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  • Diana Schneidman

Crappy advice on how to get prospects to answer your call

A sales expert recommends that when phoning to follow up on freelance or consulting proposals, you should block your phone number because they “have to” take the call if they don’t know who it is.

Before responding to this advice, some background:

In the last month I’ve received record numbers of nuisance phone calls. This is not surprising, considering the national election took place three weeks ago. I got robocalls for candidates and calls asking me to participate in political surveys.

In addition, I’ve been called by both computers and people making unexplained offers in conjunction with my credit cards. Then there are all the miscellaneous sales calls.

Several years ago I wrote about why I hang up on cold callers and was reprimanded by a commenter (perhaps with good reason) that I should be more understanding of these people who don’t make much money and have truly miserable jobs.

Since then I’ve been more polite when rejecting human calls, but it isn’t easy, considering that when I stay on the phone asking to be deleted from the calling list, my call is dropped or I am put on hold for interminable periods until I hang up. And when I followed through on a call from a bank (so I could ask to be taken off the list), the phoner could not even tell me which bank or credit card he represented.

Other times I let the call roll through to voicemail since I have heard that some of these calls, especially those where I answer and there’s nothing there, are done merely to test which phone numbers are good. I figure if the call is worthwhile, they’ll leave a message. If it’s a test, no point in answering. (I always check my voicemail and I do it promptly.)

Now, on to the real issue:

On the surface, it appears to be contradictory that I am so negative towards the cold calls I receive when I have built my own practice by phoning and I recommend it to other freelancers and consultants.

There are many ways in which my practices differ from those of the callers who phone me. I only phone businesses. I make my own calls instead of giving scripts to people who don’t know what’s going on. No robocalls, nothing electronic.

One of the most important ways in which I am different is that I do not hide my phone number and I do not call from an 800 number.

Which leads to the crappy advice I referred to in the title:

A cold call expert recommends that to follow up on proposals you have submitted when your call is not answered, you should block your phone number because then they “have to” take your call. Supposedly this blocking can be done on an individual call by keying in *67. (It didn’t work on my phone when I tried it just now, but maybe it will work for you.)

This is lousy advice because I don’t want to keep my identity a secret. I offer valuable services to my prospects and I want them to know that I am interested in them and want to build a relationship. I would expect people to want to talk to me, not to avoid me. Furthermore, I do not phone so often as to be a nuisance.

There is a second reason why this is bad advice: No one “has to” do anything. They can let voicemail pick up the call. Believe me, no one is so tortured by wondering who it is that they have to pick up.

Anyone can hang up at any time so they don’t have to keep a conversation going.

I also detest surefire sales phrases that use the words “have to.”

They go something like this: “Mr. Prospect, if I could show you how my service saves you time and money, wouldn’t you agree that you have to buy it?”

No, I don’t have to agree.

Originally posted 11-26-12

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