How Not to Sweet Talk a Potential Client

Yesterday, I received an email from a company looking to do work for me. Items in quotes are directly from the email. Non-quoted items are my comments.

I apologize for intruding into your busy schedule. Please allow me to introduce ourselves.

Polite, but already off to a negative start. Says he is intruding. It might be better to say something along these lines: “I’m sure you’re very busy, so I’ll keep this short and to the point.”

We feel that your website can be improved substantially in terms of design, and shall be happy to undertake this for you.

Insult followed by the company’s delight in taking on my lousy site so it can get business for itself. “Substantially” makes my site sound like something leftover from the ’90s. Why would I want to hire a company I never heard of that’s already insulting my site without ever seeing it? This line is generic and the email is obviously a template. Oh, it doesn’t even address me — just says, “Hi”.
If it’s the truth — I appreciate the honesty as I’m always grateful when someone catches an error or typo here and lets me know. Perhaps, it would help to point out specifics to show why my site needs help. “The red doesn’t work because it comes across as such-n-such. The navigation needs a lift because of this.”
The next few paragraphs goes into the technologies covered, how smart and talented the employees are, and where the company is located — to clearly point out its ability to do cheap labor.
I love this, which appeared in the disclaimer after the person’s name:

Please note that we have not purchased your e-mail address from any commercial source. We have accessed it through primary research on the internet.

Yeah, and yet there is not one iota of information in the email showing the company did its research except find out my email address, which isn’t hard.
I looked at the web site and check out the portfolio. Half of the web sites look like leftovers from the ’90s. The other half resembles my site — basic, clean design. I wonder how the company would “improve” my site. If I had money to burn, I’d hire the company for kicks and see how it plays out.
The site claims it validates W3C HTML 4.01 Transitional and CSS. HTML, yes. CSS, no. Tables everywhere. This site uses XHTML and CSS for layout. I give the company credit for one thing — there’s no mention of content work. Just reading the site’s contents, you know this isn’t a company you want to hire for writing content.
Networking experts suggest doing research to find the right companies and the right person to contact. But when you do make contact, what do you say? You don’t want to start a relationship with a total stranger asking to take on work. Think of how you would build a relationship. Offer an email newsletter or offer to send a free report — something you can give them for free.
I still can’t picture cold calling (specific people) and trying to start a relationship. Maybe it has to do with my not being a natural telephone user. That’s why I appreciate online networking.

1 thought on “How Not to Sweet Talk a Potential Client”

  1. Let me take something back… starting with ““I’m sure you’re very busy, so I’ll keep this short and to the point” is a waste of time. In doing this, you’ve already wasted a sentence of the reader’s time. Thanks to Writer’s Digest newsletter for waking me up.


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