Yes, okay, I'll buy it then!

Yes, okay, I’ll buy it then!

Holding a gun to someone’s head to get them to do what you want is an effective way of persuading them to buy your product, but then if you are going to cast aside law and order, you may as well just take their money and keep the product. If repeat business is important to you, there are far more effective (and legal) methods to win and retain customers – but this message hasn’t yet disseminated to everyone online.

I’m a fairly avid user of LinkedIn, and frequently receive connection requests from people I don’t know. If they look like useful or interesting contacts, then I generally accept the request, otherwise I ignore it.

Recently I decided to experiment in accepting every request I received, and it proved to be a bit of an eye-opener. I’m not sure whether it was my imagination, but the proportion of connection requests received from foreign lands seemed to multiply – whereas usually, requests would come from other people form within the UK. I was quickly able to establish an explanation and a pattern…

More often than not, shortly after receiving such a request, I would receive an email which would typically follow this construction:

  1. A simple sentence confirming their job title, and the business they work for
  2. A statement that I would stand to benefit from their services
  3. A short outline of their services
  4. A request to know when would be the best time to discuss my requirements with them

This subject matter of this ultra-direct approach has always been about how I can use them to fulfil my (apparent) software development needs. So to summarise, the first communication I receive from such people is:

These are our services. Please buy from us.

This may sound like a minor annoyance, but it soon escalated to several a day. On one occasion in the period of a few days I received identical emails from 12 different members of staff at the same firm. Worse than that, when I ignored them,  I received endless follow-ups, pointing out that I hadn’t responded, and having another go at plying their wares.

Quite what makes these people believe that I’m in the market for their services, and that I am also considering buying from them following their ‘cold’ email is a bit of a mystery.

Outsourcing done properly

When it comes to bespoke or tailored services, it is often said that people buy from people. Contracting someone you know nothing about to do a discrete piece of work is reserved for the foolhardy, the brave, and those with deep pockets. Combining this with a random approach of targeting people with your services is nothing more than spamming, or the online equivalent of cold-calling – and is highly ineffective.

We would never recommend contracting someone new to undertake a piece of work until you’ve convinced yourself that they are capable of doing the job to the standard you require. That’s why at EngLancer, when someone wishes to place a bid on a tender, we encourage both parties to open lines of communication (telephone / email) so that you are able to carry out enough due-diligence that the value of the job dictates. We understand that there’s a lot more to choosing a supplier than simply placing the contract with the lowest bidder, which is one of the reasons we used sealed bids – to prevent bidding wars that undoubtedly result in a drop in the quality of work delivered.

At EngLancer, we are constantly evolving our platform to improve your experience, which will see a number of new features go live in the coming months. To that end you may have noticed the recent addition of recommendations. These enable someone who is new to our platform, to compile a list of references from people they have already worked with. With no history of completed jobs through EngLancer, it allows the eager Engineer, Draughtsman or Modeller to strengthen their offering and help the Outsourcer carry out a preliminary assessment as to the competence of the bidder.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and any future additions you’d like to see.

Image provided under a creative commons licence by Surlan Soosay.

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