The Four F's of Post-Fundraising Solicitation

The Four F’s of Post-Fundraising Solicitation

Optimal announced its funding yesterday, and it took about 75 minutes for the inevitable first vendor solicitation to roll in. Since then it has continued to grow, with emails and LinkedIn messages pouring in.

I figured I’d take a few quick minutes to provide some helpful tips to potential vendors on how to more effectively solicit us. First and foremost, read the stuff people at the company write (like this blog, our company blog and twitter). Then, as with so many things, it boils down to 4 F’s:

  1. Flattery. Tell us how great you think we are. Studies show that even if the flattery is transparently false, it still works. We prefer the kind that’s more believable, but don’t feel like you have to hold back when saying something nice. Go ahead…
  2. Feedback. Take a look at the free products we put on our website, and try them out, and give us some feedback or ideas. How might they be useful for you or companies like yours? Give us a tip. Even a bug is useful because if we didn’t know about it we will fix it. Offering feedback about our stuff is the number 1 way I’m going to know you took a few minutes to actually think about our business.
  3. Forgetting and flailing. Don’t forget if you’ve already emailed us, or tried something with me or one of our team that didn’t work. If it hasn’t worked or you didn’t get through that’s fine, it happens – I prefer that you acknowledge that.¬†Looking disorganized and/or inconsistent doesn’t inspire confidence. A recruiter sent me three messages yesterday through email and LinkedIn. But he forgot that I’d already sent him an email 6 months before asking him not to recruit our people (he’d sent a letter to the office addressed to someone who no longer worked there, so it found its way to me). He’d helpfully told me that every company is either “a client or a source.” I forwarded him the email again, and he complimented me on my memory. Yes, I remember it because I’m not sending out 2,000 email solicitations a day like you are.
  4. Friends. I believe strongly in the power of referrals. If you are working in my industry or working with other companies like ours, surely you have someone that we know in common that can refer you or vouch for you? Mention their names and encourage me to check you out. I’d prefer to get the recommendation from that person, but even if you just mention them you already establish some credibility. Those people might even give you some tips on how to approach us. This may be the most important of the 4 but it should also be more obvious than it seems to be in terms of how people use it. LinkedIn is a great tool for this purpose.

 

A quick word on an F that doesn’t work: Free stuff unrelated to your product. A bottle of wine or something like that is a nice gesture, but we raffle those things off to people in the company and don’t take them ourselves. A free trial of your service or other way for us to assess stuff is great, though remember that for fast-growing startups, the opportunity costs of the time taken in assessing things is often more than the hard costs. So don’t get hurt feelings if we have to pass on trying out your great recruiting/DNS/consulting/software/app/intern/real estate services for now! Thanks for thinking of us and our investors.