Steve Pham

There’s a funny meme spreading like wildfire on social media that caught my attention. It goes something like this:

“I just had a colonoscopy this week,” one X user wrote. “Here’s what it taught me about B2B sales.”

Or, “My wife filed for divorce this weekend,” another person posted. “Here’s what it taught me about unexpected market corrections.”

And, “My wife asked if she could have a boyfriend,” they continued. “Here’s what it taught me about mergers and acquisitions.”

In each instance, the formula is to reveal something uncomfortably personal and then use it for blatant self-promotion in the form of schmaltzy business advice.

While I found them weirdly hilarious, I wasn’t sure where this was coming from. A little internet sleuthing revealed that the original inspiration was a post on LinkedIn by Bryan Shankman:

“I proposed to my girlfriend this weekend. Here’s what it taught me about B2B sales.”

He goes on to outline seven “milestones … to ensure a Closed Won status at the end,” including prospecting, discovery, demo, pricing, negotiations, handling objections and closing. It seems Bryan was being entirely sincere in turning the experience of his proposal into a lesson on sales, even comparing his relationship to a “deal.”

The internet’s collective reaction was unanimous: This was quite possibly the cringiest move ever. Shankman was thoroughly roasted by nearly everyone, and much parodying ensued, giving birth to a meme.

The thing is, as a B2B writer myself, I get it. The poor guy was pursuing engagement and trying to make his mark in a noisy landscape. This is particularly challenging on a platform like LinkedIn, where yawn-inducing business content is a dime a dozen. Over the years, social media has inured us to oversharing, so it’s become normal to pepper posts with very personal details in an effort to reach your audience, and nowhere is this more noticeable (or cringier) than on a dry site like LinkedIn.

That audience engagement is not only important for business purposes, but it’s personally a big affirmation. For a writer, there is no greater compliment than when someone takes the time to let you know how your work has touched them in some way. I’ve been lucky enough to experience this a few times, and most interactions leave me feeling grateful that people have taken the time to read what I’ve written and energized to continue doing the work.

However, I did have one person approach me at a pool and spa show a few years ago who said, “I see what you do there — you start off with some story time, then talk business and at the end circle back to the story! Sounds pretty easy!”

Hmph. Easy, huh? Well, let me tell you something: I just wrote 475 words in the middle of the night. Here’s what it taught me about B2B sales…