How to Offer Unsolicited Advice Without Spamming Your Prospect

Is it possible to gain a new client with unsolicited advice?

Let’s say you receive a sales letter, and it’s rife with typos and grammar mistakes, and you’re an editor, so you know you could fix this. Or let’s say you’re a web designer and you come across a truly awful website.

Wouldn’t you love to just reach out and solve their problems?

Because it’s so painful to see these mistakes when you have the skills and knowledge to fix it. And it’s also kind of exciting because, you’re thinking, “this could be a new client.”

Before you reach out, realize that you’re reaching out cold, and that’s fraught with peril.

The problems with unsolicited advice

The first problem is that the prospect has never heard of you before. Why should they trust you? To them you look like spam.

If you’re like me, every day emails like that land in your inbox. You don’t read them. Instead you delete them.

The second problem is that you don’t actually know the business situation. Perhaps the owner is satisfied with what they have. They’re getting enough business, so obviously their customers aren’t bothered. In their minds, it might even be risky to let you come in and make changes.

So, is there ever a good way to offer your unsolicited advice? Yes there is, and here’s how.

Easiest way to relationships

You’ve heard it here before: People want to buy from those they know, like, and trust.

So, the obvious first step is to make sure you have a relationship with the prospect.

Now, the easiest and most natural relationship is to be a client. Once you’re a client, your prospect naturally gets to know you and like you—provided you actually are a good, respectful client. And once you’re a client, it’s not hard to turn that relationship into a mutually supportive business friendship.

Only then will it be safe and productive to offer your unsolicited suggestions—and only once you feel the prospect is aware they have a problem.

Another way to build a relationship is by reaching out to prospects that are obviously in pain.

From total stranger to new client

To show you what I mean, let me tell you about the time I reached out to a total stranger on LinkedIn and gained a lifelong client.

A government agency I follow wrote a post touting their success helping innovative companies get to market. Government posting on LinkedIn almost never gets a reaction, so when I saw a comment there, I took notice. The comment was a lament. I checked out the commenter’s website, and saw many pages but I couldn’t make sense of his business. If he was serious about his web presence, I thought, then a lot of money could be made here.

I used his website’s contact form and proceeded carefully. This is what I wrote:

Subject: Your LinkedIn comment

Dear —-

I read your comment on “4 reasons…” You mentioned how hard it is to get clients to try your product.

I looked at this website and wondered if you think it could be more effective at telling your story.

I wrote the web pages and print materials for another company with a revolutionary product [url]. The owner is very happy with the results.

Would you be interested in seeing some of my ideas? I promise to keep it to a single page.


He replied:

Thank you for reaching out.

As a startup company, we don’t have a big budget for marketing; however, I would be very interested in seeing your ideas.

We got on the phone and had a great conversation about his business and his expectations. He saw my reaching out as generous, and he appreciated it. Not long after, he decided to seek employment. He hired me to edit his LinkedIn profile, his resume, cover letters, and recently, a substantial technical article.

It’s clear that he knows I know his business, and he trusts me. Now that I’ve done so much work for him, I would even say he counts on me. And it all started because he was in pain, I reached out in a generous way, and I sought permission to talk to him about his business.

How you can do it too

I hope you find my story inspiring. I can’t say it will work every time. But it will be more effective and more dignified than sending out cold, pesky emails.

So I’ll leave you with two thoughts. Are you open to making your relationships with the people you hire more mutually supportive? Do you have your eyes open to people who are already unhappy, frustrated, looking for change?