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How Not to Call Email Marketing Prospects


Earlier today I received a phone call from a local company with whom I’m quite familiar. The salesperson opened by saying, “I saw you opened our email today, what interested you in the email?” The message I had read was advertising a seminar series the company has been aggressively pushing.

Admittedly, I was taken aback. I felt like I was being watched. I also felt that if I had been interested in the email, I would have signed up for the seminar or responded with questions myself. All in all, my feelings were equal parts 1) creeped out, 2) mildly annoyed and 3) strangely intrigued that this is how they were still marketing after all of these years.

It didn’t stop there, however. My limp response to his dead-on-arrival opener behind us, he kept firing:

“Can I interest you in a free ebook?”

“What’s the e-book about?”

“Secrets of Success”


“Can I also interest you in a free coaching session?”


Here’s where I should have asked, kindly, “What’s the catch?” instead of “no, thank you.” Given how the call had already gone, in retrospect I’d have loved to hear him describe the coaching session.

Their entire dialogue and approach to initiating and nurturing a relationship was broken from the very beginning. He was all about features, saying nothing about how I would benefit from reading his email, his e-book, or attending his coaching session.

Email marketing is an excellent, cost-effective way to nurture relationships that turn into leads. The analytics that come with most all email marketing platforms give you very useful information about who is reading what you write and sharing it with their friends. You can use this information to grow your business, however, it’s best not to creep out your prospect in the process.

So, what can you learn from today’s awkward call?

Here are three better ways you can handle calls to your targeted email lists:

  1. Give a legitimate and non-creepy reason for your call. After first asking your prospect if you’ve caught them at a good time, mention something your company is doing that’s of immediate value, and communicate that value immediately. “Next week we’re hosting a seminar on helping sell more widgets. People who went to last year’s seminar tell us they’ve more than doubled their widget sales after putting into practice our techniques.” Now you have my attention, and you’re leading with value, not a hook.
  2. If you’re calling a web lead, only offer one premium. This salesperson’s two eager offers; the vaguely-titled e-book and the equally mysterious “free coaching session,” screamed desperation. Though they were determined to hook me with something, they didn’t believe in it (or me) enough to tell me how I would benefit from any of it.
  3. Instead of tiptoeing around your point, tell the prospect what’s in it for you while communicating value to them. This can be easily accomplished by filling them in some context. Something like this:

“Of the 200 professionals we coached last year, those who stuck with the program the entire year doubled their businesses in 12 months while building systems that allowed them to work on average 25% fewer hours. Could I interest you in a complimentary session with one of our executive coaches to discuss your objectives and how coaching can help you reach them?”

Do you have an example of an exceptional sales call you’ve received? An exceptionally poor one? If so, please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear it!

Posted on April 9th, 2009 by Tim Courtney
Posted in Disaster Recovery, Online Marketing, Suburban Business, Winning Customer Service
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