This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
How many solicitation emails do you get each day? How many LinkedIn sales messages do you receive per day? Emails and social media messages bombard us continually. Each day I literally get more than a hundred emails and messages offering a sales pitch (it is often cloaked as an offer or enquiry but nevertheless is a sales pitch).
Each day they fill the inbox and pop up as alerts 24 hours a day. Some of these are not even addressed to me personally, some are even addressed to the company, but worse are the ones that are misaddressed with various spellings of Darren and Woolley, or even some other name entirely.
It is quite amusing when it is addressed to Mr TrinityP3, because while I may have founded the business I don’t really think of myself as the business.
Of course it would be easy to delete them all or even set the spam filter so that they all disappear into the email black hole. But no matter how annoying and time consuming, I made a commitment to respond to every one. Here is what I have learnt.
Need to know basis
One of the things about the work we do is that we need to know what is happening in the industry. We need to know who is offering what services. What type of services are available in the market. What new innovations have arrived in the market. And how these services are being presented and positioned and more.
What better way to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry than to review everything that gets sent to me. By setting aside time to scan the unsolicited emails each day I am able to quickly catch up with what is going on, spot trends in services offerings and identify the innovative players from the rest.
And of course I could simply read these emails and messages and delete them, but if it is addressed to me I will always respond simply with a “Thanks, but no thanks” if it is not something of interest or relevant. It takes seconds and I have found some clear advantages.
Ignore or not
I have found that when you do not respond to these emails and messages there is often then a second, third, fourth and fifth follow up email. Yes the senders can be quite determined. Especially in the case where they have been sent as personal communications and not just as a mass email burst. In a few cases these will get more insistent and sometimes downright critical.
In one case it was the insistence that got me to have a second look at what was being offered and in fact on a second read it was clearly of value.
But interestingly, in responding to these unsolicited emails and messages I have noticed that often when I reply with “Thanks, but no thanks” I get a reply thanking me for my response. Interesting that if I ignore the message I can end up getting harassed but if I take a few seconds to at least acknowledge the message, even in the negative, I get a thank you.
It makes sense. In a world where so many messages get ignored and deleted, where the sender is left without even the courtesy of being acknowledged, the simple act of responding, even in the negative, at least provides feedback that this is not an avenue to be pursued (at this stage).
Benefits of not just deleting
Yes, the easiest thing would be to simply delete these messages and emails en masse. To simply sit at my inbox hitting the delete button without even looking at the sender, subject line or the contents of the email would mean I could easily overlook an opportunity.
But the process of responding to these messages actually means that I review and make decisions. After all, running a business means making thousands of decisions every day. Deciding which emails to say no to and which ones to respond to is almost like relaxation compared to many of the other decisions I make.
Sure, the truth is that perhaps ninety five percent of these messages receive a “Thanks, but no thanks” reply. But for the other five percent I have responded to these unsolicited emails and either asked for more information or to set up a meeting. Of these perhaps eighty percent go nowhere, but that one can lead to an opportunity or an insight that is useful.
On the other side, of the ninety five percent that I send a “Thanks, but no thanks” perhaps less than one in five hundred will then respond and challenge my rejection or at the least question it. These I take notice of and look further into the opportunity.
If it is still not there I respectfully pass, but some of the biggest opportunities come from being challenged by people trying to sell me something and not willing to simply accept my decision. To do this they clearly think they have something that is to my benefit. And if not I can always shut it down again.
Are you missing out?
Sure, I know what I am talking about represents a one percent opportunity. But to be honest it doesn’t take any more effort to reply to these emails and messages than it takes to delete them. In fact I believe it takes more effort to continue to ignore them.
But beyond what is in it for me, it is also rewarding to know that those people who have sent me an email or a message have got a reply. If it is addressed to me I will consider it and then if I reject it I let them know.
It seems this is such a rare occurrence these days. But as my Mum always said “if someone took the time to write to you, you should write back and thank them”. But in the process I have found that I get more out of this than I put into it.
And I get to stay on top.