Are PhD holders horrible at sales pitch?
A True Story
After seeing the gloomy face of the husband, the wife asked “did you not get it?” It was not just another Friday afternoon. It was one of the special Fridays for the husband who recently joined as an assistant professor in a reputed state university in California. But it did not turn out as he expected it to be. “What a bummer!”
To keep their real names private, let’s call it as Eric & Emma’s story. Both the husband and wife in the Hofmann family earned doctorate degree in different disciplines. Emma does not work now to take care of the children. But she keeps herself busy with the kids and also does different stuffs.
That devastating Friday was the day, when Eric got his third rejection for funding of a research proposal. “How come all the proposals get rejected? The academic politics sucks here! So vicious and unfaithful!”
“What’s wrong in this proposal? What comment did you get in the rejection email?” Emma asked. Eric yelled to her, “the same old lullaby, title looks good but there’s nothing new in it”. To drain his frustration, Emma said, “can we go for a walk in the trail?”
“Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, a 15-minutes drive from here”. “Hey, here’s some fresh homemade baklava, if you would like to try. I will get Peter and Maddy ready in 20 minutes”. After almost an hour, they reached to the trail and started walking. “Did you like it?”. “Yeah. I was hungry too. Feeling better now”.
The kids wanted to ride bikes like others at first. But they joined walking with their parents anyway. The weather was really beautiful that day.
As four of them started walking, Eric and Emma began casual chatting. After a while, Eric brought the relationships he made among colleagues in the department. He gave six presentations so far in the department, of his previous research and objectives of his future research goals. The last two proposals he got rejection, it was due to the mismatch of funding theme and research objective. But the last one, he was so hopeful because his title of the proposal was aligning 100% with the funding theme.
“Eric”, Emma resumed, “Last week, I got an invitation to pitch my story to HarperCollins. I saw you were busy, so did not disturb you”.
“How come? What about it?”
Emma said, “My high school friend Bianca and I went on a shopping a couple of months ago and I told her that I was working on a small story. I brought some parts of the story while both of us chatting and drinking coffee. Apparently, she liked those portions of my story and said she would help me”. “And now, this”.
“Look, centipede. Dad, watch out, don’t step on it!” Peter cried out.
Emma continued, “My gut feeling is telling that maybe, there’s the little vital part is missing in your proposal.” “Why is this proposal important or what’s new in it or why is this research different from others, these questions are not properly stated”.
“Maybe”. “So, is this your secret? You want me to write like a story form?”
Salespeople are always cheap
Yes, it’s true that there no perfect science behind sales pitch. But this skill is more important than just a degree. Most people would say, why not making this important skill mandatory for all college degree programs besides other courses? If a professor has dozens of different degree signatures such as B.A. M.A. B.Ed. PhD, MBA, MD, MDiv, JD etc. but feeble at speaking and explaining in front of students, what to blame here? The pitch.
Sales pitch is something which is needed all the time but having a PhD for an extra attention is always cool. This article might upset some PhD students or PhD holders but it’s a good read. As not all PhD graduates end up having their career in academia, the skills of sales pitch could save their life once they walk out of academic sphere.