You had me at hello.

Why the hard sell tactic can backfire.

You’re doing a good job of attracting qualified leads. So why are you still pushing so hard?

Recently, two different companies won my heart. Each of them provided a product that promised to support my goals of growing my business and streamlining my business processes.

But I quickly lost interest in working with either of them and they lost hundreds of dollars in potential revenue that I would have spent with them had they not made some crucial mistakes.

What they did right

Each of them did a great job of placing themselves in front of me with just the right message at just the right time, which is what compelled me to look at them more closely.

They each had obviously invested in the proper SEO tactics, and their messaging spoke to me as someone who is knowledgeable about the industry, is a fellow professional businessperson, and (most importantly), is interested in their offering. I’m 90% sold on doing business with them by the time I land on their website. Kudos!

This is where it starts to get a little tricky.

Company #1: They came to me via a suggested link on another trusted website that I followed to download a document. Of course I have to enter my email address to get the document, so I do. Within moments I get the requisite automated email with the download link to the document.

The first sign of trouble starts here.

The download was buried at the end of two long paragraphs of copy in what is supposed to resemble a personalized letter, but is really an elongated – and completely unnecessary – sales pitch.

At first I wondered if there was a mix-up and I had received the wrong email, but after scrolling all the way down, I got to the link. The link led to a landing page where there was more lengthy sales copy and more buried links that I had to click again to get the document. At this stage, I’d almost forgotten what it was that I’d been interested in reading in the first place.

Company #2: I found them via a good old-fashioned search on Google. Again, excellent SEO work on their part; I was compelled to click through to download a document. This company provided a direct link to the document on the web page, and I didn’t have to enter my email address to get it.

However, their approach to “capturing a lead” and converting it to a sale was much more sophisticated. And sneaky. And to be honest, rather creepy.

What they did wrong

Company #1: Over-selling to the already sold.

There wasn’t a need for Company 1 to continue to pitch, and to pitch so hard, to me. As I scrolled down the long “sales funnel” landing page desperately seeking a buy button, they were still yammering at me about how awesome their product is. Little did they know that with each paragraph I had to scroll past, they were losing me.

And since I’d entered my email address to get the document, there was an immediate barrage of equally lengthy sales pitch emails coming in to my inbox. Every. Single. Day. By the third day, I hit the “unsubscribe” and opted out.

Company #2: When a Stranger Calls

Company 2 did essentially the same thing, but with a twist. The calls started the day after I’d visited their website. I was in a meeting at a client’s office when the first call came, so I muted my phone and continued the meeting and checked my voice mail afterward. In the message, a chirpy young lady was “following up” with me about my visit to their website and the document I’d downloaded.

RE Web Design & Graphic Design Blog | You had me at hello

Wait, what? I hadn’t given them my phone number or email address, had I? No. I hadn’t. She mentioned in her voice message that she’d also sent me an email, and when I read that email the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. In part, it read:

“I saw that you did some browsing on our website recently and downloaded our eBook ‘(Title of eBook’).”

My brain registered something more like “I know what you did last summer“, with the scary music in the background and everything.

It was obvious that this company employs website tracking software that enabled them to get my name and contact information from my IP address.

I felt invaded, and stalked. It was creepy. And it gets worse.

If it had stopped with that one unwanted follow up call and that one unsolicited email – remember, I had not voluntarily given them my phone number or email address – it would have been bad enough, but it got worse.

I got two more phone calls later that same day from that same number. Then, four calls (yep, four!) the next day, and four more calls the day after that.

These calls went unanswered, and Chirpy Girl didn’t leave another voice message. By the end of the third day, I blocked the number just to end the ceaseless calls. Persistence, in this case, doesn’t pay off. It gets you blocked.

Look, all I did was download a couple of documents. Everyone keep calm.

In ‘The Self Managing Client Attraction Process’, James T Noble says: “Leads that meet your qualification criteria and have been properly introduced to your services are the ONLY ones you speak to.”

The biggest mistake each of these companies made was that they did not respond intelligently to their prospect. They each got the broad strokes of lead generation right, but they never actually nurtured that lead.

Company 1 fell short on doing the work to fully qualify their lead

Instead, they just jumped right in with the same old generic ‘hard sell’ tactics they use on everyone. Thankfully, that could be addressed with a simple click on “unsubscribe”. Thank you CAN-SPAM Act.

Company 2 got everything wrong

Nobody wants to feel spied upon and stalked. But, even if I had given up my contact information, and even if I had given them permission to contact me, it didn’t warrant a barrage of repeated phone calls before I’d even had a chance to respond to the first call.

Side Note:

Phones aren’t attached to a wall or a desk any more; they’re with us on our person wherever we go. Missed calls are a nuisance nowadays more than ever, because we don’t walk away from the phone when we leave the building. We get the phone calls in our car, in meetings, at the salon, while we’re eating, when we’re giving the dog a bath. When that’s your lead-gen follow up strategy, it doesn’t take long to build up resentment and turn a prospect off.


  1. Respond intelligently to the leads you generate to convert those leads into revenue.
  2. Refine and tailor your responses according to the channel and/or asset. Don’t just slap your generic hard sell approach on everyone who downloads your document.
  3. Refrain from aggressively pursuing a prospect that doesn’t need to be pursued. Oh, and if you’re tracking them on your website, don’t tell them.

    RE Web Design & Graphic Design Blog | You had me at hello
    Don’t be this guy.

RE combines a passion for great design with the power of my 20+ years of professional career marketing experience and puts it all to work for my clients using the latest digital and web technologies. It’s my goal at RE to create interesting brand experiences that effectively communicate your message and elicit real human interaction with your brand through spectacular design.