I recently received an email from a person whose name I didn’t recognize. The subject line read, “re: Our Conversation.” That made me wonder, “Did I have a conversation with this guy?”

Maybe I was having a “senior moment” and forgetting some conversation at a networking event. They say “50 is the new 30,” but my memory is not as sharp as it was 20 years ago (nor is my eyesight).


So instead of trashing the email, I opened it:

“Hi Tom: I’d like to tell you about some partners who are seeing great revenue growth using our platform. Are you available for a conversation about this in the next week or two?”

No thanks, I thought. I don’t do business with people who trick me to get my attention. I clicked the “Report Spam” button in my email software and then deleted the message.

I’ve met many unscrupulous salespeople who think trickery is a sacred art. They brag about their “bag of tricks.” They regale one another with hunting stories about all the fools they bagged.

I’m not impressed.

The misleading subject line tricked me into opening the email. But as I wrote in last month’s column, an opened email doesn’t help you unless it leads to a positive next step. My next step was to curse the trickster and report him to the spam cops. He won’t be bragging about that.

Some businesses stoop to similar depths with their loyal customers. A company with which I host multiple websites left a voicemail for me recently to say my account was suspended. The message instructed me to call immediately to prevent all of my sites from being deleted from the server.

When I called, the “customer service” representative told me that my account was in good standing but that it was time to consider a contract renewal.

When I told her I called not to discuss renewals but because I received a threatening message, she said, “Yeah … we’ve been getting a lot of complaints about that call.”

I told her I wouldn’t be renewing my contract. Online reviews trash this company for its horrible customer service and dishonest marketing tactics.

Smart marketers and salespeople build business on a foundation of authority and trust. Deliver valuable knowledge to demonstrate authority. Be authentic and honest to build trust.

A few days after receiving the “re: Our Conversation” email, I received another cold-call email. The subject line was the company name followed simply by “Introduction.” I opened the email, which read: “Hope you are well. I took an educated guess and assumed that you are the right person at MarketVolt to chat with about integrating our system into your platform… When are you free to chat, or should I be speaking with someone else?”

How refreshing. No tricks. Direct and honest. And she happened to be pitching a service I’m currently shopping. I responded, and we scheduled a demo. The great irony: She’s in the same industry as the guy who tricked me – the guy who didn’t get to demo his service for me.

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