Use automation, but don’t be a robot.

As you likely already know, I send out a ton of cold email campaigns. I know what’s effective and I know what tends to get the types of responses I desire from a variety of clients.

Sales Prospecting Cold Email

I’m also the recipient of a ton of cold email campaigns. I know what gets my attention and the type of interactions I prefer. It’s not enough to get your message into the inbox, you also need to get me interested.  Did you know, only 13% of customers actually believe a sales person can understand their needs?

If there’s one thing I hate more than the try-too-hard, overly-cute outreach campaign from the BDR who wants to be your BFF. It’s the outreach and subsequent interactions from professionals who assume that straight business has to be completely void of any personality.

The BDR who wants to be your BFF. #salesdevelopment Click To Tweet

Here’s an email that came off as trying too hard, and it went straight into my ‘don’t do this’ folder.  Now, this isn’t the worst email I’ve received.  I deleted most of them before I realized how often it was happening and that I wanted to write a post about it.  I’m all for personalization, but I see right through a message like this where you use my first name 3 times and since you didn’t have a company name you used a default ‘your firm’ and forgot to make it possessive (your firm’s).



It’s easy to get cute and fire off emails an automated manner because you have some protection from what the recipient’s response will be.  Imagine this playing out in the real world.  Let’s say I took a sample from the cheese steak guy at the mall and God forbid I don’t actually end up buying a cheesesteak.  How would you react if you took a bite then walked away and the man holding bite-sized sandwich pieces on an orange tray hollered out, “Hey, are you ignoring me?  I just ate a cheesesteak on my break and now I’m stuffed.   Can I tell you about how good it is?”


People like knowing that they are interacting with another human, so be human. In my experience, a more conversational tone and the correct amount of personal background has resulted in many more prospects being interested in having a conversation with me.  Here’s an example of my Out Of Office responder from a few weeks ago when I took a Friday off to focus on friends and family…not emails or demos.  

out of office responder

My prospects were ok with me not being available to take their calls and meetings right away and the result was a packed calendar for Monday and Tuesday after a fun filled weekend.  Can you guess the first question most of them asked during our call? (hint: How were the weddings?)  We broke the ice and proceeded to the task at hand…determining if there was a fit for our companies.

With that said, it’s important to keep all of these interactions about your prospect’s needs and recognize boundaries. We’re still going for the straight-line effect – derailing onto a conversation about your preferred airlines ranked by snack choices, or your shared respect for Kanye’s talent despite his extremely off-putting ego really isn’t relevant to either of your ultimate goals.

It’s great if a prospect really likes you, but that’s never why they should be buying from you. You want to create enough rapport to allow for a sales process where you can most effectively demonstrate the value of your product/service.  Don’t put your prospect on blast for not being that into you even though they read your groundbreaking white paper or eBook.  If you’re interested in generating more qualified leads for your business, check out our ebook.  I promise not to hound you after the download.

sales prospecting ebook linkedin leadsA final note. Being human isn’t a technique and if you try to make it one, you won’t be. Your ability to genuinely communicate with others is innate – try it.
Being human isn’t a technique and if you try to make it one, you won’t be. Click To Tweet
Oh, and if you’re one of the aforementioned sales professionals who have been, ‘trying to contact me in regards to the white paper you had forwarded in a previous message to be reviewed at my convenience’, Try this: Recognize the context, respect professional boundaries, have your goal in mind, and write a better message.

Have something to add?  Drop me a note to roddy { at } sellhack

My First Quarter Selling at SellHack

roddy sellhack prospectingI joined the sales development team at SellHack a little over 3 months ago – I love it.

It was actually a cold email that got Ryan’s attention and ultimately led to him making a surprise offer.

I have a pretty eclectic professional background, and many of those positions have included varying aspects of sales. However, these past few months with SellHack have been the first time in my professional career that I would consider myself a salesman, and I’ve learned a lot.

My intention with this post is to provide a few of the most important pieces that I’ve picked up so far. I’ll be reflecting on these myself as I move through Q2. For anyone who is about to enter a similar role, read closely. The rest of you can take the TL;DR. I’m not into wasting anyone’s time….which leads me to #1.

#1. Respect Everyone’s Time

When speaking to a prospect on the phone or during a demo, realize that this is just one interaction among the many, many, many others they need to tend to that day. In short, you are definitely NOT their top priority.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and to qualify your prospect before you invest the next 30-60 minutes in a conversation. If it’s not a fit, explain why, listen to their response, and clearly define next steps. Thank them for their time, be cordial, but be quick. Efficiency is the name of the game, and it will benefit you both.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and qualify your prospect before you invest time in a call!… Click To Tweet

Respect your own time – others will inadvertently waste it. Your prospect took the call because they recognize the possible need for your offering and an opportunity to learn from an expert (i.e. – you). Regardless of the rapport you’ve built or how well you like one another, you need to recognize when it’s time to move on to the next call, demo, or even your lunch.

Offer a deep dive or 1:1 once they come on board.

Only commit to what you can fulfill, but don’t take your pants off on the first date.  pantsoff

#2. Know your ideal prospect

First, you need to know whether or not they’re a fit for your product. You should have your segments clearly defined and documented somewhere to review when you are building your prospect lists.

Then you need to know if they’re the decision maker for your product – if not, see if they can direct you to who is. You’ll need to provide enough value for them to be willing to do this, but remember #1 as you go about it.

Pro Tip – don’t be afraid to experiment. Segment your segments and test responsiveness for each group. When you find something that works, double down.  If it’s not working, stop.  Increasing dealflow is your top priority.

#3. People are busy – so follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

In sales, a frequent follow-up isn’t annoying; it’s encouraged. Remember, people are busy – if you have a service that they’re interested in and is going to help them, you’re actually doing them a favor by checking in often.

Pro Tip – don’t send a ‘just checking in’ email.    Offer value, ask direct questions, and demonstrate that it’s your job to keep this opportunity moving forward and not their job to remember why you or your service are so great.


That doesn’t mean every day (in your case, it might) but it does mean much more frequent than a strictly social relationship

You’re enthusiastic, not aggressive – and you’re busy too.

Too busy to have someone hanging out in your funnel for weeks on end. Follow up until you get an answer.

The worst they can say is no, and that’s better than not knowing.

#4. Create a system: optimize, refine, optimize.

You’re going to have to find your own flow to deal with your day to day tasks. Track the results, identify the bottlenecks, refine your system and launch v2.

It doesn’t matter how good you are, a random approach to your sales process, or lack thereof, will have you leaving money on the table…or somewhere in your inbox.

A random approach to your #sales process will leave money on the table. Click To Tweet
Create a system that allows you to handle all of it effectively. Bite off just as much as you can chew thoroughly, and if your jaw hurts a little bit that’s a good thing. It means you’re hungry – and your jaw will get stronger.

#5. Look beyond the direct sale.

Genuine sales professionals know that there’s tremendous benefit in making an authentic connection with others. You’re products and companies aren’t always going to be a direct fit – that doesn’t mean they won’t be down the line, or that you can’t refer each other to the right people.

Don’t burn a bridge by being too narrowly focused on your quota for that day. Take enough time (while respecting time) to see the potential for the long term, and make connections that will last for more than 5 minutes.

These are the 5 areas that I’ll be focusing on for Q2. Completely novel realizations? Not at all. Worth a refresher? Absolutely. I’m curious to hear from the novice to seasoned sales pros: What were some of your main takeaways from your first sales role?

Leave a comment or send me a note – you can find my contact information with SellHack ;)

ps – ready for a new challenge?