Every day, I receive more than 20 unsolicited emails. There are ads for burial insurance, introductions to Russian beauties, discounts on Viagra—the list goes on and on. These mass marketing messages sent by companies with no idea who the recipients are or what they want are not only stupid, they’re a waste of selling time.

This is the age of personalization, not generalization. That’s one of the reasons Amazon (with its personalized recommendations and custom-tailored experience) has become the largest online retailer in the world. If you’re sending mass emails to your prospects, their decision to delete you is easier than ever. No one wants to be treated like a number. We’re individuals, and we expect the companies we do business with to treat us that way.

Content isn’t king, the customer is. According to marketing experts Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton, sellers should put away their bullhorns and learn to connect with clients and prospects as if they were meeting them in person. Here’s a snippet:

“Maybe this is a familiar scenario. You’ve launched your content marketing strategy but it’s not working—few fans, even fewer followers, some light traffic to your blog and a few lonely clicks from various calls-to-action. When you listen for the response, you hear nothing but crickets. Why? Perhaps you forgot to leave your bullhorn at the door.

“The world over, clients and customers today are demanding more heart. In response, a lot of brands have leapt on the ‘human’ bandwagon. Yet some companies think simply publishing content and proclaiming to customers ‘you come first’ is enough to humanize the brand. Launching an owned-media site or supporting a visually rich Pinterest channel does not make your brand instantly accessible and trustworthy. In too many cases, companies are just wallpapering social-media channels with old brand messages hidden behind the language of ‘you.’”

What’s the takeaway? Get personal or give up. If you want to connect with people and have any chance of doing business with them, you need to know them. Your prospects don’t want to hear your generic sales pitch. They want to hear what you can do for them, and they want specifics. A mass email is a dead giveaway that you haven’t put any effort or thought into finding out the first thing about them. So why should they care what you have to say?

If you want to sell to me, look me up. Learn about me and my business. Find out who in your referral network knows me and could provide an introduction. Then you can start a real business conversation by delivering a unique message that will resonate with me. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your breath—and my time.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader and author of No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust. For more information, go to www.nomorecoldcalling.com.