Is This a Trend? Three Horrible Calls Reviewed
By Art Sobczak
I'm asking for your tolerance in this column as I blow off steam about what appears to be a trend in telephone solicitation (it doesn't even deserve the name telemarketing or telesales), at least in my experience over the past few weeks, that darkens the already-blackened eye of the image of inside sales reps (even professionals like you) as a collective group. Let's look at these calls.
Awful Call Number One
I've been a subscriber to Sports Illustrated magazine since I was old enough to read. Received a call from a rep (unenthusiastically and poorly reading a script) who explained SI's new book of the "Greatest Moments in Sports" or some such thing, full of photos, blah, blah, blah. She asked me no questions, asked for no response, and in her pitch she mentioned several times she was sending me the book. I repeat, she said she was sending me the book, and I hadn't so much as grunted yet! She finally got to the next part:
"As a preferred subscriber, we will be sending you this book, and if you decide to keep it, it's only $24.95. All I need to do is verify your address. (She recited it and I concurred.) We do accept all major credit cards, which will you be using?"
I said, "Let me get this right. You're sending me a book. I didn't ask for it, and you never did ask me if I wanted it, right."
"Uhh, I guess."
"Well, do what you want, but if you send it, I'll consider it as a gift."
Awful Call Number Two
The caller informed my assistant that she was with US West, my local phone company. I took the call, as I do all calls to me (can't afford to miss potentially great material for this column, and seminars!)
"Hello, this is Service Operator Amber, with GLD Business Savings Plan and we're going to be applying a 40% discount to all of your AT&T Lines. The service is free of charge since you're a business, and it's just an incentive to help you remain loyal to AT&T. I just need to verify your company name (I verified it), and what is your first and last name (I gave it to her). Ok, my computer records show that over a six month period you average a minimum of $20 a month in long distance, is that correct.?"
I questioned how she knew that, and she said, "It just came up on my computer." Alrighty, then. "Now please hold and I'll put you on line with Verifications, they'll just ask you some questions and make sure your address is correct. This is an FCC regulation. Now let me explain, that when you hear the verifier say you're giving your approval to convert your service to the GLD Savings Plan . . ."
I jumped in, "NO. I'm not doing that."
"Uh, what they mean by that is if you're receiving a 10% discount from AT&T it will be replaced by the 40% discount . . . it doesn't mean you're switching from AT&T because you're still on the AT&T network, and you're still billed by the AT&T bill manager."
I asked her what would happen if I didn't have AT&T (which she didn't bother to ask). She explained that I'd still be eligible for 40% off my "standard rate," which she didn't know or ask, but kept referring to 40% off. I'll spare you the rest because this call sickens me. I did get a supervisor on the phone and blasted her for what I consider an unethical approach. She lamely tried to defend it, but finally admitted she was with a service agency in Missouri contracted by GLD to place these calls using this script.
Awful Call Number Three
After identifying herself and her company, the caller said,
"I'm calling today to tell you about a new low-cost way for your company to attract a whole new market of potential customers over the Internet." Actually a pretty darn good opening statement so far. Got my attention. But the warm fuzzy feelings didn't last long.
"What QuickPages will do for you is set you up with a home page with a web address unique to your business. You can include up to 200 words to describe your business. Now, let me just verify your company name (notice the trend here from the other calls?) And you would be the contact name on this account?
Unbelievable. A presentation and close, two sentences after the opening, without any questions of me. (I guess that might be termed call efficiency?) At some point here she mentioned the cost of the service, which, by the way was overpriced for hosting just one web page, and she was going into the final details of how I would be billed, and so on.
Finally, I stopped her.
"You just gave an entire presentation, assumed a sale, and asked me no questions whatsoever other than my company name and address. And you've treated me like an Internet illiterate. How do you know that I don't already have an extensive web site?"
She mumbled and bumbled a bit. I eased up on her, mainly because she admitted she was just reading her script, and she sounded honest. She even read the script back to me so I could tape record it. Again, this was a telemarketing service agency, Future-call, contracted to do the phoning for the client.
What to Do?
What's up with "salespeople" reading from these scripts, and as with each of these cases assuming a sale? It seems to be that this is so inane the approach would eradicate itself due to lack of success. And do the people at these service agencies and client companies think prospects are so stupid that they'll fall for stuff like this?
Fellow professional, I hope you're as outraged by these tactics as I am. It wouldn't bother me if no one other than the offending culprits were affected, but we're all lumped in whenever the words "telemarketing," "annoying," and "scams," are mentioned in the same conversation. People are getting calls like these every day, and it makes it tougher for you, the skilled salesperson, using a customer-oriented consultative approach, to have an opportunity to speak with someone who has an open mind.
What to do? Aside from continuing using your professional approach on calls, I suggest jumping on these people when you get calls like this; not the poor callers who are reading from the scripts, but the agency managers and client companies who approve and create such damaging garbage.
About the Author
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone, provides proven
ideas, tips, and processes to help salespeople use the phone to
prospect, sell and service without morale-killing rejection. To
see word-for-word phrases you can use right now to get to and sell
more buyers, and other resources such as books, audios, and
seminars, and to get his FREE weekly TelE-Sales Tips, and access
to back issues, go to: http://www.BusinessByPhone.com
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