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A Candid Letter from Your Prospective Customer

A Candid Letter from Your Prospective Customer

Jill Konrath

Dear Seller,

I only have a few minutes, but I understand you’re interested in what you can do to capture my attention and entice me to want to set up a meeting with you.

Let me say this loud and clear right now – you have no idea what my day is like. You may think you do, but you’re missing the boat. Until you understand this, my advice to you makes no sense.

I got into the office early this morning so I could have some uninterrupted time to work on a major project – something I can’t seem to squeeze into the normal business day, which is filled with back-to-back meetings.

But, by 9 a.m. all my good intentions were dashed. My boss asked me to drop everything to get her some up-to-date information on a major reorganization initiative. Product development informed me that our new offering won’t be available for the upcoming tradeshow. Sales is already in an uproar because they have customers waiting for it. Then HR tells me that one of my key employees has been accused of cyber-stalking.

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Starting to get the picture? Welcome to my world of everyday chaos where, hard as I try to make progress, I keep slipping behind. Right now, I have at least 59 hours of work piled on my desk, needing my attention. I have no idea when I’ll get it all done.

Did I mention my how many emails I get daily? Over 100. Everyone copies me in on everything. It drives me crazy. Then, add to that at least 30 phone calls – many from vendors who want to set up a meeting with me. And the pile of junk mail I get each day is ridiculous.

In short, I have way too much to do, ever-increasing expectations, impossible deadlines and constant interruptions from people wanting my time or attention.

Time is my most precious commodity and I protect it at all costs. I live with the status quo as long as I can – even if I’m not happy. Why? Because change creates more work and eats up my time.

Which gets us back to you. In your well-intentioned but misguided attempts turn me into a “prospect,” you fail woefully to capture my attention. I’m going to be really blunt here: I could care less about your product, service, solution or your company.

I’m not one bit interested in your unique methodologies, extraordinary differentiators or one-stop shopping. Your self-serving pablum, while designed to lure me into your clutches, has the exact opposite impact.

It’s trash talk! I quickly scan your emails or letters looking for those offensive words and phrases that glorify your offering or your firm.

The minute they jump out at me, you’re gone. Zapped from my inbox or tossed into the trashcan. When you talk like that in your voicemails, I delete you immediately. Delete, delete, delete.

That’s the most expeditious way to handle bothersome telemarketers. Use those same words on the phone with me and I’ll quickly raise an objection you can’t address.

I’m a master at sniffing out trash talk and deleting it. I have work to do and refuse to waste even one iota of my time on something that’s irrelevant or self-promotional.

You need to know though that I’m not always like this. Occasionally a savvy marketer or seller captures my attention, gets me to raise my hand asking for more information and even entices me to request a meeting.

What are they doing? They’re completely focused on my business and the impact they can have on it. That’s what’s relevant to me – not their offering.

I’m always interested in ways to shorten time to market, speed up our sales cycles and reduce our supply chain costs. Notice that this is business talk, not marketing speak!

When you get even more specific and tell me how much impact, now you’re really talking my language. I guarantee that if you mention you’ve helped organizations similar to mine increase sales conversion rates by 39% in just 3 months, I’ll be on the phone to you in no time flat.

Do you have any good information or fresh insights about the challenges my company is facing? How about how other companies are addressing these issues? If so, I’m interested in that too.

That’s the good stuff. It stems from a focus on the difference you can make for my company, instead of how you’re different from every one else. When you emphasize that, I’m interested.

But you can’t rope me in with the good stuff, then slip back into that trash talk. If so, you’re gonzo as fast as I can hit the delete button.

I pay attention in about 5 second increments, too. I don’t have time for fluff. If it’s relevant info, you’ve got me; start meandering and I hit delete.

Get the picture? I hope so, because I’m late for a meeting and while I’ve been writing this, the phone’s been ringing off the hook.

Hope this helps!

Your Prospective Customer