What could have been a catch-up between college classmates soon became a formal critique of a misleading pitch, poor writing skills, and the need to write this post. Here’s the thing, I consider myself a friendly person to strangers and people I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
I am equally as frank when someone mistakes my kindness for ignorance. And I don’t mean weakness, I mean I become bitter when someone believes my cantor is a sign of being oblivious. A college classmate saw the Hyde to my Jekyll this past week after he tried to scam me after I was under the impression that we were catching up.
“Intro to financial planning for Will” was the subject line to the email that set me off on this guy. I obsess over words. Between writing as a passion and having a professional background in marketing, intention, and diction are my tenets.
When I read this subject line I was offended for two reasons. The first reason I was bothered was the assumption that I had no literacy in finances. The second reason, and the deeper reason I was offended, is because of how the LinkedIn message that led to this email invite was written under the premise of a collegiate catch-up.
Salespeople don’t understand that their schemes were born out of a writing discipline
Pitching and all derivations of it owe their roots to the discipline of public relations, a field born and shaped by writers. The idea of pitching that many salespeople use is simply called, “making a sale.” What these finance bros and salespeople forget is that the key to an effective pitch is precise and persuasive writing.
Back to the email aforementioned, this failed frat bro thought he could get one past the Oscar-nominated publicist. The role of a salesperson is not far off from a publicist. Both professions require creating a transactional action, in the former getting media and the latter a financial purchase.
While I understood this guy’s hustle I didn’t respect the lack of respect he gave to the art of writing and communication. Publicists were some of the earliest gatekeepers of both information and the practice of pitching. In my publicist life, I may have invited someone to catch up but if I was pitching them I’d prime them. My issue with salespeople is that they seem to not honor the writer’s tradition of respecting the audience.
Salespeople should take a writing course to learn how to identify their audience
While this may sound shady, because it is a little bit, I believe that if you want to be an effective salesperson you need a strong set of writing skills. Writers know this, but not enough still get that writing is a universal skill. In an industry like sales where you are communicating, you should have the training to do this effectively. And one skill that helps you communicate effectively is understanding your audience.
In any writing convention I take on, pitching to blogging, I need to write with an audience in mind. This guy from my college failed at identifying his audience because he did not even know who I was. He gave me the vague, “Hey Will! I see you have been up to a lot” When I used to pitch, I made sure that I knew this person’s name, job title, and where they were. While I give credit to this college classmate for knowing my name, he not once brought up my company, industry, or title when he was asking me to catch up.
In conclusion, don’t take it personally it’s business, right?
I want to end this post with some vital clarification. I did not make this post in any way to belittle anyone’s profession, but rather to offer constructive criticism. Even in my rebuttal to this old peer, I held my piece from using the full spectrum of obscenities that were coloring my mouth. I plainly wrote back, “Hey X, I see that the subject line doesn’t reflect the catch-up you proposed. I’m comfortable with my financial plan and have experts in my industry who advise me on this. Also, I worked in PR so remember that I read closely.”
There are many other points that I’ve learned in my writing career that I wanted to point out, but this is not a writing course. This is a post that was meant to start a conversation with other writers who may be plagued by old peers whose worst offense is their lack of writing sophistication.
Saying no thanks is often the hardest thing to do, but maybe after reading this post you’ll have a better sense of how to close a conversation by keeping it concise. Remember that courtesy is key in communication, and it truly is courteous to offer someone constructive criticism sometimes.
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.