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Business mistakes: Start slow when you pitch

Yesterday, I wrote a post over on LinkedIn Pulse about how not to pitch me with your products and wares, and it was a reaction to an interaction I had just a few minutes before where someone had no idea how to take no for an answer.

When it comes to business of any kind, first impressions really matter.

For the first time I can remember, I actually had to tell the person to stop emailing me. No response after that, no apology or anything. And believe me, I will not be using that company for anything in the future. And here’s the terrible thing. The product could have been good and the relationship could have been fruitful, but only under other circumstances. This was this person’s first — or you could say second — impression and it was blown so badly.

When it comes to responding to business pitches via email or social media, I’m one of the good guys. I almost always reply, even if I’m not interested or can’t do what’s being asked of me. I know from firsthand experience what it feels like to be ignored and I hate it, so I don’t wish that on anyone else. And that’s why I take the time to respond.

In this particular case, I responded originally to a cold call. I hate cold calls. But anyone, I picked up the phone, listened to what the person had to say and explained that the flowchart of our company would make it so they would have to go through another department in another location. I said I would be happy to pass along the information to them, which I did not 5 minutes after hanging up the phone.

A few days later, I get an email from that person’s colleague, telling me why I need to listen up because what this company has is amazing. I think it talked about me no longer aging and being able to withstand snake venom, but I can’t remember for sure. Anyhow, I wrote back and explained exactly what I mentioned to that person and to you earlier. And then another email, just to make sure the email got back “to the top of my inbox” and to tell me that despite how my company works, I’ll still want to pay attention because I can’t afford not to pay attention.

scott-kleinberg-seinfeldWhoa. Slowwwwwwwwwww down.

This experience did not have to go this way. As I told the person originally, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can only assume that if the person I forwarded the information to was interested he or she would reach out. I mean, what else can I say? And that was the truth. After this experience, I reached out to the person I forwarded the information to to warn them of the experience I had, not in spite in any way, but because I would hate for anyone I know to be treated like this, especially when my name is involved. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to the person to whom I forwarded the info.

Amazing, when you think about the dominoes that had to fall to go from phone call to this point. All they had to do was wait and see. And remember: This is the holiday season, so people are off and budgets aren’t finalized for the next year. They weren’t asking for us to pay anything, as it was all informational, but that isn’t the point. Perhaps there was some sort of year-end quota at play, I don’t know. But it was uncomfortable and you can believe that if I ever need the goods and services this company offers – I don’t think I will, but if I do — I won’t be using them.

Sad. Really sad.

So that’s what prompted me to write the post on LinkedIn with the headline “DO NOT pitch people like this — ever!” In it, I included a few points of order that may or may not be helpful to you. I’m linking to it here because there’s already a conversation started and I would love it if you would be a part of it. Of course, you can also be a part of the conversation here – you can never have too many conversations.

We all get pitched, so what are your rules? Do you prefer phone, email or social media? And what’s your rule for responding to a business? So many questions, so many interesting answers. Let me know in the comments, on the LinkedIn post or on Twitter.

Thanks.

About Scott Kleinberg

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