The Inbound Flip : or How I Turned Inbound Sales Spam into Qualified Leads and Dollars.

This Stuff is Delicious

Some people say that there are only two things that are certain in life, these are death and taxes. Except that these folks have never run a company which if they did would immediately make them realize that there is in fact a third absolute certainty in life — this is the spam sales email.

Look, I’m not going to rag on email marketing, it’s an incredibly effective tool if done right. But running a company, be it an agency, a startup, or a retail bank means you’re going to get emails like:

Hi Jacek,
This is Tim over at Whatever, we’re super excited about what you’ve been doing lately with your company and want to let you know that Whatever SaaS will help you do whatever.
Do you have 15 minutes to get on the phone so I can show you how Bob’s SaaS can be leveraged to do that thing.
Speak soon, Tim, Sales Guru at Whatever

Well I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m an inbox zero type of person, a clean inbox gives me an overwhelming sense of peace. And a sales email here or there is fine, but when you’re getting somewhere in the ballpark of 50 of these things daily, that little zen email garden of mine can quickly turn into chaos. So what’s a dude to do.

Unsubscribes? This just leads them to talk to you more.

Spam Filters? These get bypassed by biz dev gurus.

All in all it was taking me about 20–30 minutes a day to go through all the sales emails I was receiving and cleaning them up. Too much time to spend on this.

Turning lemons into lemonade (and dinners).

Turning the tables with a canned response.

Hi Tim,
Thanks for writing, as you can imagine I’m very busy, but if you’d like to book 15 minutes please send $hourlyRate to my PayPal account at jacek @ and I will happily get on the phone with you.

Enter responses of disbelief and outrage. “Haha, very funny” some would say, “You’re kidding?”, said others and there was also the occasional ”f**k you”.

I mean how dare I ask people to compensate me for my time? The audacity of it all. But what happened next was fascinating.

Some people would actually pay to pitch me, and as if sales reps all pulled from the same target list the volume of biz dev emails slowly lessened.

Follow ups stopped dead cold, and I made enough extra cash to go out to a few really nice dinners in New York, buy an Oculus + Touch, and get a few other small trinkets. But that’s not where the story ends.

Turning inbound sales spam into qualified leads.

Sales for new products is hard. Sales for MVP products is even harder, especially when you’re looking to convert folks to paying subscribers in a product that is in all sense of the word not ready for prime time.

So when we launched our two news products and, we knew getting paying customers would be tough, getting our pitches just right would require work, and for lack of a better term “live test subjects”. So we hit the streets with your standard marketing scorecard, which had one thig different this time, the inbound flip

An inbound flip is when someone writes you selling a service, and you respond to them kindly saying no, but offering a service that would be of value to them instead.

Here’s how this works.

Fundamentally, two types of sales emails make up about 90% of my sales email spam are dev shops offering me their first-born child and great development services for $20/hour, and people trying to pitch me their products.

So let’s start with dev shop spam (copied verbatim), with only names being changed.

I would like to introduce you our company BoBoSolutions ( that has been in the Web and Mobile Development for the past 3 years.
We became a well known and trusted company with an excellent track record. We are keeping our customers` satisfaction by combining excellent quality of the services provided at a comparatively low price.
Please feel free to contact us about any of your business related requirements/queries.
I look forward to a wonderful relationship together and success for all concerned.
P.S. You can see our portfolio at:
Sincerely, Panko Smelov CEO

Now I don’t know if Panko knows this but I get about ten more of these emails daily from his competition — and like the rest of the dev shops out there, Panko offers me very little in terms of value or differentiation. But I can offer Panko something that will help him perform better.

Hey there,
Thanks so much for writing, but at the moment we’re set with our developer needs. I do have a question however?
Do you use RESTful or JSON APIs? I’m wondering because we developed a headless CRUD CMS for agencies. Basically no more clients writing, asking you to delete something, or asking to build them admin dashboards that forever keep on changing, and you get to offer better service, at an even lower price.
Have a look and let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I’ll set you up with a demo.

Now, we’re still working on what exactly to call Varick, but the amazing thing is that this little canned response has lead to demo after demo after demo of this new product, it lead to sign ups, and sales.

I do think we’re lucky though as Varick is a product that actually provides a lot of value to dev shops, but we’ve also seen similar metrics with Ludlow, which is targeted much more towards a sales and marketing role.

In any case, I’d recommend the Inbound Flip to anyone looking to capitalize on the never ending inbound sales emails.

Please hit the♡ if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more like it. And if you’re into AI curated design / tech / entrepreneurship news weekly. Sign up to SWARM’s Newsletter.

Enjoyed this story?