As a business owner, I am constantly receiving offers to loan me money or sell me the latest solution to a problem they are certain that I have and they can solve, even though they have never met me.  This is amazing to me.  I see the same thing on LinkedIn.  I receive connection requests that immediately is followed by a sales pitch.

One example of this is a message I received right after accepting a connection request: 

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the connection, I wanted to ask you a quick question.  Do you owe the IRS over $10,000 in tax debt?

I operate a national tax firm that specializes in tax resolution and also provides tax preparation, tax planning, budgeting and retirement planning and for both individuals and business owners.  We also help business owners that share your Accounting background to streamline their accounting and bookkeeping processes which makes it a hassle-free, accurate and easier experience for you and your business.  Do mornings or afternoons work best for your schedule?

I suggested he should look at my profile and my website.  He never responded.

Since this was one of the most obvious misses, let’s use it as an illustration.   In this case, the salesman assumed that an Enrolled Agent, who would lose his license if he had such a debt, might have a substantial debt.  He also assumed that he knew how my accounting practice works.

Had this person looked at my profile before sending his pitch, it would have been obvious that this was a bad approach.  Had he used a different opening message, such as:

Hi Steve,

I do representation work and help accountants streamline their practices.  I don’t know if that is of interest to you.  Perhaps we could refer business to each other.  Would you be interested in a phone conversation?

He would have had a good chance at a conversation and possibly a networking opportunity. 

The business owner should look at any such offer and consider what is assumed.  Does this offer make assumptions of intimate knowledge without taking the time to get to know the business owner?  I reject such amateurs out of hand.  Our friend above knew beyond a doubt, in his mind, that he could improve my processes.  He also knew beyond a doubt, again in his mind, that I must be in trouble with the IRS. 

The point of this story is two-fold.  First, if, as a business owner, you receive such offers, reject them.  If you are interested in the service, make them earn your confidence and respect.  It is your money, first and foremost.  You are in the command position, keep it.

The second point is for the salesman who thinks such a script is a quick way to an easy sale.  I assume such a salesman is working off the rule of large numbers.  Send the same script enough times and you are bound to hit a payday. I have had discussions with people who attribute this activity to networking. 

The best networking is much like a close friendship.  The goal of the relationship is to help each other and get to know each other, not make a pitch.  Making a pitch without learning about the prospect is a waste of time.  The probability of a sale is miniscule and if that sale requires the sharing of detailed information, it is very unlikely.

In the same way, emails that start off with a statement that you are somehow eligible for a loan without knowing the prospects financials presume way too much knowledge.  They haven’t earned trust.  Don’t give them trust or any information. 

The business owner must be constantly aware of their financial status.  There is nothing free nor are there once in a life-time deals. It is only a good deal if the business owner would have made the purchase either way and the good deal brings value to  a purchase that would have happened either way. 

If you are in the business of sales, eschew the quick sales attempt.  Take the time to meet the prospect and learn about their business.  Work at earning trust before trying to extract money.  Help them to grow, refer business.  Once trust is earned, then, and only then, describe what you can do for a business. 

Business owners that I have talked to over these many years work very hard for the profits that they gain from their business.  In my business, I work to help them keep that money in their business.  I can only do this if I am a trusted advisor. 

To business owners receiving junk mail, written or electronic, or walk in salespeople who have the greatest answer to whatever problem they think you have, just say no.  Delete the email.  Throw the flyer away and tell the walk-in salesperson to leave. 

To those who sell for a living, learn to understand the business you are targeting.  Understand the industry.  Most importantly, understand the owner.  Treat that owner with respect and follow the adage, “God gave you two ears and one mouth.  That is a pretty good ratio.”  The biggest problem I see with salespeople is they talk too much and listen too little.  Those in the marketing, especially digital marketing, and the insurance industry seem to be the worst offenders.