No More Alligators! And Other Tips for Effective Sales Development

September 4, 2015

STOP IT…just stop…for the love of something please stop sending me your cookie-cutter prospecting emails. My level of frustration with the way emails are used by Sales Development Reps has been building over the last year. My inbox continues to overflow with them while the quality of the messages deteriorate daily.

I finally broke over the course of the last month when I received the same email template from THREE different SDR’s at THREE different companies over a THREE week span. Yes, that’s the truth. The same email from 3 different people selling three completely different technologies in the same month. To make matters worse, the email template sucked. It went a little something like this…


I’ve emailed you several times regarding (xyz technology) and how we could help QuotaFactory to improve (xyz thing they could improve). At this point I have to assume one of three things has occurred.

1. You are so busy being such a kick ass executive you simply don’t have the time to respond but you’d like me to send you an invite for a quick call next week to discuss.

2. You don’t care about solving (XYZ problem restated from above) for your organization.

3. You’ve been eaten by alligators on your Florida vacation.

Please respond with either “1, 2, or 3” and I will follow up accordingly. Looking forward to speaking.


Let’s dissect this email a bit.

First, the opening statement is boilerplate and boring. I literally get 50 emails a week with this opening line. One of the few good emails that I received recently had a better opening line that went like this: “Pete, I’ve failed at catching you live over the last two weeks. My goal is to speak for 5 minutes to determine if we can help with any CRM data issues you have. If we can, great. If we can’t, you won’t hear from me again”. She cut right to the point. In the first sentence I knew that if I gave her the time of day there was a chance I’d never have to speak to her again.

Second, and the most wretched part, the three choices. For shame…the three choices email. This email was about as funny as Sinbad in his heyday. (FYI, Sinbad sucked in his heyday.) It’s not cute, unique, or funny.

Choice 1 is smarmy and shameless. Yes, I am busy, but that doesn’t mean I need my ego stroked about it. Lame. Brown nosing doesn’t get you in the door. Respect for time, honesty, and brevity do.

Choice 2 is assumptive, slightly obnoxious, and borderlines on entrapment. If I agree with #2 then I’m admitting I don’t want to help my business. If I say I do care about solving that problem I am inviting this knob to email me more. Don’t paint a prospect into a corner. That’s not how you build rapport.

And finally Choice 3. The creme de la creme of crappy email prospecting. The old “alligators” line. Listen, I value my life. I have an awesome family with whom I love to vacation and you’ve just conjured up images of them mourning my violent death at the hands of a predator. Alligators are friggin terrifying. How could you possibly feel that getting me thinking about one of them eating me would elicit a positive response. Also, if I were eaten by alligators how would I respond to your email. I’m dead!!. Illogical and stupid and not funny….the hat trick!!! Humor in sales is an ace in the hole. Sadly, a sense of humor rarely comes across via emails sent to strangers. Stick to simple, concise, and easy to digest messages. Trying to get cute will invariably make you ugly.

This is no joke.

I felt so low after getting these emails. My team and I have spent 15 years defining high quality sales development and building an alumni network of former staffers that would NEVER do this. I thought we had made a positive mark on the sales development world. Well, it appears our work is not nearly done. Sales Development is at a crossroads. There is a new technology released every day geared towards the sales development function (we’ll be releasing ours in the coming weeks…stay tuned) and the overwhelming majority of them are simply incentivizing more and more emailing with less and less dialing.

Effective Sales Development lives, succeeds, and thrives when the phone is the priority and email is simply a tool used to generate more phone conversations. You have my word that all of the products we develop will always put the phone and phone skills first. Sales Development emails can be fantastic when employed sparingly, properly, and with respect and honesty. If these aren’t the hallmarks of your Sales Development emailing strategy then you need to reset.

We are not done on this topic as you’ll see a series of posts from me over the next couple of weeks. The remaining posts will be designed to help as opposed to just rant. Before I could embark on my mission to do my part to help this problem, I had to clear my head.

How do you ensure your SDR’s are using email to generate conversations and not hammer down appointments?

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