How to Lose Business One Email at a Time

I admire people who are in sales. I really do. I wouldn’t last a day in their shoes…I’m definitely an introvert and I know I would take everything too personally.

I knew early on that a career in sales wasn’t for me.  When I was in college, I worked in the children’s department at (the now defunct) Marshall Field’s. We were told to greet customers within 30 seconds of entering the department. So, I’d ask people if they needed help, and if they said no, I’d quickly scurry away, worried that I was bothering them. My boss even called me into her office once to tell me that I was doing a terrible job upsetting customers (“Are you positive you don’t need a pair of socks to go with those pants?”) or convincing people to open a Marshall Fields credit card account (“What do you mean you don’t want to save 15% on your purchase today?!).

That’s why anyone in sales has my utmost respect. It’s a tough job, and you’ve got to have a thick skin…and a lot of creativity…to be successful.

Each week, I get about a handful of calls and emails from folks trying to sell me products or services. One particular gentleman from a company that shall remain nameless has been particularly persistent. After a couple unanswered calls, he sent me an email with the subject line “Flowers.” It was an intriguing subject line, so without thinking I opened the email on my phone…and was greeted with this gem.


I understand you’ve got to be creative and persistent when getting in front of prospective customers. This guy gets an “A” in both areas. And I’ll admit – the subject line intrigued me enough to open the email.  So, I guess that could be considered another win for this guy. But I think comparing a prospective customer to an ex girlfriend who can be wooed with flowers is really unprofessional. I know, I know…it’s only a joke. But humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And this dude’s humor rubbed me the wrong way – guaranteeing his future emails (and emails from anyone else at this company) will land in my trash.

What do you think of this email? Am I being too harsh? Do you think it’s a clever tactic? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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