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"Crazy Train" emails and yet another reason we pass on partnerships

Mar 9, 2016 | Schedulefly Crew
We've written before about why we elect to pass on partnership opportunities. Last week I got another reminder of why they are often wise to avoid. We received an email from a guy who requested time to discuss a partnership. I changed his name and the name of the company and took out some details, but I've left in the relevant parts to my point. Here's the email...

Hi, I am from Slyco, a company serving the US restaurant industry. I'm interested in connecting with you to discuss potential partnership. We have a few thousand customers and multiple POS integrations. Like to see if there is a way we could work together to achieve some mutual growth.

Let's break down each of the four sentences, and the concerns that were firing in my head as I read them.

1. "Hi, I'm from Slyco." No names in the salutation? We clearly tell you on the Our Adventure page that there are only five of us, and we list all of our names. Heck, couldn't this guy have at lest said "Hi Guys" to indicate that he knew we were a small team of guys? He also started with "I'm" so he's putting the focus on him, not us. Conversely, if his sentence started with "You" and referenced something he had learned about us on our web site, I'd at least nod in approval and want to see what he said next. Ok, enough on that. Let's move along.

2. "I'm interested in connecting with you to discuss potential partnership." Yet another sentence starting with "I". Why? That's nice if he's interested, but why should we care? We clearly state on Our Adventure that we don't have partnerships. At this point I already know how I'm going to reply, but let's read on...

3. "We have a few thousand customers and multiple POS integrations." Ok, this doesn't start with "I," but "We" is close enough. And while I understand that he's trying to build quick credibility with mention they have a few thousand customers and lots of integrations, he's been so focused on his company so far I'm really losing interest in continuing at this point.

4. "Like to see if there is a way we could work together to achieve some mutual growth." Well, this sentence doesn't technically start with "I" but it's because he just implied it and started with "Like." What he meant was "I'd like..." So here we are, the fourth out of four sentences starting with a focus on him/his company. And at this point, it's what I call a "Crazy Train" email. Ever heard Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne? It starts out with him saying "Aye..Aye..Ay..Aye" (sounds like "I..I..I..I"). Hahaha. Ok, jokes aside, this was a very self-centered email other than the "mutual growth" line. And my point is, that's a red flag.

Now you might think I'm being over the top in dissecting this email and reading into it like this. But in my opinion that's exactly what you should do when a company approaches you, unsolicited, for a partnership. Or to sell you something. Or to invest in your business. Or for any unsolicited reason. Why? Because you have a business to run, and your time is precious. Why spend it on anybody who doesn't have the right focus from the start? The question to ask is, Does it appear from their email they are they are in it for them, or for you? Or, quite frankly I'd want to see them be in it for the dang CUSTOMERS! That's right. Why not put the focus on doing something that will help our mutual customers - restaurants - instead of focusing on a goal of "mutual growth." We look at growth as a by-product around here, not the goal. Anyway, I congratulated this guy on his company's success so far, and politely declined. Honestly, he lost us at "Hi", but the other signals were very concerning, so even if we were open to partnerships, we would have passed on this one.

So here's the type of email I hope you expect when somebody attempts to partner with you or sell you something. It should be focused on you. Something like this...

"Wes, Tyler, Wil, Charles and Hank - Congratulations on what you've built at Schedulefly. Your story is very interesting, and you've carved out a nice niche with a clear focus. You mention on the Our Adventure page that you don't have partnerships, which I respect. Partnerships can be messy if the customer isn't always the center of focus. Our company, Slyco, also has a laser focus on restaurants, and we have an idea of an offering we could create together that we believe could enable you and us to benefit them even more together than we do independently. Would you be open to hearing our idea?"

We don't plan to partner with anybody, but if we ever did you can bet they would need to have this type of mentality from the start. And if you plan to spend your precious time and energy considering a somebody else's unsolicited pitch, I hope you'll have the same high expectations of your suitor.