Today’s lame sales pitch…

I’m going to paste the full text of an email message that recently landed in my inbox and unfortunately wasn’t tagged as spam. But I won’t paste it in one blob, I’ll do it piece by piece so it is easier to dissect.

Subject: RE: Jeremy Z

That’s a weird subject line. There are no other messages in my entire mailbox that contain a subject like that, but I’m supposed to think this person is replying to a message about me? Surely it wasn’t crafted that way to trick me…

Hey Jeremy ,

Hm, a space after my name and before the comma. That feels like a mail merge bug. Two strikes so far.

I don’t want to waste any of your time.


(In other words, that’s almost a third strike.)

I’m keen on having a quick chat with you on how FooPlus can add value to

Aw crap. Here we go. The phrase “add value” is one of the most meaningless in the English language. You’re clearly trying to get me interested while simultaneously telling me nothing about what you actually offer.

Does that EVER work? And do you really think I’m the kind of person it does work on?

And why a quick chat? Can’t you just put some bullet points in the email before I have to think about whether or not I want to cough up my Burner (err, I mean “phone number”) for you?

Foo is a web accelerator significantly enhancing web performance all whilst saving companies a bunch on server cost. I would like to introduce you to FooPlus, which has contributed to the following: ESPN, Amazon, BBC, CNN, Vimeo, Disney, The New York Times, Tumblr, Nikon, Home Depot and many more.

Well, you’ve just wasted an entire paragraph NOT telling me how it would “add value” (whatever that means) or even telling me what it does. Honestly “enhancing web performance” could mean dozens of different things.

At worst, you’ll gain some knowledge on how to keep your current suppliers on their toes. At best, you’ll get some ideas on how to save money on server cost.

Suppliers… of what? Are you referring to our hardware vendors? I’m confused now. I don’t even know why I’m still reading…

Jeremy as I said before, I don’t want to waste any of your time, just keen on having a quick chat.

It’s pretty evident that you DO want to waste my time. You’ve contacted me, out of the blue, with a misleading subject line, and pitched me on a vague promise of “adding value” without really telling me anything tangible at all. And now you want to get me on the phone?

Can’t you see how I might be just A LITTLE skeptical of that “quick chat” not also wasting my time?

Are you available to sometime this week ?

I am not.

And what’s with the space before the question mark, anyway?

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL N119AM, Bonanza N200TE, and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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1 Response to Today’s lame sales pitch…

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