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Thanks for Training Me Not to Answer My Phone!

By: Dave Brock


Training Me Not to Answer My Phone

I’ve stopped answering my phone—whether it’s my office, mobile, or home phone, I’ve stopped answering it unless:

  • I recognize the phone number and it’s someone I know.
  • I recognize the caller ID and it’s someone I’m willing to talk with—either someone I know or a company/person that I’m willing to talk with.
  • If for some reason, I’ve gone stupid and pick up a call from someone I don’t know, and I hear that dead air or clicking as I’m being connected to a person, I hang up before that person has the chance to connect. People I want to talk to know that and don’t need to use power dialers.

If your number doesn’t fit into the first two categories, I simply ignore the call. Perhaps it’s not the right thing to do, but it’s pragmatic. 98% of the calls I receive from numbers I don’t know are robocalls or robo sales people, simply dialing lists and executing their script. They have no idea what I do and whether our company is a fit for their products. They do not know how to engage me in a way that provokes my interest—simply because they talk about what they want to talk about, not what I care about.

Technology has made outbound cold calling so easy, consequently, it’s also made so many very sloppy and lazy in their targeting, segmenting, research, and execution. I was talking to someone who was a proponent of the dialing technologies. He said, “To get a 100-200 conversations a day, you have to make about 15,000 dials.”

The logic that follows is just doing the math. If you need to ratchet the conversations, let’s say to 200, now you have to do 30,000 dials. So now, rather than ignoring one call, I ignore two—multiplied by all the people who have adopted this as a great customer engagement strategy.

This gets worse, as people stop answering the phone—15K calls, we aren’t getting the 100 conversations, we find it takes 25K dials to produce those 100 conversations, or 50K to produce the 200.

You can see the death spiral created by sloppy/lazy marketing and sales.

While it is an unintended consequence (in fact quite the opposite of what people are trying to achieve), what this kind of marketing is doing is training customers not to answer their phones. I informally survey this, everyone I encounter, I ask, “Do you answer all the calls coming into your mobile or land line?” The answer is always “No!” I’ll let you guess the calls they refuse to answer.

Sloppy marketing and sales “trains” customers to respond in exactly the opposite way they intend for customers to respond.

Marketers have trained me to put filters on my email, viciously eliminating a huge percentage of my incoming email before it hits my inbox. I still get over 100 emails a day and viciously delete those that have gotten through my filters without even reading them.

Marketers and sales have trained me not to answer my phone.

I’m moving to other channels. I know within months, these marketers and sales people will find me there and start training me not to use these.

And here’s the problem for the rest of us. Sloppy marketing and sloppy sales execution is poisoning the well for everyone else! Yes, there are outstanding prospecting emails that do or would capture my interest. There are people using the telephone who I might learn from and want to talk to. But it’s a very small number in the context of the massive number of bad emails and phone calls I receive, they simply get lost.

It’s a problem for me and my team. We try to develop high impact very focused emails and calls. But we know a lot of our stuff will simply be lost, drowned in the mountains of crap that are being created by sloppy marketers/sales.

There’s an impact within the companies of those sloppy marketers and sales people. First, it’s becoming harder and harder for them to produce results (which is why they keep cranking up the volumes). Second, these have immensely negative impacts on the perception of their brands and companies. The degree to which people open the emails or answer the terrible calls, creates terrible brand/company impressions.

There are the hacks that don’t care. They aren’t trying to build and grow great businesses. They are only in it for the quick dollars they can make.

But there are the big brands that are doing the same things. Just before I started this post, I deleted 50 emails from my in box. About 30 (one email sent to me 30 times) from one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. Another 20 from one of the largest sales training companies in the US. I think less of those companies because they have demonstrated how little they think of me in their prospecting approaches. As a result, it will be harder for them to engage me in the future–perhaps impossible.

These problems and challenges have little to do with the changing buyer/customer. These are problems of our “industry/profession’s” making. Consequently, they are problems we can fix.

It’s incumbent on top executives and managers to closely inspect what marketing and sales is doing. Are they driven by a mindless rush to every increasing volume that produces fewer and fewer results? Stop it, invest the same time and money into creating high impact, value based conversations/messages. Ironically, doing this will mean you actually don’t need to chase the volumes you have to.

To the others, thank you for training me, through your examples, of why I shouldn’t respond to every channel you try to pollute!

Afterword: In the roughly 30 minutes it took me to write this, I have ignored 11 calls, collectively, on my mobile and primary office line.

Published: June 7, 2018

Source: Partners in Excellence

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Dave Brock

Dave Brock is the founder of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a consulting and services company helping to improve the effectiveness of business professionals with strategy development, organizational planning, and implementation. Dave has spent his career working for and with high performance organizations, ranging from the Fortune 25 to startups, including companies such as IBM, HP, Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft, General Electric, and many, many more. The work Dave does with business strategies is closely tied to personal effectiveness of the people in the organization. As a result, Dave is deeply involved in the development of a number of training and coaching programs.

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