Some joys in life bring us closer to our friends and family; up there beside delicious meals and good movies is the act of firmly hanging up on telemarketing calls. Why do these calls get under everyone’s skin so much? Telemarketing improved on door-to-door sales, internet catalogues improved on telemarketing, etc. Somewhere along the line, we as consumers began to assume that newness renders previous methods obsolete and occasionally intrusive, stepping all over the perceived privacy created by automation. Do we really want to be left alone, or does the simplicity of quiet clicking and typing lead us to assume as much? Telemarketers remain informative resources, brightly human ones at that, in contrast to countless walls of text and clickbait. But the odds of combating the stereotype of “Hello? Who is this? Not interested!” are stacked against us and stacking higher.
Sometimes the benefits of telemarketing are as simple as serendipity. After speaking with a representative about products you’re interested in, you just might walk away with a new perspective on your approach to ordering. Or better, with a sense of trust in the company reaching out to you. Or, if we’re talking Holy Grail level serendipity, you could unintentionally discover the exact product that addresses an unspoken issue you hadn’t yet considered alleviating. As a customer, you have the benefit of being marketed to as an individual, and of taking a breather from the smear of internet advertising generated from an approximation of your browsing patterns. The benefits aren’t half bad considering how little investment it takes to chat with someone for a quick call. And still, many of us are convinced that our daily schedules are too full to benefit from telemarketing.
As is the case with any evolving strategy, the best solution to address this impatience often includes elements of old mixed with new. At Clinical Supply, we use phone calls to refer customers and prospects to our website for full product listings, and we call offices who’ve placed their first orders with us online to say hello and review their information. By combining the most efficient strengths from a variety of mediums, we give our customers some freedom to choose how they’d like to interact with us… though our icebreaker strategy remains the trusty ol’ personable phone call. That way, we establish a single sales rep as the main point of contact to keep track of customers’ accounts. And it doesn’t hurt to introduce ourselves and our gloves in a way that encourages questions, clarity, and room for nuance right from the beginning. We find this to be the best way to serve our mission of providing superior customer service.
To small businesses’ benefit, telemarketing provides direct, detailed data that is easier and more affordable to quantify than tracking interactions with digital marketing, for example. This helps companies like us follow up with prospects and customers to see how products are working for them and what else could be up their alley. Plus, introducing ourselves verbally provides us with the opportunity to be as concise and flexible as we see fit, reflecting company updates and offers as they occur.
Our sales reps (and all good telemarketers) have guidelines to ensure a hassle-free interaction. Pitch-related remarks are reserved for the decisionmaker, who is (usually) protected by someone who initially answers the phone— that would be the gatekeeper. Although “getting past the gatekeeper” sounds like the preamble to a perky woodland Tolkien adventure, this is a simple step for telemarketers to make themselves heard and avoid the blow-off response. To further improve our chances, we scrutinize our call lists to make sure the practices we contact are active, that we’re calling businesses instead of home phone numbers, and that we’re calling businesses with a pronounced need for our products (primarily dental offices).
When you think about it, asking for the decisionmaker is simple phone etiquette that could go a long way in helping civilians improve their telemarketer-tolerance all over this sprawling tele-nation. There’s no question that useful, quality products can be marketed over the phone, but with the odds of patience stacked towards a passionate hang-up, the burden of appeal has to be a top priority when scooting past the gatekeeper. As mentioned in a previous post, we at Clinical Supply like to call our prospects and ask who is in charge of ordering gloves, then offer to send glove samples to their office—like bringing a dish to someone’s party. Otherwise, to the gatekeeper, the slightest whiff of scripted conversation or pointed spiel gives away that unmistakable telemarketer smell, making them feel like another notch on a list, another tree being barked up.
Even when telemarketers follow the admirable intentions of their heart, soul, and call sheet, scam calls give the rest of us a bad name and headaches of our own. These calls have been gumming up phone lines and patience for decades, of course. But not until recently have scam and robocalls become so unavoidable that they’re competing with the number of phone calls exchanged between real humans. From 2017 to 2018, the ratio of scam calls to all phone calls grew from 3.7% to an eyewatering 29.2%, and that number is expected to reach 44% in early 2019.** It’s not exactly the dreaded tech apocalypse foreshadowed by sci-fi thrillers and luddites, but it’s still a massive nuisance. Worse, when unknown numbers appear on phone screens, we’ve become conditioned to expect that the stranger is trying to swindle us out of money or into hearing an eerie, almost-human-sounding automated message. For those of us trying to spread the good word of PosiPrene, it’s baffling to share the playing field with selfish robot schemes.
Thankfully, we’re still able to get in touch with new offices every day. While the right phone etiquette and strange-number-wariness could save everyone a lot of apprehension about accepting calls, it doesn’t hurt to work with a high-quality glove that ends up speaking for itself.
** (figure by First Orion, a communications security company working to block our robocalls and restore trust in answering our phones. https://firstorion.com/nearly-50-of-u-s-mobile-traffic-will-be-scam-calls-by-2019)