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Can I speak to the business owner?

By JAMES COAKES Published 17th Oct 2016
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I was surprised to get a call this morning from a nervous sounding young lady who asked; 'Please can I speak to the business owner?' I asked what she was selling and she told me that it was printing and stationary. I told her that we were not interested and she accepted that and hung up. Calls like there were fairly common before the internet, but now they are quite rare. What is the success rate of her strategy? I'm guessing that it is fairly low.

Many people hate cold calls. The telephone is a very rude device. It sits on the desk shouting 'Me! Me! Me!' when it rings and expects to interrupt whatever you're doing at the time. The internet has largely replaced it as a more successful marketing tool, however marketers know that it is getting harder and harder to engage with an increasingly overwhelmed audience. Anecdotal testimony suggests that printed marketing, mailshots and lumpy mail are making a comeback as a way of standing out. There may be some truth in that.

So could telesales make a comeback? I sense your rage, but bear with me for a moment. There were a few problems with this morning's approach. These days it is easy to find out the name of 'the owner of the business' and there is really no excuse for using such a terribly impersonal phrase. However, getting past a gatekeeper even when you know that is almost impossible.

Then there' s the 'speak to' element. A good sales person is an adviser. They have to gain the trust of their customers. You do not gain trust by speaking to someone, but by speaking with them.

And then there is the meekness of the approach. The lack of conviction in her voice and how easily she gave up. All sales people are told in training that success is a matter of tenacity. Yet the very meekness of her approach meant that we had a polite yet futile chat. One of maybe 100 for her today. There have been overconfident telesales types who have earned a much less polite response. Don't blame me, you hate it too.

I can understand why well considered postal marketing might make a comeback in a crowded market. It doesn't arrive shouting noisily for attention. Telesales, however, is something that should never come back.

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