Sales Prospecting, Social Selling 1 Comment

10 Must Follow Rules for B2B Email Introductions

Max Altschuler

May 8th, 2015

*Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Inc.com by Bubba Page and is being republished with permission. The original article can be viewed here.

I’m sure you get these emails. People asking to pick our brain, see their demo, provide feedback on their product, and the list goes on. Being a natural connector in the space, I’m constantly getting the ask, “can you provide and intro to X for me.”

Your connections and relationships are extremely important and introductions are delicate. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when they aren’t treated as such. Therefore, here is my lesson in introductions that should be used by all salespeople, or even just all human beings in general.

Good introductions require an art and proper etiquette. It’s simple. Follow these points. No excuses!

1. Who Responds First, And How Fast?

When making an introduction, the person who asked to be intro’d (the “asker”) OR the more junior person should respond first. I find about 98% of the time the “asker” is also the more junior person.

This “asker” should respond within 1 business day of the intro being made. Very little excuses here. If you are the one who made the ask for the introduction, you better respond promptly, thoughtfully, and politely once you get it.

2. Cold Intros Are Awful

Intros absolutely must require both sides to opt-in. The only real outlier here is a complete no-brainer. ex. “Bill Gates wants to invest/buy your company, connect…”

It’s a huge problem when someone makes an introduction to you and doesn’t ask you if it’s ok first. Now they put the burden on you to respond or look like an ass.

If someone asks you to make an intro, reply with, “Sure. Can you send me some context I can forward along? I’d be happy to make the intro if they’re interested in chatting with you.”

Then send that along and give an endorsement of your own if you’d like. Once they say, “Sure. Please make the introduction.” then you’re good to connect the two individuals.

3. Don’t Flake

Once double opt-in has been made and both parties agree to the introduction, the responsibility lies on both sides for making sure they respond promptly. It makes the introducer look bad if ball is dropped after intro is made.

If you’re really that busy, don’t opt-in. Please, it will save everyone their time.

4. Move To Bcc

After the first reply on either side, it is up to the people that were introduced to move the introducer to Bcc immediately. Unless for some reason you want them to say involved in the convo.

Ex.

“Thanks Max! (Bcc’d)

Hey {name},

Nice to meet…..”

5. Context

Like I mentioned in #2, if you want an intro you must provide the introducer with some context or a blurb they can forward or pass along.

Ex.

“Hey Max,

I see you know {name} and if possible, I’d love an intro so I can ask him how they navigated the process around {challenge} and potentially use their services. Any chance you can do that for me? Here’s something you can send his/her way.

My good friend {asker} is working on X and is interested connecting with you regarding {challenge} and your companies services. Would you be open to me providing an introduction?”

Then when sending this on I would add my endorsement at the end.

“I think the connection would be mutually beneficial. He/she is really dialed-in.”

*Side note: (I like the term dialed-in because it implies but intelligent and connected.)

6. Make Intros Mutually Beneficial

This is important! Try to only make business introductions where you truly believe there’s real mutual benefit. Even if that benefit on one side is further down the road.

Ex.

A subject matter expert in Product Management could be beneficial to a salesperson down the line should that sales person decide to start their own company one day. If you know that salesperson has expressed interest in being a founder, then it could be mutually beneficial later on.”

  • If I introduce a VC to a company, I better believe that company is going to do well and that VC is one of high integrity.
  • If I introduce a potential sales hire to a company, I better believe in both sides.
  • If I introduce a potential client to a company, I better believe the company can produce!

7. Close The Loop

A good introducer will circle back later and see if they connected. “How’d it go?” If they never connected, be sure to ask why? You may not want to vouch for that person again if they made you look bad by standing someone up.

A great introducee AKA some who received an intro will…

8. Say Thanks!

Always circle back to thank the introducer. Help him/her close the loop and report back. If it went really well, send a gift.

Sometimes when I get a good gift for something like this, I keep that person and their company top of mind for a while. This means I start looking out for them and talking them up. Sometimes without realizing it. For the space I’m in, this could be pretty important for a person/company that thanked me.

Gifts can be cookies, wine, flowers, whatever you’d like. But if you really got a lot of value then you should say thanks in a big way.

Ex.

You received an intro to a VC and then the VC invested in/lead your next round. Or you received an intro to a potential client and they just signed the deal. You better be sending a gift basket for that one.

FYI – I’m a scotch guy. Just sayin’.

9. Be Thoughtful. Customize the Introduction Email.

The best connectors and most connected people I know write incredibly thoughtful introductions. It’s not just a task on their to-do list. There’s absolutely no coincidence here.

Being thoughtful in an introduction starts a new relationship off on the right foot. Furthermore, often times both parties end up talking about how awesome you are when they first connect for real conversation. You win, they win, it’s a win-win.

Add some nice context around the people and scenario. Just don’t write a novel.

About a week ago, my buddy Adam Liebman sent me this intro.

“Chris, meet Max. Max, meet Chris.

Chris is currently an AVP at Mimeo, where, among other things, he helps his team to use sales tools to absolutely crush it. Chris and I worked together at Yext, and he’s the first guy I would try to hire if I needed a sales leader.

Max is a man of many talents, including throwing the Sales Hacker Conferences all over the country. He also just published his first book, Hacking Sales, and is the man behind the idea of a “Sales Stack.”

The two of you know more about sales and the tools that make sales easier than just about any other people I know. I think you’ll both enjoy connecting, and I hope you get a chance to soon. I know Max is going to be in town next week for the next conference, maybe all of us can find a way to get together.

Will let you two take it from here.

Cheers!”

This is a great intro. It made me excited to meet Chris, flattered me, which naturally makes me like Adam more, and gives good context. It’s probably a little on the longer side, but in this particular case it works well.

I think for this point more than the other, you really need to “read the room”

Ex.

For a VC intro, it’s probably best to keep it very short because their inboxes are busier than most.

10. Provide Value

Once you’ve been introduced and you’re looking to connect in person, provide value. Even if it’s only a free lunch or beers. If you do any research beforehand, you’ll be able to provide more value because you’ll know what resonates.

Ex.

Maybe you meet with someone way more senior than you in your profession. Professionally, you fear that there’s nothing of value you can offer and maybe you’re right.

But if you did your research on Twitter/LinkedIn/Google, you’d find out that he/she is an amateur beer brewer and you happen to have a background in this. Now you can provide value when you catch up, which will strengthen the relationship and ultimately make the introducer look good.

Lastly, If the person on the other gets busy, be understanding. Offer to circle back at a better time if necessary.

Bonus: If you do get introduced to someone and are too busy to meet but don’t feel comfortable saying NO, just tell the truth.

Ex.

“Hey {name},

Thanks for getting in touch. I’m swamped with X right now and am really behind. Can you ping me again in 2 weeks and we can get something on the books when I know where I’m at?

Thanks for understanding,”

Nobody can be mad at that, and it puts the ball back in his or her court to follow up in 2 weeks. Also, helps you know who really wants to connect because quite a few people will forget to follow up. Plus, it’s extremely polite.

Follow these points, nay, rules of introduction etiquette and you’ll be in good standing with your peers in the industry. After all, being a connector starts with being able to connect people properly. Just go the extra millimeter, and reap all the benefits…and maybe even some scotch.

 

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Learn when it’s okay to use exclamation points and smiley faces in your sales emails.

About the author

Max Altschuler

Max Altschuler is the founder and CEO of Sales Hacker, the leading community for the next generation of sales professionals. He’s the author of Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. Max has been published by the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Money, and more. He was named a top sales expert by both Salesforce and Inc, and keynotes conferences globally. He is also an avid investor and advisor for rapid growth startups.

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