The better way not to make a sale
I don’t mind receiving sales calls. I make them myself, after all. But please-please-please do not try to tell me that your sales call isn’t a sales call. I will not deal with a company whose first-contact strategy is trickery. Take the tired old “we’re taking a survey” routine that this morning’s caller tried to foist:
Company 1—No sale and they blew it
Caller: Do you have a few minutes for some brief survey questions?
Me: What’s for sale?
Caller: Nothing. I am calling to obtain your feedback.
I think but do not say: If you only knew how many sales calls come my way in the guise of a survey. But I shall give the caller a chance to come clean.
Me: What is the ultimate objective of this call?
Caller: Strictly to get your feedback.
I think but do not say: Strictly, eh?
Me: Most calls I receive of this nature are not truly for the purpose of obtaining my feedback but rather to see if I qualify as a prospect for a followup call. Is that what’s happening here?
Caller: [Long pause] More or less.
I think but do not say: Stay pleasant, Self. This isn’t the caller’s fault.
Me: Then the ultimate goal is to sell me something. You are a nice person, and I’m not mad at you, but I am displeased that your employer gives you a script designed to hide the real purpose of your call. Please send my comment up the ladder and remove my phone number from your list.
That is not the way not to make a sale. When you don’t make a sale, you would do well to leave me with a good taste in my mouth. That way, should circumstances change and I end up needing your services, I will remember you in positive terms. Take the refreshingly honest approach that the next caller took:
Company 2—No sale, but they didn’t blow it
Caller: Are you the person in charge of credit card processing?
Me: My clients pay by check and ACH transfer. The last time a client paid by credit card was a little over three years ago. The last time before that was five years ago. I’m a lousy prospect for your services.
Caller: [Laughs] OK, thanks for your time.
Neither company ended up with a sale. But Company 2 has my respect for getting to the point, not resorting to subterfuge, and knowing when to let go. I blocked Company 1’s number.