The Stuff We Learn

by Simone Grant

A short story:

Like most everyone else in the blogosphere, I get pitched a lot. Not as much as some folk, but more than others. Some of those pitches are just plain bad. Not worth skimming all the way through. Some are funny bad. Addressed to the wrong person and/or full of typos. Others may be poorly targeted. Because, let’s face it, I’m not going to be interested in everything.

And still others will interest me. And so I’ll write back. Maybe not right away. Sometimes I get caught up with other things.

Recently I received a not-horribly-written pitch and a follow up email from a company. I replied to the second email. I checked out their site and was mildly interested in learning more.  He requested a phone meeting and scheduled one right away.

He called on time, a plus. And that’s where things fell apart. I asked him to give me the quick version. He then told me exactly what I learned by reading his About page (verbatim). I told him I knew that already. I wanted to know how his product was relevant to my site and my readers.

He asked me the name of my site.

FAIL.

I was dumbstruck. He took the time to schedule the meeting, call, and didn’t take 2 seconds to write a note to himself in prep for the meeting.

I then asked a very specific question about the way his product worked. Which he couldn’t answer. Not with any level of specificity and got angry with me when I asked for even further details.

I told him the call was over. I had enough information to make up my mind.

Ten minutes later I received an email from the same person, telling me I should reconsider my decision. That, in essence, all the cool kids were doing it. And that ‘he was sorry I was unable to understand how it worked.’  Not, ‘he was sorry he wasn’t better able to respond to my questions.’ Or, ‘he was sorry we couldn’t come to an understanding at this time.’  Nope. I was unable to understand.

But here’s the thing. This blog post isn’t about the obnoxious business development dude or the lousy product (neither of which I’m badmouthing by name). It’s about the fact that he was just a kid. A defensive kid who’s not very good at his job. And he probably doesn’t realize that. Yet. And maybe he never will.

The truth is, I/we work in a world where a pretty high percentage of the jobs go to people who are too young and immature for the level of responsibility given to them. So they do dumbass things like show up to meetings (a phone meeting IS STILL A MEETING) unprepared. And blame other people for their inability to explain basic concepts. It’s not my fault if you can’t understand me.

I don’t think there’s a solution to this. Too many companies would prefer to hire young and cheap. Or get interns and call them staff.