Vendor Relationships Pt 1: The Cold Call Email

Today, I am starting a two-part series about the Vendor Relationship. I have worked on the Client side and the Agency side of the business, and now that I am on the Client side of the business, I take great pride in relationships with vendors. I respect the position they are in, they challenge they face in starting a conversation, making a sale, and building a relationship.

As the client, I do have an obligation to be respectful to the cold call, while also managing my time. I don’t respond to every cold call email, but for those emails that are well-written, in my wheelhouse, or from a trusted and established source I will reply, even when the reply is no. I am bolstering my personal brand and representing my company brand with respect when I do so.

Most cold calls happen via email or InMail. An email address is on a list, a list is procured or purchased, or research is done on LinkedIn or other industry websites. Here are a few tips for cold call emails.

The Basics:

I am embarrassed to say how many sales emails I receive that don’t specifically say what their product does, list their company name, or even have a link to their website (not even in the signature).

I’m working with some of the top recruiters in the country on a new social media process that is killing it.

Any interest in hearing about it?

Who are you? What are you selling? Why do I need a new process?

No, thanks.

The Personalized Approach:

A lot of vendor salespeople use CRM systems to manage information about a potential customer. They do research on their target on social channels and industry sites. Then, they formulate a personalized email that aims to connect at the heart of a potential customer. Unless, they use the gimmick too hard, or are off-target and go over that slippery slope to creeper.

If you look at my LinkedIn, you will see where I have worked, where I went to school, roughly how old I am. I am not bothered by the fact that this information is available. But when it goes off target, it is bad.

I see you are from Atlanta. In full disclosure, I am from Boston and I am a Patriots fan. The Superbowl was amazing! Can’t believe the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead. Patriots win again! (*Followed by 300 words about how the Patriots dominated the game.)

I hope you can look past this and we can still be friends (*we aren’t friends). Would love to set up a call…

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking there are so very many things wrong with this approach to a cold call email. The least of which is reminding a potential customer who lives in Atlanta about one of the worst sports events in our city’s history. The most of which is that while I am a Falcons fan, I am also from Texas (which can be seen on my LinkedIn profile), and I am a die-hard Texans fan (which you can see just by googling my name or checking out my public Twitter account) and there is no team I hate more than the Patriots. It was a risky venture at best, and that risk did not pay off.

One more thing about personalization…I once received an email that started with the salutation, “Hey Pace.” We aren’t bruvs. Don’t address me as such.

Lesson to be learned: If you can’t get it right, don’t do it.

Add value:

I receive a relatively large volume of cold call emails. Most do not violate the above. However, the ones I will stop to look at are the ones that provide value. The vendor emails that I appreciate are the ones that clearly state who they are, what their product is, and why the product would apply to me in my current position at my current company. Those emails have value.

The vendor emails that I appreciate most offer not just information about themselves and their product but something more. Send me a non-gated case study your company has done, a white paper, research or a survey you have conducted. If you really want to work your way into my good graces, send me a link to someone else’s content and start a conversation about it. I appreciate good content and peer value.

The reply:

As I mentioned, I reply to some vendor emails, even if the reply is, “We are not interested.” I do try to add value to my reply including if I am already familiar with a product and why we won’t move forward with a conversation.

“I am very familiar with the product and know so many colleagues who use this and find value in it, but we are currently in a relationship with another vendor and therefore won’t be moving forward.

I do appreciate the cold call email, but I appreciate even more one that is respectful of me and of themselves by not keeping the product or web site a secret, one that is personalized but not too much so, and one that adds value. I will write back. I will try not to close the door forever. And if we do move forward into a relationship, we can start on footing based on equal respect and appreciation.

Tell me your thoughts!

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