Talk about an overwhelming majority! What do you think the result would be if the title of this blog were voted on by the general public in this country? Yet, it continues to take place, with no signs of slowing down. So it must be working for someone, somewhere - similar to form letters for credit cards, time share purchases and refi’s.
A couple days ago, I was on the receiving end of such a phone call and I was obviously one of the young kid’s first, if not the first, call. Although many people have absolutely no problem slamming down the phone (before or after a few well-chosen expletives), I feel some empathy since I had, as a kid, a door-to-door, cold-calling job and fully understand the incredibly high percentage of rejection that accompanies such a task. (Actually, it prepared me for the world of intercollegiate recruiting. Try calling a prospect and selling him on the merits of playing for Robert Morris College - after he may just have received a similar call from Syracuse).
Whether or not my recent caller wanted to hear what I had to say didn’t matter to me at that point, so I kindly said to him: “Are you reading this to me (which he obviously was)?”
“Yes,” he said sheepishly.
“C’mon now, you’ve got to be better than that. Let me try to help you. Although you might not want to hear this from me now (which may have been unfair, because he seemed like he truly did - and was ready to - listen), keep in mind I didn’t want to hear from you, so now the shoe’s on the other foot. When you make a call, especially a cold call, you’ve got to be more excited about what you’re doing for the person you’re talking to than just blandly reading some script off of a paper.
“You’re basically asking me to make a quarter of a million dollar deal (it was a call about refinancing) with me. With the way the economy is right now, do you really think I’m about to do that kind of business transaction with somebody I don’t know?” I was tempted to ask him if he’d ever actually had any success, but he was such a novice I thought I knew what his answer would have been.
Yet, that is a question I wonder about everytime I get a similar call or the topic comes up among friends. You may recall an episode of Seinfeld when Jerry got a call while his friends were in his apartment. He explained he was busy at that time, so could the caller please give him his home number so Jerry could return the call. Jerry heard the telemarketer say he couldn’t do that, to which Jerry replied, “Oh, that’s probably because you don’t want to be bothered while you’re at home. Well, now you know how I feel” and hung up. The boisterous response from the “live” crowd (apparently, everyone there had an - or several - identical experiences) completely drowned out the canned laughter.
I mean, think about it. Why would anybody, in their right mind, do business with a stranger, especially after the exposes by such wonderful watchdogs of society like John Stossel (see 7/2/08 blog)? Loyal readers of this blog will recall the name of John Savage, a friend and mentor, who tragically died nearly fifteen years ago.
John was a combination insurance salesman (I believe he still holds the record as the only person to speak at the insurance industry’s Million Dollar Round Table twelve years in a row), inspirational speaker, basketball fan, and the best friend any person could hope to have. The exact number of people who felt this way is unknown, but a good guess would be deeply into four figures. John was also one of the most logical people I’ve ever known. His greatest ability was to “cut to the chase” of any problem confronting him.
He explained, at the time, that most insurance companies had the motto: 10-3-1, which stood for 10 calls, 3 meetings, 1 sale. John would tell young insurance agents his philosophy was 10-10-10, i.e. 10 calls, 10, meetings, 10 sales. It wasn’t his confidence (which he had in abundance), but his theory that “cold calls” were a waste of time. Always do business with someone who knows something about you, possibly from a testimonial about you that person’s heard from someone they know (and trust). His quote was, “People don’t buy products; people buy people.”
John was a big believer in trust. Not exactly a revolutionary thought, but he was as trustworthy a person as you’d ever meet, so it was easier to trust him. There have been several of my “wrap-up” quotes that are directly attributable to him (4/26/07, 4/30/07, 5/30/07, 8/23/07, 2/24/08, 3/31/08). To sum up this blog, I’ll borrow a quote not from John Savage, but from Immanuel Kant, which should be taught in every telemarketing seminar:
“Act in such a way that you always treat other people not merely as a means to some end, but also as ends in themselves.”