Sales and Sales Management Blog

January 2, 2011

Seller, Get Your SPAM Out of Your Prospect’s Email Box

Do you use email to try to connect with new prospects?  If you do—or if you’re thinking about starting—you might want to take into consideration what one of my clients had to say about prospecting through email:

“I used to get an occasional email with a subject line such as “Meeting Request” once a week, maybe three or four times a month.  Although I thought it a bit cheeky since the salesperson and I hadn’t talked, it really didn’t bother me. 

“Now I’m getting those emails 15 or 20 times a week.  They’re all the same—‘my product is great, will save you (or make you) a ton of money, I’d like a few minutes to introduce you to my product/service.  Please let me know what would be a good time to connect with you.’

“Lately I’ve also noticed that the salespeople are getting more deceptive in their subject line with lines such as ‘RE: Meeting Request,’ like we’ve already exchanged emails about this; or, ‘Per Your Request,’ as though I had spoken with the salesperson and requested them email me to set up a time.

“I consider anything in my email box that comes to me unsolicited or from someone I don’t know to be SPAM.  Anyone who invades my email box will never get an appointment.  If they have no more professionalism than to SPAM me, they certainly won’t get my attention or my business.”

This from the CEO of a mid-size manufacturing company with offices in 12 states.  Robert’s company would be a great client for most any salesperson—they are making money and aren’t afraid to spend it on the right products and services.  My client is a fairly easy guy to connect with.  But if you invade his email box you won’t be connecting with him.  If you’re part of the 300 to 400 emails he gets a day, you better have made your connection through some other means or you’re just going to get deleted with prejudice. 

Like Robert, I—and probably most business owners and managers reading this—have been getting more and more of these meeting request emails.  I now get at least one every day, often two or more.

The question is: is using email to make an initial connection a legitimate way to connect or is it, as Robert believes, an invasion of privacy?  And whether or not it is a legitimate connection method, is it worth the potential ill will it can create?

I don’t have a definitive answer.  But I decided to ask just a few business owners and executives what their reaction to these emails is.  It was a very small poll—22 men and women from various parts of the country and from various industries.

The results:

10 never notice these types of emails because they automatically delete anything from those they don’t know or aren’t expecting

7 automatically delete any email that appears to be a solicitation of any kind, including a meeting

5 will open these types of emails.  3 of the five will read long enough to determine no interest—their estimate two to three seconds; 2 will read virtually the whole email.  One has actually responded to a meeting request.

To put these in numbers:

45% automatically delete any email from anyone they don’t know

Another 32% automatically delete any email that appears to be a solicitation

77% will delete the email without ever opening it

23% will open the meeting request email

     The sender has 2 to 3 seconds to capture the attention of 60% of these email openers

     40% of the openers will read the email (9% of the 22 surveyed)

     20% of the openers have actually responded to a meeting request email (5% of the 22)

Of the 17 who deleted the email without ever opening it, how many consider it SPAM and how many have a negative impression of the sender?

13 of the 17 consider the email to be SPAM (59% of the 22)

15 of the 17 have a negative impression of the sender (68% of the 22)

Is creating a negative impression in 68% of the people you try to connect with via email wise?  Maybe it is if your prospecting strategy is strictly based on a numbers game—blast the world with as many emails as possible and somebody will respond and to hell with those who don’t. 

But if your prospecting activity is based on a well thought out strategy of finding and connecting with high quality prospects you probably can’t afford to burn 68% of them.

Before you queue up that list of prospects to blast with your meeting request email, consider whether or not there is a better way to connect with them.  As more and more people get fed up with the hundreds of pieces of SPAM they get every day, your piece of email that is so important to you is more and more often considered unwelcome and rude SPAM.  Is that the impression you really want to make?



  1. Totally agree. Sick of them and think they’re totally ineffecttive. Maybe the old get off your butt and go see someone face to face or ay least refererred by a friend might be the way to go.I think everyone’s on information overload. Maybe back to the future.

    Comment by Billy Cox — January 2, 2011 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  2. I believe these emails are a waste of time. There are many other ways to connect. You need to bring value to that person – whether you forward them an industry article that might be of interest or figure out a better business networking ideas

    Comment by Kathy — January 2, 2011 @ 11:38 pm | Reply

  3. Billy and Kathy, thank you for your comments.

    As sometimes happens with blog posts, I’m getting some very supportive emails from business owners and execs–and some very nasty ones from a few salespeople. Seems that there are some salespeople who just don’t get it and want to cling to easy, non-threatening prospecting methods no matter what. Wish they’d post here in public as it would make for an interesting discussion.

    Comment by Paul McCord — January 6, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

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