What do you get when you cross a managed services provider with an unsolicited email?
In our experience, you can get everything from a new client to a creatively aggressive response like this one:
We had to blur out some pretty overt hate speech in this reply.
This isn’t all that surprising. We’ve all seen someone go absolutely ballistic because they got an introductory email or a marketing-related message on social media.
Unsolicited emails waste your time and crowd up your inbox, so flipping out when you see them is perfectly acceptable behavior.
Or is it?
The hatred for unsolicited marketing has to do with our distaste for negative externality — meaning that we don’t want to burden the cost of something that we didn’t want, ask for, or in no way benefit from. In a way, we view solicitation the same as second-hand smoke, pollution, or traffic congestion.
But is it really that bad?
I would argue that it’s not, and it’s not just because I’m a business owner that does marketing. Without a doubt, some ways of soliciting are better than others (we don’t do any blind emailing or bulk social media messaging). And there actually are some benefits to getting spam, too.
Before continuing, let’s take a look at the Facebook thread that inspired this post:
Our head of Sales Enablement, Jamie Williams, shared this with me along with her opinions of the situation.
Her first comment?
“I can’t imagine anyone who gets this mad at salespeople is doing very well at selling.”
And I tend to agree. If you can’t understand what active prospecting and selling looks like, you’re probably not too good at sales, right? And if you think that marketing is some kind of horrible violation, you’re probably not doing any of yourself.
Someone in the thread made a very cogent point to that effect:
But as you can see, the naysayers turned it negative. And this is coming from someone who, if they’re an MSP like they claim to be, makes money by sitting people down and trying to sell them something. Literally what he’s getting pissed about.
Be glad that most people aren’t like this guy. If every consumer was a jerk who just gorged themselves on free lunches then ghosted, no MSP would be in business.
Another thing Jamie pointed out is that these people are choosing to take time out of their day to complain about it. At least 50 when we took the screenshot — and only one person, the OP, actually had a grievance about this specific message.
You can definitely make the negative externality claim that spam is a waste of time. But if you voluntarily take time to group up and complain about it after the incident is already over, it’s safe to say you’re choosing to let it waste your time.
It takes less than a second to say “no”, click “unsubscribe”, or ignore a message. Don’t be someone who wastes time trying to rally a posse and get more people to chime in on how much they hate spam. Just move on.
Negative externality is the concept responsible for normalizing content marketing. The idea is that if you provide value in your marketing communications, you negate the issue of “burdening” the consumer.
But wait… Didn’t I say something about getting something valuable from these solicitations?
Yeah, that’s a real possibility. First of all, if you’re an MSP, it’s not a bad idea to know a little bit about sales and marketing. You can benefit from reading the marketing content that’s coming your way. There are learning opportunities here. Often it’s a lesson in what not to do, but knowledge is knowledge.
There’s still the most obvious potential benefit: the thing they’re trying to sell you might actually benefit you. You have to believe that the chance exists, because you’re spending every day trying to sell something that would benefit the consumer.
Not everything that’s pitched to our company is a winner. Not by a long shot. But if we raged and sent hateful emails to everyone who tried to sell us something, we would have missed out on the few calls that were worth being on.
A final note about why we’re even talking about this:
The MSP space is loaded with people who don’t appreciate how important sales is to a company. There are many MSPs who think sales is just a soft skill that anyone can do — not a profession that requires a certain amount of dedication and talent — and their growth suffers for it. It’s far better to appreciate the hustle of a salesperson than to get pissed off because they tried to talk to you. That attitude will carry over to your own business.