Every morning I get a report of emails that are caught up in my spam filter. The past few months I've been noticing a trend on these lists. The emails from vendors; weekly newsletters, monthly newsletters, quarterly newsletters, new products, webinars, webinar follow-ups, cold call emails, what's new, trial downloads, whitepaper downloads and/or feedback requests, (I'm sure I'm missing a few), outweigh the amount of actual spam I get. Granted I'm pretty active on Spiceworks, especially the Contests section, where I willingly give away my email address for a chance to win a great prize, I get that. But there are companies that aren’t related to Spiceworks I get messages from.
Like, when companies send these, do they picture us like Ralphie anxiously awaiting his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, staring at the mailbox. Do companies think that we're staring at our inbox anxiously awaiting info on what's changed in the past week at your company? Nobody has new products worth mentioning every seven days, seriously. If you repeatedly send us emails once a week that we delete, here is what is going to happen; it’s going to get deleted, we will unsubscribe because it’s annoying or our spam filter will constantly see it’s getting bombarded from an email address with the same stuff, over and over and over and you start to look like spam!
“Oh man, this user sure is going to want all of this generic information about my product or company. Surely they have the time to read my email because no one else has this idea of sending a bland email listing features of a product similar to dozens of other products of the same nature. I mean, it’s not like this email I’m sending is so repetitive that it will be overlooked or marked as spam because it’s such an effective way to work with people. Also, potential customers love to be pestered and see these emails peppered into the hundred emails they get a day from users, server warnings, ticket information, etc. Gosh golly gee, I’m a marketing genius!”
If I want information about your product, you bet your gosh danged behind I’ll ask you and you better respond within 24 hours or I’m moving onto someone who is ready to work. Companies should spend less time and effort on pestering strangers and focus more effort on reacting to incoming information and requests. I would say 9 times out of 10 when I send a request for information, I need a response like now. My boss is asking me to research something and the faster I get info, the better I look. If I can get the information I need fast, then the more likely my opinion will be respected when it comes to IT input, for example, which company we should work with. A company that isn’t bothersome and is ready to react to our requests immediately.
In doing some research on this topic, a quick Google search results in tons of “How to Write a Cold Call Email” results. “What not to write…”, “What to write…” and such. The hilarious thing is that they are all written by sales people or formers salespeople. It’s like a marketing Ouroboros (the snake that eats itself). Spiceworks offers a chance for vendors to interact directly with IT pros at their Spiceworks Unplugged event. I was honored to be asked to go to two of these and felt great to give direct feedback right to marketers. I got the feeling that it was very useful for them as well, although they probably heard a lot of disappointing complaints, suggestions and feedback from us.
I’m not in sales, so maybe I’m naive to the whole topic. But as a consumer at work and home, I can’t stand being pestered by salesfolk. If I have a question, I’ll ask. Being in a tech savvy career I have no problem doing my own research, and I can respect that maybe the person at the brick and mortar store can’t look at me and deduce I’m an IT pro. But, being that I’m on Spiceworks and that’s how tech vendors get my email address, don’t assume that we are run of the mill consumer drones ready to purchase something based on your slick sales pitch. I’m not generalizing when I make these statements about IT pros, I’ve spent enough time with them and as one to know how the majority work and think. Does that make me an expert, no, but it does allow me to make a well founded assumption about my peers.
Not all salespeople are evil (I think). This post isn’t meant to be a rant, even though admittedly most of it sounds like that. This article is stern advice to potential sellers, advice that seems to never be taken seriously. Don’t send a “Hey dude, this email is super casual bro. Check out my white papers homie or whatevs, don’t that’s cool ya know.” emails. Do you know how many emails I get asking me to pencil in like 10 minutes on my calendar. If you’re in marketing or advertising, you should know that you need to stand out, be different, cut the bullsh*t and get to the point. Send me real numbers, you know I’m in IT and I don’t have time to throw you on my calendar. I barely have time to read and respond to your email, I can’t sit on the phone avoiding my end users while you try and sell me something. Get the info in front of me, cut out the buzzwords, give me a real quote, real time frames. Respect my time and I’ll show the same respect in turn.
During the writing of this post the phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, after I quickly googled the phone number and get no encouraging results, I usher them off to voicemail land. Oh look a new voicemail, let me check that. The voicemail is from an old school sales guy, listing off how long his company has been around, the companies he works for or with, services offered. The part that got me was how he peppered in my name through the pitch. I just imagine a script in front of him with a line that says “insert name here” to make it more personal. I couldn’t make it through the voicemail without rolling my eyes and nodding off, there is no way I’m going to make an effort to call you back to sit through more of this stuff.
Another tactic that is a bit aggressive is the “hit send on an email and immediately call”. As the new email notification pops-up on my screen, simultaneously the phone rings. The gist of both the email and call are, “Oh, I saw you attended a webinar or downloaded a white paper. I’d like to setup a conference call, what time works for you?” Or something along those lines. Attending a webinar does not mean I want a sales pitch from you. If I’m interested after the information I’m given, I will contact you. I’m an IT professional, I know my way around the interwebs and electronic mailing system.
It all comes down to companies needing to change up their tactics in regards to IT pros. We live in a time where you can find the answer to a question instantaneously. We can compare products A, B & C in a matter of minutes. The sales pitch part is essentially useless to someone who can find out their own truthful answers, get the opinions of respected peers and solve most issues single handedly. Spiceworks is the perfect tool to help us do this too. It helps us cut through the crap and get to the point. I’ve seen several vendors start to catch onto this approach and it has been refreshing.
I really respect the companies that take the time to interact in Spiceworks. Watching some of them evolve over the past few years has been interesting to watch. Usually when a company jumps into the community they tend to be a bit stiff collared and sales-pitchy. As they ease into it though, or if they are smart enough to hire a person or team to do their Spiceworking, it’s enjoyable to see a company, not only as a “cool” vendor, but also an IT peer. Someone down in the trenches with you, reading what you write and responding, is nice.
Anyway, I think my ranting post is over. I’ve been wanting to post this for a while, but finally got around to doing it. Thanks for reading and hopefully some of you agree with this and I don’t sound like a cranky old man yelling at a cloud. “Cloud”...ugh, don’t even get me started on buzzwords.
P.S. I was trying to think of catchy titles for this post, here are some ideas:
More Cold Call Emails and Newsletters than Spam
Frozen Spam Filter from All the Cold Call Emails
Vendors Are Out Spamming the Spammers
Legit Solicitation or Spam? I Can’t Tell Anymore.
Malfunctioning Vendor Machine
Struck Out from the Sales Pitches
Hey! You Got 10 Minutes? No. No I don’t.
Cold Calls/Emails, Enough Already!