Cold calling, and the younger, less effectual brother to it – cold emailing, are undoubtedly a part of selling and building a customer portfolio. They can’t all stop. But what needs to, and needs to maybe twelve emails ago, are the many, many, many phone calls (and subsequent voicemails) and the dozens of “follow-up” emails sent every 24 hours to merely gauge interest in Product X.

It doesn’t work, not for me. It must work sometimes, on someone, but after 3 neglected voicemails, no returned calls, no read-receipts, no replies, I daresay it’s time to consider me lost.

People have different means of finding the products and services they need. I make my team members identify 3 different options from research for every project we have, and we make a choice based on the visible reputation of the brand, quality, price and user experience. Good recommendations and good previous experiences will 100% get my repeat business.

Where I don’t source new products and services? My inbox.

Email communication is one of those gifts of modern technology that is amazingly convenient, especially for those of us young enough to have bypassed the phone call era (read: calling me doesn’t work), but it comes at a bit of a cost:

Overcrowding: my inbox is full. I don’t do folders (my preference), and at any given moment, there are emails coming in, being flagged, being deleted, being sadly forgotten and your sales email is just one among oh-so-many. Does it stand out? Better hope!

Reply All: To put it simply, there are more important emails in my inbox than yours, and I have really got to get back to Megan who emailed me on MONDAY and did I ever reply to that one about that other thing? Hm…

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For This: It has been determined that the attention span that can be expected of a person while scrolling is about 6 seconds… for a video. Take the same physical process of scrolling in my all-white, text-based Outlook screen, and you’ve got me for maybe 0.005 seconds. If it’s just another form email with my name pasted in it (and not the first time from you), I’m just going to delete it. I’m sorry.

Emailing or calling more than 3 times is aggressive. I’m going to call it there. It becomes annoying, desperate, more meaningless with every communication and just, yeah, aggressive. I’m not interested. Can’t you tell by my complete lack of communication? If I were really in the market for X, wouldn’t I bite?

Turns out I’m not the best candidate to give you advice on what to do instead – I call on one of my peers to take on that challenge, but if you are going to cold call or email me, here are some tips:

  • Be a real human being. Mail campaigns are great marketing materials, I would know, but make your copy convey your company voice accurately as a human – I don’t do business with robots.
  • Be funny or different. It really can’t hurt. A lot of people are playing from the same playbook. That just adds to my likelihood to delete.
  • Send good, relevant samples (not gifts). Samples are harder to throw away than an email, a voicemail, or a paper flyer. If they’re good, I’m likely to keep them to use somehow or even inquire about how to get more. Gifts I’ll keep or share with my team, but if it doesn’t actually represent your product, well, we’re just going to eat the Kringle and go on with our day.
  • Don’t go down the food chain. I’ve been privy to 3 instances in the last week of someone on one of our teams getting a sales email or call and needing to pass it up the food chain. Now, you’ve not only wasted my time, but that of my teams, too, and my time aggressively.
  • If your prospective customer gives no signs of life, let them be. Please. Find more fertile waters. Best of luck to you.

Selling is a part of business, it’s a part of my business, but on the receiving end and as a marketing professional, I beg for this inbox harassment to cease!

I’m not buying the aggressive strategy.