The Way Not To Sell

In this post I tear apart just one of the thousands of terrible email pitches I receive each month. This is a lesson in how not to do outbound email.

I got this email today. It’s important that you know I’ve never talked to this person. I have heard of the company (who’s name has been changed because I’m feeling charitable at the moment) but this was sent to me cold.


I’ve added my comments in bold type. (I’m just sharing this with you – I didn’t respond to the email. Yet.) And, before you comment, yes, I’m a big jerk.


Dear Pete, Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you regarding Acme Business Services.


I haven’t given him the opportunity – I’ve never spoke to him or heard of him. Nice trick though.


I’m happy to introduce myself as the Regional Director of Business Development for your area.
Good for you. I’m glad you are happy. Do you want a cookie?


I have been serving the market research industry for over a decade and am well acquainted with our services and how they might align with your particular service needs.


I’m glad he’s well acquainted with his own services. How could he know what my “particular service needs” are? We’ve never met or talked. He probably doesn’t know that all my clients are sky diving nuns with eating disorders.


Please review the attached marketing information and be sure to contact me if you have any questions. I will follow up this email with a phone call within the coming weeks to explore in detail how Acme Business Services can be positioned as a valuable partner.


Oh, boy! I can’t wait to read your marketing doublespeak about why you are so great. I can’t wait for your call so you can tell me even more about your company – in detail!


I look forward to serving you with enthusiasm and passion,


Is he hitting on me?


making our commitment of world class service a top priority.


Uh, what? You want to make your commitment a top priority? I’m totally committed to my top priority of giving up donuts but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep horking them down. I bet you offer excellent excellence too.


Thank you very much.


Don’t mention it.


Warmest regards,


John Smithe
Director, Business Development
Acme Business Services


This email violates everything I know about selling. It starts with a trick – implying that we’ve spoken and I “gave him the opportunity”. I’ve given you nothing and it’s unlikely that I will once you’ve insulted my intelligence.


Next, the message jumps right in talking all about the sender. How happy he is to have a job and to tell me about it. He goes on to say how smart he is about what his company does. I don’t care how much you know about YOUR business – tell me how much you know about MY business!


It just goes downhill from there.


My point is not to be mean to the well meaning sender of this email. My goal here is to help you see a better way to ignite a potential relationship.


In fact, I wouldn’t even send a message like this. I would make a personal phone call and ask permission to take 30 seconds to find out if the person is even remotely interested in talking to me. And if he or she is, the conversation will be all about his/her needs. Then, together we can decide if there is any point in starting a relationship.


And you would never hear me talking about my passion, commitment to excellent excellence or my stupendously superfluous synergy.


That is all.