A few minutes after ChatGPT was released, the techno brutes immediately found the value of using a robot to write cold emails, believing that AI's customization would win them meetings. It is difficult to understand how something might be personalized without any human effort. If a robot writes your cold email, it isn’t personal.
During the Industrial Revolution, humans were replaced by machines or worked alongside machines. Machines were able to do more work faster, increasing profits and allowing scale. We are now at the beginning of the Singularity. We are using code machines to do boring, repetitive tasks, allowing humans to do more meaningful work that creates greater value. Fair enough.
Why a salesperson would use these tools for cold email is a mystery to me. It still takes time and effort to get AI to write these messages, and the idea that your contact might open, read, or act on them is folly. Let me prove it. Imagine you open your email inbox and see six emails from companies and people you don’t know. How do you respond?
- I open the email, read it, respond, and schedule a meeting.
- I open the email, scan it, and delete it.
- I recognize the email is automated on first contact and delete it.
- I delete the email or send it to the spam folder without opening it.
If a person selects option A, they don’t have enough to do and should be provided more valuable work. There are likely some people that open and scan the email before deleting the email, option B.
- 4.1 billion people have an email account.
- 347.3 billion emails are sent and received each day on planet Earth.
- By 2024 we will send 361.6 billion emails daily.
- If my math is right, each of us with an email address will receive about 84 emails today.
Most of us will choose option C, deleting the emails on first contact. Some of the grouchiest of us will send such messages to the spam folder. With so much incoming mail—from your company, your clients, your family and your friends, and strangers who pretend to know you—managing email is both overwhelming and underwhelming.
I sometimes wish I could create a mailing list of the people who automate their prospecting sequences and sign them up for all the competing sequences.
The Best Personalized Email You’ll Ever Delete
You can spend a lot of time crafting an email. I have seen emails that are longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I have also seen emails that include no fewer than 15 PDFs, as if they know their contact has insomnia and needs something to help them sleep. (Your PDFs are more potent than Ambien.)
Time spent trying to use AI to create boring and repetitive messages is folly. There is little chance that these emails are opened. And even if they are, they are likely to be deleted.
Why We Delete Email
No matter how much you know about a contact, most of the time, your automated email isn’t relevant to them. Perhaps you noted that they went to the University of Cincinnati or whatever ChatGPT discovered about the contact you are trying to convert.
Your contact receives an overwhelming volume of communications on the phone, email, text messages, Slack, chat, and mail. To get their job done, they must eliminate anything that isn’t a priority. Email is one of the easier communications to delete and remove from your life and your work.
Less Than Human
The person using technology to personalize their cold outreach believes their approach is strategic. But automation suggests that email is transactional instead of planned with care. This is a spray-and-pray approach that is not designed to create value for recipients.
There may be nothing less human than a person using a robot to pretend to be a human. I am afraid you missed this, so let me bubble this idea up to the top of your inbox.
If You Are Going to Make It Personal, Make It Personal
To make something personal, do the research yourself. If you want a meeting with a person you believe you can help, pick up the phone and call them directly and tell them why you believe they will benefit from spending time with you. There is a long history of introverts hiding behind the internet because they are uncomfortable talking to people.
If you are scaling your cold email, it is not personalized. Even if you noted something personal about each person receiving the email, automation is the opposite of personalization.
The Human Advantage
In a world eaten by technology, the advantage of being human is that you can care enough to spend time with the people you can help. AI and automated sequences are not capable of caring. In any contest between two competitors, the one who cares has an advantage that will not be overcome by technology.
Trust. Caring. Value creation. Other orientation. Empathy. Compassion. Effort. Persistence. Consistency. Actual intelligence. Experience. Willingness to do hard things. Giving your time and attention. These are what is missing from this approach. Only you and I can be human, whether we’re prospecting or solving hard problems that improve our clients’ results and their businesses. Let your competitors play with their toys while you get things done.
Sales is a craft, a set of skills. Professionals never avoid doing the work, from researching to communicating effectively to creating value. The amateur is a poseur, pretending to be something they are not.
Do good work.