the time to do your research).
Diego knew I’m driven by people who want to learn, who want to continue to improve, who want to be the best in their profession. He also knows that I appreciate people who do the work, who know that excellence is the result of putting in the hours, of trying to figure things out. They aren’t looking for short cuts, silver bullets.
Diego knew enough about my blog to recognize that I don’t publish guest posts, but he wanted to try, possibly provoking me to think of alternatives or ways to expand the content I provide. Or even if I wouldn’t publish a guest post, he might be able to achieve his objective with me, another way.
In this thoughtful note, Diego achieved his prospecting objective. This afternoon, we have a call to discuss what he might do. I’ve sent him a few questions and asked him to prepare, he’s responded he’s already thinking about the issues I’ve outlined.
We did have to look at scheduling, Diego is still in high school, so we had to schedule the call after school (though he did say he might get a teacher’s permission to do the call during school hours, if that was the only time for the call.)
I’m looking forward to the call. I expect Diego will be as well prepared for this meeting as he was with his prospecting letter. Great professionals are like that (regardless of age). I also know that I will learn a lot in the conversation.
I’m also fairly certain, in the future you will see something, on this blog from Diego. Neither he, nor I, know what form it might take–perhaps an article, perhaps a conversation, perhaps he will give me an idea for something I’ve never considered.
Great prospecting doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be thoughtful.
Even though we are pummeled with bad prospecting emails, great prospecting can still stand out–so email can be an effective channel, if you do the work.