A few weeks ago I blogged about one of many ways to ensure that your cold pitch doesn’t get noticed. Today I’ll include a couple of examples of just the opposite.
- Keep the pitch simple, keep it short, keep it humble, and make a reference to show that you’ve taken at least 30 seconds to look at the site or business of the company you’re pitching. (a little bit of flattery doesn’t hurt, either.) This person did all those things, and I’ve kept her pitch on file:
Short and to the point
- Reference in the first sentence or two why you should be relevant to the company you’re pitching. This firm did it right:
Quickly get to the point about why you're relevant
The objective in a cold pitch should be similar to that of a handshake: you’re establishing rapport, conveying interest in the other person while expressing confidence in yourself, and ultimately hoping to get the other person to be interested in you as well. What you shouldn’t be doing right out of the gate is telling your whole life’s story or making references to what great babies you and the other person would make.
By pretty much following the handshake principal, the pitches above were short, effective, and persuasive.
Cold pitching is a tough job. I’m terrible at it myself, and I respect people who can do it well. I acknowledge that sales people have to start somewhere, and I don’t mind receiving well-thought-out, inbound pitches (via email) from time to time.
I receive many inbound pitches for all kinds of marketing services. It’s rare that I’m in immediate need of the exact service somebody’s pitching me when I’m first contacted. But if it’s a well-conceived proposition for a service I could imagine using someday, I file the pitch and often come back to it. I’ve ended up striking very large media deals with companies that initiated contact with me this way.
On occasion I’ll send a quick email back to acknowledge a cold pitch, but more often than not I don’t. Some people consider that bad business etiquette; I had a boss once who said that “even if the guy on the phone is selling vacuum cleaners, you should hear them out and only then politely decline.” But I don’t buy the philosophy that every uninvited pitch deserves a personal response (especially when the email was sent to a general “marketing@” or “press@” email address.) And apparently, that just pushes some sales people to completely lose it.
In browsing through my archived emails tagged ‘pitches’ the other day, I was struck by some common elements that made many of them either very strong or incredibly weak. I’ll blog about some of these from time to time to make my point.
Here’s the first one. How likely do you think it is that I would ever contact this sales person to discuss advertising opportunities based on the content and tone of this email?
This is not how to win friends and influence people
Side note: he had emailed us exactly one other time, 2 weeks ago, and as far as I’m aware we’ve never received a phone call from this person.
To his question of when a good time would be to speak with me about advertising on the site he represents, I can direct him here.
Next in this series: I’ll highlight some effective techniques that I’ve seen good salespeople use in their cold pitches.