Quickly, go to your email and look at the last 10 unsolicited prospecting emails you’ve received, I’ll wait until you come back…….

Back already?

Let me guess, every single one of those emails started with something similar to:

  • “We are a world leading provider of …….”
  • “We are the best supplier of….”
  • “Our products/services are use by these great companies….”
  • “People interested in these issues [fill in whatever you choose] are always interested in learning about our solutions…”
  • “Our products will enable you to [insert whatever you want, including world peace, world hunger, and losing weight]”
  • Alternatively, it may be an invitation to a white paper, webinar, or something else in which they brag about themselves.

I’ve done a semi-scientific study of all the prospecting emails I get (and I get hundreds every week). 99.99% of them are about some product or company. They are all “giving me” the opportunity to talk to them, letting them brag more about themselves and their capabilities.

Too many of these are addressed to “Dear Occupant Or Current Resident,” they are really meaningless to me and our company, but it’s too much work to research, refine, and target the outreach when we can just endlessly send thousands of emails at the push of an Enter key.

The good news is that 0.1%–the well targeted, relevant, impactful emails really stand out! They capture my attention and engagement. Perhaps it’s not something critical now, but it’s something I’ll remember or something I’ll refer to someone else. Studying them, one thing common leaps out. They are all about me–at least my company, my industry, my customers/markets. They are helpful because they are about issues I am facing or may be facing. I learn something in these emails. Yes, I know they are trying to engage me in learning more about their products and services. But I’d be a fool not to!

In their engagement, they’ve demonstrated they’ve done their homework. They know the issues I’m facing–even though I may not know them. They are helping me learn, helping me improve and grow. I’m glad to consider their products and solutions to help grow our business!

Out of curiosity, I talk to this 0.1%–not just about how they can help me, but about their prospecting process. It’s remarkable, the stories are all the same.

They don’t sent out thousands of emails and messages. In many cases, it’s dozens to handfuls.

They are viciously focused on targeting their efforts. They know the profile of the prospect that’s most likely to respond. In building their campaigns, they focus on only those people and organizations, not wasting time on those that aren’t in their sweet spot.

They know what to say and how to engage these prospects with relevant insights. They’ve spent time talking to these people, they understand the businesses, markets, industries. They may have even seen something specific about me or our organization they leverage in their outreach. What they say feels intensely personalized and focused on me and my company.

They don’t talk about themselves. They make me and my business the center of what they are trying to do. They suggest they can help, tantalizing me with just enough to respond, “Tell me more.”

As we talk, I ask them about all the things we tend to measure about these programs, “What’s your bounce rate, what’s your open rate, what are your click-throughs, what’s your engagement rate, how many respond?” The numbers are stunning, by comparison to the 99.9%, the results they produce are orders of magnitude better than the 99.9%. Which is part of the reason they don’t need to focus on volumes.

Of course, their success is not surprising. We know what best practice is. We know we have to target the right customers if we are going to be impactful and engage prospects. We know we have to have messages that are relevant to our audience. We know we need to be customer focused–putting them at the center of what we do.

What continues to be stunningly surprising–and disturbing, the 99.9% know this, as well—or they should if they have any level of competence. Yet they fail to do what they know is right, they fail to do what they know produces results.

Perhaps, as my friend Charles Green puts it, “I’m just shoveling sand at the beach.”