I received a call the other day from a guy named Tom. Tom was calling on behalf of his digital marketing agency that offers webinars for software companies, and was sent my way by my client, Jerry, with whom we are engaged for inbound marketing.
Tom cold-called Jerry, and Jerry apparently could not reject him meanly enough, so Tom was given my information, so I could basically tell him to f**k off. Although, knowing my client, he probably felt that telling the marketing agency to call his marketing agency would be enough for the guy to get the hint. But he didn't, because some crazy sales supervisor or business owner told Tom that he couldn't stop until he hit his calling quotas.
What came next had to have been the most moronic thing I have ever experienced in all my years of sales, marketing, and business ownership.
MORE LIKE THIS: I Wouldn't Buy From You in a Million Years! B2B Sales FAIL
No hint was even REMOTELY taken.
I'm normally a pretty nice guy. I don't call others names. I don't make fun of the things that make people quirky or wierd. I might say that you're wierd, but I'll say it to your face, and it will be with respect and affection. I'm wierd. I like being wierd. If you're wierd in my mind, that's a good thing.
And I definitely won't call people stupid... I won't even use that word unless something is just plain absurd in my mind. When I DO use it, I will call things and situations stupid, but not people... or at least that's what I shoot for (sorry to those I may have missed with).
I AM a nice guy though. If you don't believe me, check out the recommendations on my LinkedIn profile.
Tom & Jerry's Cat & Mouse Game
It was clear to me 5 seconds into the conversation that Tom is not somebody who will take no for an answer. You either give him his desired next steps or hang up on him. Those are his two options.
It started with, "Hi, I'm Tom, calling from such and such digital marketing agency, and we help businesses with Webinars. I had called Jerry, from xyz, and he said that you guys handle his marketing."
He revealed that he cold-called my client, then tried to steal our business, and when that didn't work, Jerry, my client who was too polite to just hang up, instead zigged and zagged, and was able to convince Tom that he's better off talking to his direct competitors over at Orange Pegs.
Quick pause... Is this REALLY the kind of call you want your top salespeople to be making? For my staffing agency friends, I know your pain when it comes to dealing with big accounts that go through another agency. In those instances, it's the cost of doing business with big volume accounts, but it's never a good position to be in, so the benefit MUST outweigh the cost.
In this case, it seems like a no-brainer, "let's-move-on-but-keep-the-actual-company-on-my-tickler-in-case-those-other-guys-don't-deliver" kind of situation... Why even BOTHER? What could you possibly tell me that makes this worth chasing?
Seriously, please let me know if you have a good answer for this. I'm not being sarcastic. Why chase this tiger?
One, two, three strikes you're... oooou..still...going...
Once Tom let me breathe, I said to him (pardon my self-serving paraphrasing - I'm sure it wasn't this eloquent, even though I'm using quotations - but the general gist is here and accurate), "Thanks for the call. To start, did you happen to check us out online before you called?"
(strike 2, he didn't... I could hear the desparate clickity clack follow immediately in that short, but obvious pause between my question and his answer - by the way, strike 1 came when picked up the phone and dialed my number)
"Yes," said Tom. (strike 2 - I HATE IT when people try to bullshit me!)
"So, you'll know that we're a full-service inbound marketing agency, and we actually do provide webinars for our clients." (strike 3)
More clickity clacking with another slight pause... "Sure," he said. "When I talked to Jerry, he thought we should talk, because we specialize in these webinars..."
Cutting him off, "Okay, sure, I am definitely open to working with freelancers when we have specialized needs, and it's good to have a working pool that we can always dip into."
"Okay, great," he cheerfully responded.
"That said, I only work with freelancers in the US. You guys are from Canada, and as much as I love my friendly neighbors to the North, I am not interested in exporting high-paying, high-skill jobs to other countries when there is so much talent here in the US, my home, where we NEED more jobs. I am a patriot, and it's just something I feel very strongly about." (strike 4)
I continued, "And quite frankly, I don't see how somebody from another country can really relate to my clients, which are all here in the US (strike 5). Working in a US-based company is VERY different from working in any other country. When I see others outsource their marketing, it's apparent to me - often painfully so (strike 6). They tend to regurgitate the same crap everybody else is writing about, because they have no original experiences to draw from. MY people have actually worked for companies in the industries we serve here in the US. That makes a HUGE difference in the quality of our output, which means a huge difference in our clients reaching their goals." (strike 7)
"Sure, I get that too," Tom replied. "Why don't I send over some information about us just in case you DO run into a need in the future, then maybe you can pull out your calendar, and we can come up with a time to reconnect early next week?"
I cut him off... again... "Tom, I'm not sure if I'm being clear or not, but I don't see us working together, A) because we do this work ourselves, B) when we DO bring in specialized or overflow help, we bring in FREELANCERS, folks with potential of becoming an employee of my agency, not other agencies, and C) you're in Canada. (Strikes 8, 9, and 10) If you want to send your information, that's fine."
"Sure, I understand. Your email address is email@example.com, correct?"
"Yes." (it most certainly is NOT, and it DEFINITELY bounced - so, strike 11. Also, that's when I realized that my client wasn't being totally forthcoming with my contact information... so, STRIKE 12 for even thinking they should continue pushing forward... which they do - somehow, they do)
But that didn't stop Tom from swinging ONE more time. He eventually tracked down my correct email address about 2 weeks later, and spent time on actually crafting an email that I deleted without reading (strike 13 for the email and strike 14 for the delete).
But he hit his call quota and didn't take "no" for an answer... So, he's awesome
As far as his supervisor is concerned, he did a GREAT job with that. Just GREAT. Why? Because he never gave up. He never took no for an answer, and those are the "mark of a true salesperson." Right?
Isn't that the rationale you're using when force-feeding your sales teams with a playbook that's 100% cold?
It's okay to say yes. It may just be a matter of finding a better solution for you (like THIS ONE).
I remember when I was a cold caller, and my boss would get complaints from people who said I was relentlessly hounding them - because, well... I was relentlessly hounding them. But was that considered bad? Uh, not even a little. They joked about it, calling me the "Hound Dawg."
It was even seen as a badge of honor and proof that I was pushing as far as I possibly could with each call.
Our customers hated me... even the ones I was able to wear down long enough to sign a deal. I'm sure your clients feel the same - and they know it's coming from you, because it's your playbook.
Is that how you want your clients to perceive your business? As relentless hound dogs?
I suppose there are some of you thinking, "absolutely, yes, we HUSTLE for OUR business AND our clients!" After all, MY managers and senior managers were saying exactly that.
But if your business was put on this earth to provide a product or service that's supposed to remove friction and create a partnership-like relationship between provider and customer, then I find it very difficult to accept that kind of rationale.
Nobody wants to be cold-called. YOU don't even want to be cold-called! I personally won't work with a business that leads by disrespecting my time and space and intelligence. That's what cold-calling does. You use tricks and deceit to get what you want, only seeing prospects as dollar signs, not people. And that does not fly with me.
It doesn't fly with your customers either. Learn more about why that is.
What about the financial implications?
Ah... maybe I should have started here. You can replace cold-calling with inbound marketing, and your cost of customer acquisition could actually drop by 50% or more. Here's a collection of statistics compiled by an independent MIT study of inbound marketers, which was later published by Hubspot.
So, if having a sales team represent the core values of your business is not enough, perhaps your bottom line is.
Your salespeople are some of your highest paid staff. Why are they spending so much time sorting your garbage? Put leads that are actually worth a damn in front of them. Enough of this squeezing blood out of a stone nonsense.
If you're wondering what my solution is, it's this. Inbound marketing is a method of lead generation and nurturing that allows your sales people to actually act as trusted business consultants, rather than telemarketers who won't get a f&*(&7&g clue!
Can you imagine how much different these calls would go if your leads actually knew about your business and gave you permission to market and sell to them in the first place? I can't either... These types of of toxic time-wasters are practically non-existent with inbound leads. Click HERE to see what I mean.
If you want help rejecting those cold callers who won't listen, check out our free BUSINESS REJECTION HOTLINE: