Last week I received a request for help via email. The reader asked if I could recommend a response to an email reply he received (at least he got a reply!). The thing is, he deserved the reply he received because his introductory email absolutely sucked! In today's article I'll share what he wrote, the reply he received, and my recommended response. All of the names and organzations have been changed to protect the innocent. Ready? Here's his original introductory email:
From: <The Salesperson> [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 4:15 PM
To: <The Prospect>
Cc: <The Salesperson's Boss>; <The Referral Source>
Subject: <The Referral Source>/Toner from <The Company>
Hi <The Prospect>,
I wanted to connect with you as our company would like to get on your bid list for toner, both black and colored. <The Referral Source>, the CEO of our company and I engaged in a conference call a few months ago. <The Referral Source> and I finally met today and he mentioned you were the go to person for these items. I believe you have 10 or 11 HP 9050's but we could not find out what model printers have the colored toner.
We believe we can outbid your best competitor on these items and provide you with outstanding service. We currently service all of <Other University's> printers and several other facilities in RI. I am extremely fond of <This University> as my son <Salesperson's Son>, graduated from <This University> in 2006.
I currently have my nephew attending, <Salesperson's Nephew> who is currently a freshman. I met with him today while I stopped in to meet <The Referral Source>. He has been great with trying to assist us in our endeavor. We would greatly appreciate your assistance. Kindly provide us with the printer model for the colored toner and any paperwork that needs to be completed to get on <This University's> bid list. In addition, an estimate of your usage monthly. Attached you'll find a partial list of some of our major customers and our value proposition. I look forward to hearing from you.
Business Development Manager
<The Salesperson> got this reply one day later:
From: <The Prospect>
Sent: 4/24/2015 12:28 PM
To: <The Salesperson>
Cc: <The Referral Source>;<The Salesperson's Boss>
Subject: RE: <The Referral Source>/ Toner from <The Company>
We are currently dealing with two suppliers for our Toner and other consumables needs for all printers and some MFPs. Both of those companies are under contract and at this point I think we are all set. We will keep you in mind if we find they are unable to serve our needs.
<The Prospect>, C.P.M., CPSM
Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services
<The Salesperson> sent me an email asking, "Hi Dave, how would you respond to this reply?"
I said, "First, the opening paragraph of the email you sent him positioned you all wrong for this – so you probably deserved to have gotten blown off…"
He did everything wrong!
- He failed to start with the relationship building facts and went right to business thereby sounding like every other salesperson attempting to get a foot in the door.
- He didn't ask for a meeting, a call, or a discussion - he asked to be put on their bid list - thereby confirming what <The Prospect> suspected - he was just like all of the other copier salespeople on the street. And why would you want to be on a bid list? Wouldn't we just want to get the contract?
- He positioned his service and company as one that could beat the prices of the competition - thereby confirming that he was not providing any value.
- He talked about great service and value but didn't back it up instead assigning homework. I like homework assignments but not until the prospect wants help!
That said, I suggested that <The Salesperson> respond with:
Thanks for responding to my email, <The Prospect>.
I understand that as the director of purchasing, it’s your job to reject, refuse, rebut, and turn away salespeople that are simply further interruptions to your day. But I’m shocked at how you treated the father of an alumni, who paid more than $150,000 to attend your fine school, and the uncle of another student in the midst of forking over six figures…
Is that how <Dir of Admissions> or <CEO of the University> would want you to treat outside influencers?
As the director of purchasing, I know you take pride in providing <The University> with the greatest value and efficiencies available and I know we can help you achieve that.
Won’t you reconsider your previous reply and schedule some time to talk?
So we'll see what happens when and if <The Salesperson> sends that email and whether or not <The Prospect> responds...
In the meantime, what should his original email have said? If it were me, I would have called, but since this article is about sending an introductory email, I would have sent this:
Hi <The Prospect>,
<The Referral Source> strongly recommended that we talk.
But first, to provide you with some background and to establish my ties to the school, my son <Salesperson's Son> graduated from <This University> in 2006 and my nephew, <Salesperson's Nephew>, is currently a freshman.
Anyway, <Referral Source> met with me and the CEO of my company and he thought we could provide some additional value and efficiencies for the school.
Would you be willing to schedule a short phone call to see if there's a fit?
Notice that there was nothing about the product or service, no bid request, no pitch, and nothing about about pricing or homework. Emails must be concise and provide a reason for the prospect to engage.
It's really not that hard to write a great, simple, effective email. But most salespeople continue to send the junk we saw here. You can't make this stuff up!