9 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Online Sales Efforts

Email sales is more and more common, and as a result, it's less and less effective. But with just a little bit of effort, you can make sure it fails for you. Here's how.

Stever Robbins
8-minute read
Episode #435

Mistake #5: Botching the basics

Amusingly, I’ve never received an offer of custom content writing that was written in full, grammatical, English sentences. If you aren’t a native speaker of your prospect’s language, hire someone who is to edit your letter. Telling me you “write good” so I should “hire you for top content that is audience happy” is not going to impress me. Sending a cover letter in my language and my style is going to get my attention, pronto. (And by the way, if you can take an outline from me and produce an article written in my writing style, I want to know you! Now!)

Mistake #6: Using the wrong communication channel

Be clear: when someone puts a “contact me if you want to hire me” email address on their website, that is not a request to opt-in to your email list. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite: their contact info is so you can buy from them. If you’re not writing to buy something from them, you’re completely wasting their time. So don’t be surprised when they ask for your credit card number, to compensate them for the time they wasted reading an inappropriate sales pitch from someone who doesn’t understand what a web form is for. Don’t be that inappropriate person! Sending a sales pitch to someone else’s sales email address is rude, inconsiderate, and frankly, makes you look like a total nincompoop. Emphasis on the poop.

If you want to contact someone from their web site, look for a “press inquiries” or corporate contact number. Then do the work to find out who the right person is at that organization, and contact them that way. Is it work? Yes. But it might make a good impression. Sending a sales pitch to an inbound sales email just makes you look clueless. “Clueless” worked for Alicia Silverstone’s career, but you aren’t as pretty as she is, nor are you as good an actor.

Mistake #7: Using the wrong name

My name is Stever. That’s Steve-with-an-R. Now I understand that someone might not realize that. After all, it’s only in my domain name, my email address, my Facebook page, my Twitter feed, 435 episode sign-ons, 435 episode signoffs, my book cover, my Amazon author profile, my LinkedIn profile, my Harvard Business School Working Knowledge articles, and my ABC News Now, CNN, Newsweek, and MSNBC appearances. So I can see how someone might miss that. Sending me an email that starts “Dear Steve” just won’t work. If you want to convince someone you can do a good job, but you can’t even get their name right, you won’t be very convincing. 

Mistake #8: Treating your prospect like the commodity that you are

When you’re making a request that someone share your content with their audience, you’re asking for access to their audience and you want to piggy-back on their reputation. Don’t be the person who puts the “pig” into “piggy-back.”

Think about that. Make sure your content fits their topic and their quality level. And frankly, make sure it’s not a piece of trite crap, which so many articles are. Leading by being authentic? Yawn. Not only is it trite, but actual leadership research says it’s flat-out wrong.

Leading by being authentic? Yawn.  Not only is it trite, but actual leadership research says it’s flat-out wrong.

Is this a high bar? Of course. You’re asking for access to someone else’s audience and reputation. You have to earn that, and you don’t get it just because you think you’re a wonderful special snowflake. You actually have to be a wonderful special snowflake, which is really quite difficult. But you don’t deserve to be retweeted if you’re trying to pass off commodity sludge as fine art. If you don’t make the grade, you need to step up your game. 

Mistake #9: Asking for free work

If you want someone to write for your publication, pay them. Asking for free content because you don’t have your own ideas, knowledge, or anything of worth to offer the world sucks. And using their incoming web form for business inquiries to ask them to work for free just makes you look unprofessional. And by unprofessional, I mean it makes you look like a rank amateur. Emphasis on the “rank.” 

You expect to be paid for doing your worthless, commodity, non-valuable job. The idea that you would ask someone who actually does produce something of value to work for free simply underscores your own lack of moral worth. If your business can’t afford to pay the people who produce its value, then it isn’t a business, it’s a hobby that depends on exploitation. It—and you—deserve to fail. 

Flame off! 

Rest easy. I’m back to my friendly, happy-go-lucky self who sees nothing but the best of intentions and the deep, shared humanity that makes all of us worthwhile human beings.

The more people sell products and services through inbound email sales, the more the recipients get overloaded. The more they’re overloaded, the harder it is to get their attention. So now it’s time to step up your game. Customize your incoming email to show you know who the person is, why they would want your product, and how they’ll benefit. 

Email is being ruined in no small part by inbound email sales. The result is that inbound email sales is becoming less effective 

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have Extraordinary Lives and extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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