My new standard turn down auto-response



"Your project is in a queue, if we don't respond it's not because we don't like it, in fact we think you team rocks.  We usually don't respond, but rest assured we read your material, tried your app and tweeted it our to our 17 followers. [Michael Robertson] loved it, Dan and Brian talked about it on namesake, but unfortunately our bar is insanely high and we only do halo deals right now or companies that can go IPO in under 2 years. Best of luck"

What do you think ?  I am still tweaking the parsing of the original email so I can fit the right founder in on the fly.  I think this could cure my RSI and make me really popular.

[originally published on @namesake, home of Conversations That Rock]

 

How I really turn people down

  • I mostly email b/c I do it late at night and getting calls together is a hassle.  Anyone I have met I provide some context. Anyone I have spent serious time with I call and am typically uber-direct and detailed.
  • If I liked the project I will often tweet and intro to others though this is random and time dependent.
  • I am often very direct.  I try not to give boilerplate answers but sometimes I do because explaining would take too long and I would rather be conversing on namesake.  I have given up trying to be super considerate to everyone b/c voila, c'est la vie.
  • I still consider responding with feedback to be an important SLA.  It is the one item that pisses entrepreneurs off no end and still I suck at saying no and would rank myself 6 or 7 /10.   Yet I care so I cannot imagine what your average VC would rank at.

 

Having said that ….

It's amazing though how little upside there is to being direct. The guys who say "yay I am a huge fan you guys rock but we're uber busy with [color] right now" get away with murder. I'll still be direct though b/c Ialways seek feedback and never get any.  Some come on, be honest :-)

 

Handling the No

How you handle rejection is a big part of what happens next. Most startups I meet I have to say no to but when an entrepreneur comes back and says "great feedbak thank you we'll think hard about some of these points; in the meantime look out for us in the market because we're going to make an impact. Is there anyone who you think might like this who you could intro and do try our new demo at xxxx and let others know about it if you like it."

It might seem odd but providing context when turning someone down is a "give" (it takes time and attention to write it) and hence a "positive" signal of engagement (I cared enough to spend 5 minutes structuring my thoughts rather than simply turn down).  The question is how you leverage the no and get something else from the relationship you're building.  As a CEO I know likes to say: "I don't consider that anyone is not a potential customer; they're just future customers".

  No2av

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6 Responses to My new standard turn down auto-response

  1. Very subtle auto responder.

    I too am very direct in my feedback and passes. Going back to your post about building community, as you know having just been here, we are working hard to help build the Montreal community. I think a part of that is being giving valuable feedback to people that you are passing on.

    I spent an hour once with an entrepreneur that we had passed on because of concerns about that individual, to talk directly about those concerns. We don’t do that every time, but we do try and be helpful.

    We don’t think our word is gospel though. Entrepreneurs can do what they wish with our feedback, but we do try and give some objective, actionable thoughts to people.

  2. Rory bernard says:

    At least getting a response back means you know where you stand. A no could just mean the timing is wrong, nothing personal. Just means when you do an update 3 months after on the progress of your ultra cool startup you know it will get through the spam filter. Nothing to tickle an investor then a story unfolding in front of them with all the right signs ( which might be getting away).

    Had one company funded on the first meeting and another took over 50. I thought I was sh*t hot after the first but really just got lucky on timing.

    I can test ( or not) the auto response for you :)

  3. Spending time lately with Angels and VCs, there is nothing more appreciated than direct feedback – hearing praises and then a rejection with no rationale is really bad. You feel worthless than. I had a few of those rejections – like “it does not fit us at the moment”.

    So Fred, kudos to you if you spend those extra few minutes after reviewing the idea/app/service.

  4. There’s really something about getting a direct and honest feedback. If I receive a canned response, I wouldn’t know the reason why my app or idea was rejected. As a result, I would have little to work with in terms of improving it. As a future customer, you don’t want me going to someone else right?

  5. I really like your statement “I don’t consider that anyone is not a potential customer; they’re just future customers”…

  6. I spent an hour once with an entrepreneur that we had passed on because of concerns about that individual, to talk directly about those concerns. We don’t do that every time, but we do try and be helpful.It’s amazing though how little upside there is to being direct.there is nothing more appreciated than direct feedback..