I’m a writer. If you’re a writer, you’re probably thinking “query” in the title refers to a writing query. Not this time. This is a business query, which writing queries are, too. This one came to my husband and I from “THE premier central Texas ranch brokerage.” We’re not particularly interested in selling (although the point about the uncertain capital gains taxation is a valid one). Let me list some reasons why my husband and I aren’t interested in working with this particular broker:
- While his name was listed correctly three lines above the salutation, my husband’s name was completely incorrect in the salutation itself. (Was the previous addressee for this form letter of that name? Alphabetically from a list, it could have been, but my name was correct)
- Purple ink. I know many, many women love purple. Go ahead and use purple pens in your private life. If you’re an editor, you can get away with purple ink for your business. In a business letter? When you’re “cold calling” a potential client? Black, or, if absolutely necessary, blue.
- hotmail.com? Please! You give me a hotmail.com email address (with something other than your name in the address part) in the same line you tell me you’re “THE premier central Texas ranch brokerage” and you expect me to take you seriously?
- You’ve listed a dotcom website at the bottom of you letter. My cheapie website hosting service gives me unlimited email addresses with that hosting account. What this tells me is you don’t have anyone in your premier brokerage firm who has a clue how to use this minimal technology, or you (the sender of the query) aren’t really a full enough representative of the firm to warrant being given one.
- To pile on, there are yellow bands across the letter, so I’m guessing they are having printer problems, too.
Our local realtor, who would probably get the nod if we were interested in selling the ranch, is notorious for some horrendous spelling. I’ve never seen a query letter from her, and their website sometimes has some doozies, so my argument is probably not particularly valid.
The key, of course, is to realize querying is a professional process. Look at the “junk” mail you receive that isn’t necessarily mass produced by some slick firm. What do you notice that impresses you about the firm and what turns you off? We were specifically targeted in this letter. We have ranch property. We could want to sell it. This firm sells ranch property. They want us to know this and, hopefully, choose them if we want to sell. This is no different than a writer soliciting an agent or to independently sell a manuscript to a publisher.
In this case, we’re being solicited. This letter is a form rejection. No response to sender. Had we advertised as soliciting queries, of course we would have sent a form rejection. Since we have not indicated we want queries, we won’t respond. The letter goes in the shred pile.