Dear Salespeople That Straight Pitch Me,
While I consider you my sisters and brothers, we need to talk.
Every day, you fill my inbox and my LinkedIn inbox with notes
straight pitching me what you sell. No one wants you to succeed in
sales as much as I do, including you, and whomever it was that
taught you that pitching over email is your best choice for
acquiring new clients or customers.
While there is nothing inherently
wrong with pitching under the right circumstances pitching
strangers without any context or conversation is extremely poor
form. An approach that starts with pitching is what one does when
they either don’t know better or when they hold weak beliefs,
specifically the idea that everyone is a prospect (everyone is not
As far as one can tell, the negative feedback and poor results
do nothing to persuade you to change your approach. Please accept
my advice in the spirit in which I deliver it, as one who wants you
to succeed in sales if that is indeed the path you have chosen.
Selling Is Other-Oriented. You Are Self-Oriented.
When you pitch your product or service by describing what you
sell in the first paragraph of your email, you project that your
email is about nothing more than you gaining a sale. Your approach
has a significant problem that causes most people to tune you out.
Your first problem is that you repel people because you appear to
When the sale you make is about you, it’s about the result
that you want for you. You would improve your approach by focusing
your conversation about what your client wants and needs, their
challenges, their opportunities, and their goals. Acquiring what
you want is only possible when you help someone else get what they
want, as Zig never tired of reminding us.
You will improve your approach by becoming other-oriented.
Instead of focusing on straight pitching people, you might spend
the time to understand their world, develop a theory about what
they might be struggling with, and develop an approach that speaks
to what they might want. You’ll also want to slow down.
Don’t Sell Too Soon.
If what you sell is something people buy all the time, and if
there is no serious consequence for making a mistake, by all means,
pitch away. Maybe you sell batteries in a convenient store, the
example Rackham provided in SPIN Selling. There is no reason not to
ask for a sale if there can be no adverse consequences.
When the opposite is true, when your prospect doesn’t make the
purchase decision you are going to ask them to make frequently, and
when bad choices come with significant consequences, pitching means
you are selling too soon.
When you pitch in email or Linkedin, requesting a meeting at the
end of the note does nothing to mitigate the fact that your
approach is transactional, as are all “spray and pray”
approaches to sales. To sell a prospective client, you first have
to create an opportunity by prospecting.
If you want a better, modern approach to prospecting, please see
Mike Weinberg’s New Sales Simplified, Jeb Blount’s Fanatical
Prospecting, Mark Hunter’s High-Profit Prospecting, Tony
Hughes’s Combo Prospecting. Also, please read the first three
chapters of Eat Their Lunch
for a consultative approach for complex B2B sales, especially one
that requires you to displace a competitor to win new
customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their
And then, there is the question about the value you create.
No Value Creation
B2B selling has changed quite a bit over the last decade. You
may have heard advice about “social selling” or “the digital
transformation of sales,” or some other overhyped fad that
captured salespeople’s attention by promising that the new
toolkit would make selling easier.
For all of my criticism of social, no one who believed in
“social selling” would recommend you pitch people directly. The
first rule of social selling is to do no selling. No one would
train or teach you to do what you are doing now.
One of the most substantial changes in sales has been the b2b
buyer’s expectations about the value they expect salespeople to
create through the process. Your email does nothing to create value
for the contacts you spam each day. There are several prerequisites
to creating value.
First, you have to possess the business acumen to be able to
understand your business, your contact’s business, and the
intersection that is how you create value for them. These things
are necessary to consultative sales. Second, you need to trade
something of value for the time you are asking your contact to give
The only thing you need to sell at the start of your
relationship with a connection is a meeting. Please watch this video
about trading value above the time you are asking your contact
to give you.
It is poor form to sell over email in your first communication
with a contact. A contact is not a prospect, and you will not
create an opportunity before you acquire a meeting. It will be
helpful for you to think about this as “sell the meeting,”
process,” and then “sell your solution.” Reversing the
order here also reverses the outcome.
Stop Taking Bad Advice About Lead Generation
Almost daily, I receive an email pitch from someone who wants to
mine LinkedIn for qualified leads. The people sending these notes
mistakenly believe that anyone upright, breathing, with a body
temperature in the neighborhood of 98.6 degrees, they’re a
prospect. Why they think people want to spam other people as a way
to acquire the new relationships that might result in a new
opportunity is baffling. Please stop taking bad advice about lead
B2B salespeople, please do your homework. Read books, take
courses, get the training and development you need to succeed in
sales. Become someone people want to buy from, not someone that
repels people by spamming them over email and LinkedIn.
What You Need to Know About Pitching Over Email appeared first
on The Sales Blog.