I receive a lot of introductory emails and calls. Unfortunately for the well-intended, hard-working individuals behind the outreach, most are really bad. How do I characterize bad? I can tell the following within the first five to ten seconds of reading them:

  • They want and need something from me (my time, my effort, my business).
  • They want to “show” or “prove” to me what my business is missing or needs.
  • They want to compare my business to all the other companies they work with and share a story of how they were the hero for others and can be a hero for me.
  • They suggest that my business has no shot of success unless I speak with them.
  • They promise an elusive, unnamed competitive advantage.

The hyperbole makes promises before ever even speaking to me. For any of these approaches to work, I would have to have already determined that I need their services, and I have the time, ability and willingness to prioritize a review. Every now and then a crappy email can be met with good timing. But the chances are slim.

Outreach that proves and promises tells your prospect that you have an underlying self-interest, and that you will bring little objectivity into a conversation with them. You’re committed to your own expertise. But guess what? Prospects want to sit with people committed to them. Prospects will protect themselves by disqualifying you on the basis of your self-serving emails, even if they could truly benefit from your expertise and services. When initiating new conversations, here are a few phrases to avoid. Kill Phrases. They broadcast to the prospect that any time spent with you is all about you and not them.

Avoid These Kill Phrases

  • “Let me (us) show you…”

    “Show” is synonymous with “sell.” The prospect knows what’s really being said. If they invite you in, you are going to try and prove, persuade, and promise your way into convincing them of something that requires them to make a change. Why? Because you’re already convinced that your solution is better before you’ve even sat down with them and listened to their needs. It’s not a debate of whether your offer and expertise could help – they don’t even get that far. It’s about the stress and pressure of change – and that becomes the kill switch. You don’t get the invite.

  • “I’d like or love to…”

    This simple phrase makes the remainder of the sentence and possibly the whole email all about you. “I’d like to come by and introduce myself.” Read those words out loud. This is what you want. For a prospect, this elicits an automatic response like, “If I accept his invite, I’m going to be sold to.” Your prospect’s avoidance intensity will be amped up several notches if and when the following is added, “I’d like to take a few minutes of your time and make an introduction.” The kill switch here is your request to take their time to serve your needs. You’re trying to position a sale or, from their perspective, a waste their time.

  • “Move forward…”

    You haven’t even been invited in for the first meeting and you’re already hinting at next steps. From your prospects’ point of view, the phrase is laden with premature expectation and commitment. How do you think this impacts their view of you as an objective consultant who can help their business? The result is likely avoidance, unless of course your timing is excellent and serendipitous.

There is no perfect introductory email to avoid a quick disqualification. However, there are small word adjustments you can make that will help reduce your prospect’s filtering of your intent. Remember, most prospects don’t want to sit through your sales efforts. They don’t want to feel like they are on the hook to stumble and struggle through a process of debating a change they’re not ready for.

If you want to increase your initiating effectiveness – don’t make your outreach about you, your expertise, or your company. Make your introduction about determining “how” and “if” you can help them.