in Best Practices

Hi Vendors! I love meeting vendors and startup founders. I really do. But (most of) you haven’t quite mastered the social skills necessary to properly contact an executive, or what to say to us to keep our attention. But there are (at least) five things vendors always get wrong. So here’s some free advice…

1. My name is not Dear Sir or Madam

First things first. If you cannot be bothered to look up my name, I cannot be bothered to respond to you. Sorry, but I will mark you as spam and you just lost a sale. Happy with your efforts now? I didn’t think so. I’m not alone in this, by the way. Most of the executives I’ve spoken to say they mark mass emails and generic messages as spam.

2. Read my profile before you contact me

Or at least skim it. Really. You’ll see that I’ve been doing this for a long time. Most executives have been at their position a long time. We go to the same conferences you do. We were probably speakers on the panel of the last con you attended. When you start communiques with an introduction on “how social media is taking over” (or mobile, or local, or augmented reality, et al), we tune out. We know it has.

I’ve spoken all over the world about that very subject. I’ve trained literally hundreds of executives. Had you read my LinkedIn profile, my Facebook, About.Me or bios on any of the other 200+ networks I belong to, you would know that I probably know as much as you do, and possibly a lot more than you on the subject. This is not a boast. It’s a fact from nearly 20 years experience in the digital marketing industry. You’re insulting my intelligence, belittling my experience and wasting my time.

3. You do not have “the one app that will solve all my marketing problems”

So stop claiming that. It’s impossible, and any tool that got close to achieving such a lofty goal can’t possibly do all of them well. I am quite happy (and prefer) to pay a little more to work with more vendors on more one trick pony apps that get it right. This goes double for social media. Most apps that claim to be great at monitoring barely scratch the surface, yet convince their subscribers they are getting everything. No one can do this. Privacy settings, anyone?

4. Don’t message me in two days, telling me that I “still haven’t responded”

Guess what? I’m not going to now. You just told me a lot about your attitude. That your time is worth more than mine. It’s not; we’re both busy. That I am obliged to respond. I don’t. That I am under a time pressure to respond to you. I wasn’t aware that I was, as you didn’t mention that, but being a salesperson, you probably are under a quota to deliver by a certain date. I get that. But I’m still not responding. Because I don’t have to.

5. Just because you worked with a colleague of mine…

Doesn’t mean I’m necessarily interested in your product or service. Messages that make assumptions about “what a perfect fit your product/service is” don’t excite me. You don’t know what products I am already using. Or if I have built my own. You don’t know if I’ve read reviews on your brand and chosen a competitor. You don’t know because you assumed. And you know what happens when you assume.

Now here’s how you can do better:

1. Address me by my name. And do this for everyone, not just me. Generic emailing is from the devil.

2. Read my profile so you know my experience level. This will prevent you from embarrassing yourself and having an awkward conversation with me.

3. Tell me about your app in a humble way. The best email I ever received from a vendor was from Josh Little ( That guy knows how to write a great email. Polite, no assumptions, did his homework and mentioned that he’d be in the area, but with no presumptions that we had to meet. Just a “hey, if you’re free…”. We had a great meeting as a result. Josh is forever in my cool book.

4. Be patient if I don’t respond. If you feel the need to make sure I received your well-written, humble email, do it in a non-threatening way. How about, “Hey [person’s name], just checking in. I sent you a message about a product that I thought was up your alley. Just wanted to make sure you got the message? If you did and it’s of no interest, that’s cool. If you have a spare minute, could you reply and tell me what wasn’t appealing to you? If not, no pressure. Just checking in.” See that? Written like a friend, not a machine.

5. Perhaps ask that colleague if I would be a good fit first. Don’t just ask them for “the name of whomever is in charge of your digital purchases” (Which you all do, don’t deny it. We all know how social engineering works).

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

PHOTO CREDIT: rogerdominh via photopin cc