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Do you hang up on cold calls? My surprising revelation

If you’ve read many of my articles or if you’ve seen my new ebook, you know that I heartily endorse cold calling to build service businesses. (I prefer to call it “telephoning,” but I use the term “cold calling” to cater to Google.)

I believe in cold calling because it gives me the opportunity to offer something of value to the people most likely to welcome my services. I’m strategic in selecting people to phone and I engage in a friendly, relaxed conversation. I’m proud to be a telephoner.

And I am proud to have originated many thousands of dollars in income and warm, long-term customer relationships through these phone calls.

So I’d guess you think I politely take telemarketing calls and hang on till the caller understands why I am not buying (or donating) and wishes me a sincere good evening. Or you may even think that I buy or donate or whatever because my heart goes out to people who are simply trying to make an honest living.

Surprisingly, I often hang up. Let me explain why.

Reason number one is that I am generally not interested and they have no reason to think I would be interested. I’m saving them time so they can go on to a more likely prospect.

Reason number two is that telemarketers read from scripts they clearly didn’t write. They drone on in a monotone, tripping on words they are not comfortable with. Ugh! And it’s even more of a turn-off when I can hear masses of telemarketers all talking in the background.

Reason number three is that the caller has become obnoxious. For instance, I recently eavesdropped when a major political party phoned an unemployed friend who had donated in the past. He said he could not donate again because he was unemployed, and they proceeded to tell him how important it is to maintain an ongoing mass media campaign for elections that are months in the future.

I would have hung up immediately. I am not obligated to tell strangers deeply personal information to justify my decision. And then for them to prolong the misery with more pressure is exceptionally distasteful. Click!

Reason number four is that some telemarketers call too persistently. My bank called repeatedly to peddle an insurance product I did not want, and I repeatedly said I was not interested. Finally I raised “heck” with a supervisor and got off the list. A limited number of repeat calls is acceptable when getting voice mail, but a one-on-one “no” means “no.” And it means to wait awhile (maybe even till forever) before calling again.

In contrast, here’s how I do my calls.

I ask if the other person uses services such as mine. If they say yes, I ask about their needs and how we could proceed to work together.

If they say no, I ask if they may be interested in the future or pose some other polite follow-up question.

If they still say no, I thank them for their time and get off the phone.

People don’t have to hang up on me to get rid of me. I just wish other callers were as polite.


Originally posted 8-17-10

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