Cold Contacting vs. Spamming

By sheer chance, I received two solicitation emails this week. In both cases, I didn’t know the sender, I didn’t request information from them, and they are clearly trying to sell me their products. The approaches, however, were very different and as a result I would label one as a legitimate cold call via email, where as the other is just basically spam to me.


How To Cold Contact Someone

The first was from a sales representative at Google who was presumably contacting me to see if Curvio could benefit from advertising with them.

1. The intro

Good Afternoon, Wesley, Scott, and Stephanie!

(I apologize in advance for this blanket e-mail to you three, but I wanted to make sure I found the right contact!)

Starting off this way is perfect. His email reads as energetic and he’s clearly being considerate about trying to speak with the right person.

“If you searched the Internet, it would take hours. We’re a one-stop site where you can find anything you saw on that (specific) show.”

My name is XXXXXX, and I’m looking to speak with the marketing/business development team at Curvio!

He’s used a snippet from an article covering our recent launch to customize why he wants to talk to us. This is sounding very personal and again very energetic.

2. Why you contacted me

I work on a team here at Google that partners with higher-potential clients to help them grow their presence online, build their brand, and acquire new customers across Google (, YouTube, Google Display/Mobile/etc.).

Flattery will get you everywhere. It’s subtle, but who doesn’t like someone telling them that a team at Google views their startup as “higher-potential”? I have no illusions about what they are really thinking. I know they want to get us hooked on advertising with them so that if we do live up to our potential, we’ll be a huge client for them.

3. The hook

We read about Curvio in this article and would be interested in scheduling a call to learn more and see if we can help. Please let us know who the right contact might be and when would be best! I can be reached at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or via e-mail at

Great. I have two forms of contact information in case I prefer to talk to people immediately or reply via email. The focus is also on us– how can they help us? He’s getting me to think about possible ways to use their product. He also is trying to establish a personal relationship with me, which will further increase my desire to work with them.

Sure. Happy to setup a call and talk it over.

How NOT To Cold Contact Someone

The second email was a reference to a blog post I wrote on tools that can help you launch your startup.

1. The intro


I have a name. Why are you talking to me like you’re uncomfortable? The sweetest sound in the world to everyone is the sound of someone saying their own name. The same is true for emails.

This is Daniel from [some startup that I will not give free advertising because they spammed me]. I have come across this page ( on your website where you have featured “ToutApp”. I thought you might be also interested in our new service.

First off, I did not mention ToutApp. Some random commenter (actually I think it was the founder of Tout) posted a note that it was another helpful service for startups. I’m fine with that, by the way. TK saw that a discussion was going on and he thought his service was useful and should be included in the discussion.

Also, why are you being so boring? Seriously, spice it up! Get EXCITED! Exclamation marks make it seem like something interesting is going on!

Note: if you’re one of those cynical, contrarian people who are going to tell me that exclamation points, quotations, and catchy wording are all just superfluous, then I am going to go out on a limb and ask if you have ever successfully cold called anyone to sell a product. I’d be interested in knowing how you did it while using boring text.

2. Massive list of features

[Spammy startup] enables users to schedule emails to be sent later from Gmail. It is very easy to use after a small browser extension is installed. Then, a button with the label “Send Later” is added right next to the original “Send” button in Gmail. We are also in progress of adding more features like response tracking, improvements for sending large files, finding bulky attachments, email marketing etc.

Did I tell you I needed those features? Why do I care? Do you even know if I have a problem? Even if you think I use Tout (I don’t– sorry TK!), do you know how I use it? If you don’t know anything about me, how can you expect to know how your product will be useful to me?

3. Tons of external information

You may check our [website] and/or check out [this demo video].

Nope. Not interested in doing that. You’ve just basically emailed me to try to get me to visit your homepage. That’s the last straw in my spam filter.

4. The lazy hook

Please let me know if you would like to know more details about what we are doing also please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

And how should I do that? I like to call people and talk to them about these things. Email is slow and tedious, but you did not include a number at which to reach you. Also, why would your email leave me with any questions? I’m not excited because you’re not excited. You also sent me so much external information that I now feel like it’s a chore to learn about your product.


I’m not a good salesman. I’ve blown more sales than I have closed. Still, I can appreciate a successful sales pitch when I see one. At the end of the day, sales is about people, not products. The Google rep wants to know how they can help us. He’s a person trying to help another person (or group of people in the case of Curvio). The spam rep is trying to get me to use his product. He’s not interested in us or our problems. He just wants to try and funnel me into his website so he can sell me his service.

And for that, I’ll happily provide free marketing to his competitor.

If you liked this article, please upvote it on Hacker News. You should also follow me on Twitter and my startup Curvio on AngelList.

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  1. The Google email used several good sales techniques but the “spammy startup” one isn’t all that bad (based on your points). I struggled to convince myself that you would have judged accordingly if the originating companies of the emails swapped.

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