Email with Heart

Dan Ahmadi
December 5, 2022

When I led demand generation at Outreach, I spent a lot of time with our sales development team to better understand their workflows and identify how marketing could contribute to their results. I was astounded by the resiliency and grit the Sales Development Representative role requires. It’s a really hard job, frequently met with denial, rejection, and - worst of all - occasional public shaming on platforms like LinkedIn

It's not easy being an SDR.

My empathy for the sales motion subconsciously influenced me to be more open to external sales pitches - even as cold calls. I intentionally started replying and answering the phone more often - and felt like any response was likely better than no response. This ended up being a very short-lived effort, as the number of emails I received barreled into the 100s every week.  Unfortunately, I realized many of these sales emails presented irrelevant, mismatched solutions and offers that did not pertain to any of my goals, initiatives, or challenges. 

Enter Gated. I was an early user on the platform and Gated immediately reduced unknown sales emails from my inbox by what I might guess was nearly 95%. However, it still allowed a pathway for a sales rep who truly wanted to reach me to get through. 

One day, not so long ago, an email landed in my mailbox for advertising fraud detection technology.  I was certainly a target buyer for this salesperson. Therefore, when she got a Challenge Email, she was willing to donate to my chosen charity, The American Red Cross, in order to reach me.

Because of her donation, her email stood out, clearly marked in my inbox.  I read it, identified that what she was selling wouldn’t be a good fit for my company, but considered how I might point her in the right direction.  I knew of a colleague at another company who might have been interested, so I replied to her with this information.

A few weeks later, I was surprised to see a note that she had made a second, generous $25 donation to the Red Cross.  I was confused, but soon had an explanation: the referral I provided had helped her land a key meeting and she wanted to use part of her commission to pay it forward.  The connection that Gated created turned out to be a win-win-win for all parties! 

Screenshot of a saleswoman who donated $2 to Dan Ahmadi's favorite nonprofit, The Red Cross, after receiving his Gated Challenge Email.
Meaningful connections for users, senders, and charities (source: Dan Ahmadi's inbox)

This experience really made me reflect.  Today’s business practices have inadvertently led to the proliferation of messages, calls, and texts.  (Does ‘vehicle extended warranty’ ring a bell?)  But amid this noise, there are predominantly well-meaning sales professionals trying to make a difference and do their best work.  They are working hard to fine-tune their selection criteria and personalize their pitches. They have compelling messages that can be valuable if they can get through to the right audience. Gated provides these sales people a channel to reach me.  Gated gives me the space to listen, consider, and respond.  And Gated gives all of us the chance to support meaningful charities around the world.  

This post was written by Dan Ahmadi, VP of International Growth and Demand Generation at and an early Gated user. You can read more about how Gated has improved Dan’s work and productivity.

Published May 2021

Updated December 2022