Basic Rules of Prospecting Are Important Everywhere, Even LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers salespeople the opportunity to find prospective customers and leverage their network as a sales funnel. Just as with the cold call, they get one chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, the below example of a Fail for Creative provides lessons that apply to how not to make a first impression in a prospecting email.

  • The email is just plain long. It is not scannable, so a reader does not have a quick, clear understanding of the product proposition.
  • It uses a good deal of industry jargon. This is a tricky thing. For example: Perhaps I, as the recipient, know the meaning of 'REP' (retail electricity provider) commonly used in Texas, or perhaps I know us by the term ‘ESCO’ used more often in the northeast (energy service company). In actuality, my company is known in this state is an ‘EGS’ (electricity generation supplier).
  • My company name is incorrect near the end of the first paragraph. While I work at Talen Energy, the email mentions Champion Energy Services, one of my competitors.
  • It is overloaded with details that do not connect. For example, one sentence reads:
A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, [REDACTED] has developed the first-of-its-kind research network, including more than 1,200 household participants and has generated the largest database of disaggregated residential energy use.  
What does the fact that the company is a not-for-profit have to do with what it developed? And why mention 501(c)(3) status when you’ve already mentioned it is not for profit? 
  • It does not ask for a meeting. There is a general statement about looking forward to learning more about Talen Energy, but not a specific request to meet. A better close would be, “When is a good time next week for us to discuss the potential to support your business needs?”

  1. When driving awareness or initial interest – regardless of the channel – keep your communication scannable for ease of reading and comprehension. Be succinct.
  2. If you do not know your customer, avoid industry jargon.
  3. Proofread everything.
  4. Close with a clear call to action.