How to sell more without spamming your customers


We all know persistence is an important part of sales, but there are lines salespeople often cross. FASA member Penquin shows how you can still grow your sales without harassing or spamming your customers.

Spamming your database will soon become a thing of past with new privacy policies such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) already rolled out, and South Africa’s POPI (Protection of Personal Information Act) coming soon. Customers are less trusting of businesses, making it harder to earn their trust and loyalty. You don’t want to lose that trust by spamming them with SMSes, emails and calls, trying to meet your sales targets.

Bulk email vs SPAM

First, we should define exactly what SPAM is as it often gets confused with bulk marketing emails. According to Everlytic, bulk email is “a similar/generic message sent out to a group of people who have either signed up to receive these communications or perhaps are already an existing customer.” Bulk email is generally never sent more than once.

SPAM, on the other hand, is communication a person never agreed to receive or is from an untrusted source. SPAM is usually identified by Internet Services Providers (ISPs) by looking at anonymity, if it contains inappropriate content and if it is a phishing scam, which Everlytic defines as “an attempt to receive confidential information for malicious reasons by posing as a brand.”

People, not personas

Your sales team must remember that your customers are also people so, sell to them the way you would want to be sold a product or service. What should be at the core of every brand is to talk to your customers as humans and serve helpful content, products and services. With that being said, the hard sell still has to come in, to turn leads into customers and move them further down the sales funnel. However, remember that the smallest part of marketing is the hard sell so don’t focus your entire sales force on this aspect alone. The hard sell only comes in once you’ve established a relationship with your customer and understand their current state. You can read more on that kind of selling in our problem-centric selling blog.

Serving your customers emails with titles like “50% for this day only!” becomes not only aggressive and impersonal but also inauthentic. When a new mail arrives everyday saying “10% today, 20% today, 50% today” it cheapens the brand and makes the customer question which days discounts are actually valid vs which days I am getting ripped off. Consider serving your customers’ emails that give them value without putting a time constraint, such “Thanks for visiting our site today. Here’s a code for 10% off! This way you are still conveying the hard sell but in a smarter way, making the customer feel valued and appreciated.

Relevancy is key

When contacting your potential customers, there are three things HubSpot says should be in every message – “Firstly why you are contacting the prospect, secondly, why you are contacting them now, and lastly, you should ask for something you want that is easy and quick to complete.” I would say you should ask for something that you need so that this will help you serve better content to customers going forward.

When a potential customer signs up to your newsletter or blog, it doesn’t mean that they want to know everything about your business right away. They signed up for a specific product or service that your company offers, so only serve them the information that is relevant to what they signed up for.

For example, I’ve bought books before on and I get served emails on book suggestions similar to the books I’ve purchased before. It’s not often that I receive this email, and the information is relevant to me, so I welcome their recommendations.

Tracking your website analytics on the activity of your customers is the best indication of what they are interested in and, where you could show off your company’s other services and products through the sidebar or a read more link.

A healthy database

The worst thing you can do for your company is to buy a database. For many businesses, the first port of call is to buy a database, when they want to increase engagement and lead generation. Our sister company, Spitfire Inbound, sums up why buying a database is a bad idea by saying “it’s the equivalent of digitally cold-calling or spamming people.” You risk many things by purchasing a database such as your email deliverability and brand reputation.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to databases is to respect the consent of your customers and not to share their information. Policy and legislation such as GDPR and South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) have been created to prevent intrusive marketing, which includes not sending emails to people who are no longer opted-in to your database.

Everlytic sums well by saying “Compliance with the GDPR, as with the POPI Act, is all about data management.” Every company should be able to record the when, why and how their data was collected and being able to show it is being used for its original purpose. Invest in the correct systems and software and make sure your company has a well-equipped team for data management.

A healthy database should have regular attrition or decay. One of Dharmesh’s top quotes from his Inbound 18 keynote address was “Don’t block the exit! If you make cancellation easy, it adds fluidity to your flywheel.” The HubSpot Flywheel has replaced the traditional funnel, as pictured below, to ensure that sales and marketing teams remain customer-centric.

You need to ensure your database is “clean” by emailing inactive customers the option to opt-out. If they do decide to opt-out, honour that and don’t simply add them to another database that they never opted in for. Honouring their wish to unsubscribe shows how your business continues to put customers first and treat them as people and not just numbers.

At the end of the day, customers, marketers and salespeople are all human, and no one wants to be harassed to spend their money and their time on something they have no interest in. Keep that in mind, and your sales force won’t come across as harassing your customers.

Veronica Wainstein

Penquin is a 360° results-driven agency We offer unique solutions that connect people and make them feel part of something bigger. Experiences are the soul of our creative thinking. They inspire us to tell stories that stir emotions, instil belief, and help you build long-lasting, authentic relationships with your customers.

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