An eCommerce Company Wants to Know: Do I Want to Double My Sales?

While searching for something else in my email archives, I ran into this exchange with a sales rep from Digital River who spammed me a few years back asking if I wanted to double our online sales. It’s rather humorous.

Subject: Online Sales @ Laridian

Hi Craig,

How are sales from laridian.com? If we could double online revenue, would you be willing to outsource your web store to Digital River? We have done this for most of our 3,000 software clients and would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we may be able to do the same for Laridian. Please reply if your willing to consider outsourcing your online store.

Sincerely,
John S
Regional Sales Manager
Digital River, Inc.
www.digitalriver.com

Wow. That sounds great. I’m always up for doubling my revenue. Here’s my respose:

From: Craig Rairdin [mailto:craigr@laridian.com]
To: ‘John S’
Subject: RE: Online Sales @ Laridian

Hi John!

Sales are great! No reason to make any changes. But you sound like an honest man so I’m willing to simply take you at your word — if you are willing to stand behind it.

Write back if you’re willing to sign a written guarantee that you’ll double our net revenue from Web sales as you’ve claimed you can do in your email.

Of course once we move to Digital River it will be difficult to say what our sales would have been had we not moved, so what we’ll do is take the last three years of sales and find a best-fit line based on monthly net revenue (i.e. revenue less cost of sales). We’ll project that line over the next three years and you will guarantee to send us a check for twice that amount regardless of your actual revenue from our products. At the end of three years we both can decide whether or not we want to continue the relationship.

One-half of each month’s guaranteed payment will be due on the first of the month. The remainder (either the other half of the guaranteed amount or the actual net revenue from sales) will be due within 10 days of the end of the month. If you don’t pay the full amount due in a particular month within 10 days of the end of the month, then we revert back to selling ourselves and the remainder of the 3-year contract becomes due immediately.

I don’t expect to have any expenses associated with the conversion from doing this at our site to doing it at yours. I anticipate that the way the changeover would work is that you would get everything set up on your end at no expense to us, then on the first of some particular month I’d find a check from you equal to that month’s projected net revenue and I’d edit a few lines of code on our site to send customers to your site for ordering, or we’d make a DNS change that would redirect our entire site to your servers.

I don’t expect to have any marketing expenses associated with driving traffic to the site. You’ll handle our online and print advertising as it relates to direct sales. Of course we’ll continue to handle marketing and sales through other channels.

John, I assume you’ve done your homework and you have a rough idea how much money you’re committing your company to, or you wouldn’t have made such claims in an unsolicited commercial email. Of course I trust you implicitly and know that you wouldn’t say something like this if you weren’t fully willing and able to deliver. It must be great to work for a company that can deliver these kind of results! Frankly, I’ve been looking for a Magic Bullet that would double net revenue from our Web site. If you’re willing to stand behind your marketing claims with real money (and I have no reason to doubt that you are), this could be a match made in heaven!

Craig

I assumed that if John was bold enough to claim he could double our online sales that he actually believed he could triple or quadruple them. Otherwise, he’d risk not being able to hold up his end of the deal. So my plan to hold him to his (outrageous) claims should’ve been a no-brainer for him. Apparently not. Here’s his response:

From: John S
To: Craig Rairdin
Subject: RE: Online Sales @ Laridian

Hi Craig,
You sound like a smart business man, so I’m sure you already realize their are no guarantees in business. It is true we have been able to double online revenue for most of our clients, but I’m sorry you misunderstood my email.
Regards,
John

What? I misunderstood that when he said he could double our sales, he meant that he couldn’t double our sales?

From: Craig Rairdin [mailto:craigr@laridian.com]
To: ‘John S’
Subject: RE: Online Sales @ Laridian

Hmmm… So when you said “If we could double online revenue, would you be willing to outsource your web store to Digital River?” you never intended to demonstrate your ability to do that in any concrete way? You asked if we’d outsource our store in exchange for double our current revenue, but you had no intention of proving you could do it or standing behind your promises with guarantees.

So what are your potential customers supposed to do? Just believe a guy who spams them and turn over their life-blood to his company with the hope that the spammer knows what he’s talking about? You may have found 3000 other nut-cases with this pitch but you didn’t find one here.

Even though my message was tongue-in-cheek, I’d be willing to actually follow through on the promises made therein. By contrast, your message was a serious invitation to do business together, but you had no intention of standing behind your words with any kind of concrete action. Your willingness to spam me and spew nonsensical marketingspeak with no intention of delivering tells me more about Digital River than you could possibly imagine.

Please remove us from your spam list.

Craig

To his credit, he removed me from his spam list.

I think a business that makes a clear claim in a solicitation for business should be willing to stand behind it. I think my proposal was more than fair, even though I knew he would never go for it. It irritates me when a business makes claims like this and thinks they shouldn’t be held responsible for them.

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