salesSHIFT Blog | Uncommon sense for sales teams seeking bigger, better, faster sales.
Home » SalesSHIFT Blog » Sales Effectiveness » The seriously bad and inspiringly good prospect message.

The seriously bad and inspiringly good prospect message.

Written by Jill Harrington on February 9, 2015 1:32 pm in Sales Effectiveness, Sales Success, SalesSHIFT Blog - 2 comments
Roadsign with arrows that says 'yes' and 'no'

If you sell, you use LinkedIn. When I think back in time to life before internet I give thanks for the level of efficiency that this valuable technology has brought to the field of selling. Well … depending on how you use it.

Recently I witnessed the worst and the best in messaging to a new prospect through LinkedIn. And I want to share. I am providing you no commentary or analysis. I am simply sharing two distinctly different messages sent by two sellers … and my response to each.

Read both messages. Ponder them. Consider my response. Most importantly think about your own LinkedIn messages. Then, because I’m curious to know your thoughts, please scroll down to leave a comment.

The first message, is an unsolicited “cold” e-mail sent directly to me by the sales manager of an organization whose identity I have removed to avoid public embarrassment to her. To fully appreciate the insanity of this e-mail message think about the service she is offering and to whom she is selling.

The second is an unsolicited “cold” e-mail sent to the CEO of American Express from a young entrepreneur, Brian Wong, acting on this powerful insight, “If you ask for money, you get advice. If you ask for advice, you get money.” His e-mail generated a response. For the full backstory click here: Best Advice: How a Cold Email Can Land You Funding

From The Sales Manager of XXX Company:

Hello Jill, 

I wanted to check in on you to see if you are currently considering 
outsourced lead generation & appointment setting services for business 

Here at XXX Co, we provide telemarketing solutions that are 
specialized for your industry. What we do is contact a list of your targeted 
prospects (based on your criteria). Then, we pre-qualify interested potential 
clients, and set them an appointment with you to close business deals.

Do you have a time this week for a quick chat to discuss further with 
our sales rep? I’ll also understand if there’s no current need.

Interested to hear your thoughts.

All the best,


And my reply:

A.Y. my answer is “no thank you” and here’s why.

Your e-mail is a generic scripted message that could be (and probably is) sent to anyone and everyone. This suggests I am a number on your list. You say you provide telemarketing solutions that are “specialized” for my industry but you show no indication that you know what that industry is. Your e-mail came through LinkedIn so I have to assume you looked at my profile but you have failed to use any information to personalize this message and demonstrate you are genuinely interested in, and capable of, supporting my specific business.

In short I look at how you are selling your services to me. And my reaction … I’d be a fool to pay someone to take the same inefficient and ineffective approach to lead generation for my company. The fact that you say “I’ll also understand if there’s no current need” suggests you agree.

Sorry to be blunt but you asked for my thoughts.


Brian Wong’s successful e-mail to the CEO of American Express:

Subject: 20-year old founder of a 20 million mobile rewards network – looking to learn.

Taking a flyer at this. I don’t think this will ever reach you but I am going to try anyway.

You’re inspiring. Leading the charge in building at the world’s freshest financial everything company.

It’s awesome and daunting at the same time. You’ve brought allure to points that people fight tooth and nail for. It’s mind blowing.

I’d love to trade some thoughts with you over lunch or dinner when I’m in New York City later this week. I get mobile, I get gaming, and I’ll be happy to provide my perspective into how a rewards layer will rule the world, and it might not be ruled by American Express.

Here’s the latest profile they had on me and Kiip in entrepreneur magazine this month (link)

Looking forward to it. Would make my year.


My comment to Brian:

Your approach goes beyond asking for advice Brian. The mastery in your e-mail is in how you use your knowledge of this CEO’s business to provoke thought and, at the same time, offer relevant value, “provide my perspective into how a rewards layer will rule the world…” Then you nail it with a validation of your credibility by attaching the link.

I don’t even like to refer to this e-mail as cold. There’s nothing cold about it. You said it in your post… energy, curiosity and wonder. Without them you would never have written such a hot introduction. Masterful!

What do you think? Does this make you think differently about the messages you send on LinkedIn?


2 Comments on 'The seriously bad and inspiringly good prospect message.'

  1. Jill, while I agree that Brian’s message is superb, I don’t know how I can quite replicate that. I’ve not had anyone write a profile on me in a magazine or on a website that I can reference. That seems to be one of the strong legs of this 3-legged stool:
    – soft intro with compliment, not pushy and boring
    – indication of industry knowledge and customer’s business
    – 3rd party reference on self and company
    Even as I write this, though. I can probably still provide customer references, so maybe I can pull it off.

    • Nathan … nice to hear from you. I can hear your incredibly articulate brain processing as you write your post. And I think you’ve addressed your concern without my input. No you cannot replicate Brian’s message. Nor do you want to. And yes you can have the same impact using your personal style, and by incorporating the three critical elements Brian nailed, and most sellers miss, to pique curiosity.
      1. Demonstration of understanding of customer’s core issues/ business.
      2. Offer of relevant and thought-provoking value.
      3. Objective validation of credibility. (Relevant success story, customer testimonial, referral, company white paper… and so many ways to do this).
      Thanks for the comment and good selling!

Leave a Comment.