Archive for May 19th, 2009

Dissection of an Actual Cold Call Prospecting Email

Just about every other day I get an email from someone new in the industry wanting to me to hire them or asking for help in “seeking a Virtual Assistant job.”

I received one recently that was so ineffective that I thought it might be helpful to others to provide a dissection on why it wasn’t an attractive or compelling offer. We’ll take it line by line:

“To Whom It May Concern:”

Okay, right here, I’m already not getting any warm fuzzies. You took the time to scour the Internet for Virtual Assistant businesses, go to my website and harvest my email, but you can’t go that extra step and personalize your message to me? And you expect to get a response?

“I would like to inquire to see if you have any available positions at this time.”

This one is really frustrating to veterans like me.

First of all, if I had available “positions,” I would have advertised them, either directly on my website or on an employment site of some kind.

Unsolicited mail like this creates work, work I didn’t ask for and don’t want my time wasted on.

I don’t respond to these types of requests and find them especially irritating because Virtual Assistance is not a “position.” It’s a business and a profession.

And if I did hire someone, it’s going to be from amongst my colleagues whom I’ve gotten to know on forums and know something about their qualification and competence. It’s definitely not going to be a stranger I don’t know from Adam or Eve who, by the way, provided no website and only a free email account.

“As you’ll see on my attached resume, which includes a link to my online portfolio, I have the professional experience, and track record for which you are searching.”

Um, you don’t even know whether I’m offering any available positions at this time so how on earth do you presume to know what I’m searching for?

I have no interest in resumes, especially ones I didn’t ask for. I look for professionals, not employees. A resume is just a bunch of words on a page. They mean absolutely nothing to me. I want to see competence and skill and critical thinking and qualification demonstrated in action. This email is a perfect example of those things NOT being demonstrated in any way.

“In addition, I am motivated and enthusiastic, and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your company’s success.”

Part of my company’s success is not expending valuable time and resources dealing with these kind of frivolous email blasts. And if I were an employer, I wouldn’t care what you would appreciate. Instead, you should be showing me that you understand what I would appreciate.

“I am excited that you are offering this as a telecommuting position.”

Um, hello?! Knock, knock. Anyone home in there? You don’t even know if I’m offering any positions. And it most certainly isn’t telecommuting. Don’t contact people unless you are going to be using your brain. This is not engendering any warmth or confidence in me for your thinking ability, competence or attention to detail. In fact, all I’m thinking it that you have a box of rocks for brains.

“Its the most cost-effective way your business can go green without the quality of your work suffering. By maintaining a 100% virtual status I save:

  • 203 gallons of gasoline, or $914 per year
  • 2,071 barrels of crude oil per year
  • 1.785 metric tons of CO2 (the principal greenhouse gas) per year
  • I can be 100% paperless – everything is on my computer
  • In addition to less paper, there is a considerable amount of ink and toner saved by not using printers and copy machines. All cartridges used are recycled and kept OUT of our landfills.
  • Less energy is used because my business doesn’t need a bricks-and-mortar location. Everything is handled virtually.
  • In addition, you don’t pay for office expenses such as utilities, desk, chair, computer and the office space itself.”

First of all, know your audience. You’re preaching to the choir, sweetie. I’m already a virtual business owner, not to mention an industry veteran. Don’t you think I already know this stuff?

I live and breath these stats every day inside and out. Don’t waste my time by making me read irrelevant information that is of no consquence to me. It’s completely useless in showing me why I’d want to work with you. And I certainly don’t care about how much it will save you and your business.

And seriously, everyone is going overboard with the green thing. It’s a tired, repetitive conversation and only hits on features. You spent the better part of your letter explaining something that doesn’t tell me anything I’m interested in or show me anything in the way of how my business or life would be improved by working with you. All you’ve shown is how uninformed you are.

“Then there are benefits expenses including, vacation time, sick time, and insurance coverage. Working virtually I am, as an independent contractor, responsible for those costs. As your virtual employee, you pay for my hourly rate and reimburse for any costs incurred for the job (mailing costs, etc.)”

Now, maybe this is just me personally, but this shows a level of ignorance that is just so completely unattractive to me. Virtual Assistants who are serious about their profession and having it taken seriously really resent the confusion this kind of statement causes.

Virtual Assistants are not employees. Telecommuters are employees. So which are you? Because if you’re an independent contractor, you’re not an employee so please stop calling yourself that. Those kind of ignorant statements especially piss me off because they are responsible for the continuing miseducation of our marketplace, for setting the wrong expectations and for making things even harder for real Virtual Assistants trying to get clients to understand more accurately what their relationship will look like and how they will be working together. You are causing these Virtual Assistants that I care about problems. Of course, there will certainly be clients only too ready and willing to exploit you and take advantage. But I’m not one of them. Someone at this level of business illiteracy is of no use to me whatsoever.

“Hiring me as your virtual employee is extremely economical for your company. When all is said and done, you spend nearly double the amount for an in-house employee than for a virtual one. Time is money. Hire me as your virtual employee and save on both. You are making a HUGE impact on the environment as a business owner or executive who hires virtually!”

Again with the virtual employee thing. Enough! You are either an employee or you’re running a business. One or the other. Get educated about that. The government wants its due. They don’t allow independent contractors to work with clients as if they were their employee. By making this statement, if I were a client and I were ignorant about this as well, you have just caused me a huge potential legal liability. Because if my state or the IRS decides to audit me and finds that I’m working with a contracter like an employee, it’s me who will be forced to pay all the back taxes, benefits and penalties.

“TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE! I look forward to speaking to you soon, thank you in advance for your time and consideration.”

Not hardly. All you’ve done is wasted my time and patience.