The story I’m going to tell involves an interaction I had with somebody who tried to peddle his services. I’m not going to name names, describe the service or any other particulars because 1) that’s not cool and 2) I believe such an incident isn’t limited to that particular industry. I said this on Facebook but feel the need to go into greater detail.
There comes a time (sometimes more often than we wish) when entrepreneurs need to cold call or send an unsolicited email to folks they’ve never contacted previously. In an ideal situation, cold calling wouldn’t be required but it happens. As a solopreneur, I do everything myself; hopefully the day will come that I don’t have to do everything myself but I’m not there yet.
I got an email from somebody who took a shot in the dark by contacting me in hopes that he can take one of those tasks off my hands. Not for nothing, I appreciated the opportunity for that to happen so we corresponded back and forth over the course of a few days before I decided to take a pass on his services.
The first rule is to listen. I told him what I was doing, how I was set up, etc. but not once did he offer to work with what I had, make suggestions on improvements, etc. All he wanted to do was push his agenda. When I looked at his work samples, the format that he seemed to use wasn’t going to work with what I have and there would’ve been a learning curve, shall we say, for me to do any reviews, updates, etc.
Rule #2 – back up your claims. Don’t insult my intelligence by saying that you have a lot of “big clients” but your portfolio dictates otherwise. I’m not going to knock somebody for having a portfolio of mom & pop shops but don’t pass yourself off to be bigger than you actually are. On the one hand, I might be intimidated by somebody who works solely with “heavy hitters” but I might be flattered to be in that ballpark.
Rule #3 – don’t assume. This part was nightmarish and this is where he showed how much of a tool (I used a less polite word when talking to somebody about this) he was. Quite frankly, I found humor in the whole thing and I wonder how he’s scoring all of these “big clients” and selling “millions in services” if he’s turning me off. I had to laugh when he said in one of his emails that I must be in my early 20s & obviously had a lot of learn. I would’ve killed to see the look on his face when I corrected him by saying I just turned 40 & have over 17 years of relevant experience. The one statement that takes the cake is when he said something about not orchestrating my next failure because I’m already succeeding in that respect. Oh yeah, like I’m really going to change my mind over that statement. Hell, if he’s raking in the Benjamins, what’s the deal with chasing me?
Rule #4 – don’t harass. I understand the art of getting to yes but if the chemistry (or whatever) isn’t there, don’t press it. While my folks that do sales for a living may state otherwise, I equate this part to dating; if I’m not comfortable with you during this part of the transaction, I doubt I will have the warm & fuzzies while we’re doing business together. After I declined, the emails that followed really annoyed me.
Rule #5 – don’t badmouth anybody, especially your competition (who your potential client is currently using BTW). I don’t think I have to go into details about this.
Rule #6 – don’t be dismissive. I know that I’m a startup, you don’t have to remind me about that. Hell, didn’t firms like Microsoft, Apple and Dell start in somebody’s garage, spare bedroom or basement? The condescending attitude doesn’t score points with me.
Finally, don’t take cheap shots. It’s not about getting business from me or anybody about being done with it, it’s about creating future opportunities for yourself. If all went well between us, I would’ve sung his praises and referred him to everybody. He blew it. He’s lucky that I’m classy enough to not name names.
If there are any takeaways from this, I’m glad that I did my due diligence and went with my gut when things didn’t seem right. I feel the need to incorporate some Dale Carnegie by saying that being a meany isn’t a way to win friends and influence people.