Why do companies still try to con us when they cold-call? Perhaps we’d be more receptive (and polite) when receiving sales calls if the person on the other end of the phone wasn’t trying to hoodwink us to listen to what they have to say.
We’ve all been on the receiving end. The telephone rings: “Hello, my name’s John and I’m calling from the International Research Institute. We’re putting together a survey on (insert subject name here) and I was wondering whether you had a few minutes to answer some questions?”
Being Taken For A Ride
It’s tempting, isn’t it? John hasn’t given you the impression that he’s trying to get you to part with any money. John’s is only preparing a survey. He’s asking you, ever so politely, if you wouldn’t mind taking some time out of your busy day to help him. You’re a good person, so when someone asks you for help you want to oblige. Right?
Which is exactly what John’s betting on. Of course, in reality there is no survey. It’s an elaborate lie. John isn’t calling about you answering questions to help him prepare some survey – he’s trying to sell you something. He’s using the ‘survey’ ruse in the hope that you won’t hang up. He doesn’t care about your answers to his questions. In fact, his name probably isn’t even John.
After a while helping out John with his survey questions, you suddenly realize what the call is really about. You feel tricked – which is understandable, since that’s exactly what’s happened. Your defenses go up.
Perhaps you would have been interested in the product or service John was selling if he had been honest with you at the beginning. But now that you’ve seen through John’s façade, you’re angry. Whatever the deal, whatever the offer, you don’t want to know. You just want to get John off the telephone as fast as possible.
So what are we left with? Clearly John’s lost any chance of a sale – that’s a given. You’re angry that John had the audacity to think that he could fool you into parting with your money, and that he had you for a while. Not only that, you’re so furious about the whole episode that it’s more likely for your grandmother to win a triathlon on her first attempt than you ever buying anything from the company that John represents.
From ‘Suspect’ To ‘Prospect’
Whenever a prospective customer is on the receiving end of a sales pitch, they are testing you. They are looking for an opportunity to say ‘no’. They are looking for reasons not to buy – whether those reasons are based upon quality, features, price, looks, size, color or 101 other criteria.
Your job, in the time they’re on the phone, is to build enough credibility and trust to move them to a position where they’re receptive to the idea of buying from you. In sales parlance, you’re moving them from a “suspect” to a “prospect”.
I totally understand that telephone sales is a hard job. I’ve been there. I remember the days of sitting down at my desk with a strong cup of coffee in one hand, and a copy of The Yellow Pages in the other.
Moreover cold-calling is getting harder. Today, we have less of an issue telling telesales reps where to go when we’re the recipient of a cold call. The success rates of the average telesales campaign must be along the lines of getting struck by lightning every day for a month. As a result, call centers have to come up with ever more ‘creative’ ways to keep punters on the line.
I empathize with all of this: cold-calling is a tough gig. But regardless of how great your product or service is, I would say that blatant dishonesty scores highly as a reason not to buy. Wouldn’t you?