I just got a prospecting e-mail from a vendor, who obviously knows nothing about me.

To set the stage, my particular marcom specialty is the business intelligence area of high tech B2B. Business intelligence (BI) is all about using data to make better decisions. This is over-simplified, but BI vendors sell software for database management, data quality, reporting, and analytics. I grew up in this world but left my Director of Business Intelligence at a large corporation to freelance.

To stay current with technology and new vendors, I download white papers and case studies, and attend several webinars every month. As you probably know, before you can download or attend, you must give up your contact info. These guys don’t just ask for your name and e-mail address, you have to provide more intimate details including your budget for BI, how soon you might be ready to purchase, how big your company is, and your phone number.

These warm leads are passed along to the vendor’s sales team for follow-up. Here’s where it gets funny. Inevitably, I get an e-mail or phone call asking me whether I have any projects that might need enterprise data management solution or something similar. They’re talking to me…and my one-person company.

Considering I answered their question about company size (one person) and when I might have a project (“just looking” if they have that option or I check two plus years out). If they have a comments box, I always let them know I am a freelance writer just staying current.

So, why is all of this information ignored on the follow-up? Why collect the info if you don’t use it to qualify your leads? Given this is likely your first contact with me you’re not making a good impression when you treat me generically.

Take five minutes and learn about your prospect. Then make your first contact personal. Ask me about my business and if I have any questions. Ask me whether I can send you any additional information, even if I’m unlikely to buy now or in the near future.

Coincidently, I attended a great webinar from Brian Carroll of InTouch that talks about nurturing your leads. I highly recommend it.