Things you should know if you’re going to make a sales pitch to me

I receive a fair few phone calls from people wanting to sell the Liberal Democrats the latest / neweset / best technology. So I thought I’d share some tips on how to ring me. Alas, all of these are based on actual events. The worst sales call I can recall managed six of these in one nine minute call of pure joy.

1. If you’re ringing an organisation, it’s a good idea to get its name right. And no, I don’t work for “The Democratic Party”. (If you’ve got any doubts on the importance of this, try ringing M+S to sell something to “Marks and Lewis”.)

2. If you think your service or product would be useful for our party leader, that would be great. But he’s not called “Gordon Brown”. Really.

3. It’s not a good idea to claim you are the only person who can provide X when I’ve already been getting X from another firm for five years.

4. If you’re promoting the virtues of high-quality, personalised communications, it’s probably a good idea to have found out my name before getting in touch. Otherwise it seems a mite, shall we say… discordant.

5. If you’re going to send me a letter promoting the virtues of database cleaning services, it’s not a good idea if the name, job title and address are all wrong. Every time. (The first time I thought this might be a clever piece of direct mail – ‘Isn’t it annoying when people get your name and address wrong? Well now you can get your data checked by us…’ – but no, it was just an error).

6. If you’re making a sales call, it’s a good idea to have an answer to my question, “So what is it that you do that I can’t get from other firms?”

7. Or even “So what is it you do?”

8. Or “So who are you?”. It’s ok, you don’t have to give your inside leg measurement in reply, but no name, no firm, no address does come over a little odd.

9. If I ask “Is this a sales call?”, if you say “no” and then launch into a sales pitch, I’ll probably notice.

10. If I ask you the colour of the carpet in your office, it’s best to tell me. (You do know why I ask, don’t you?)

11. If I ask, “How much is it going to cost?”, I’m not looking for an answer that skips most of the costs.

12. I prefer it if, when you make a call, you have a pen, computer or clerk with amazing memory to hand so that if I give you a piece of information you don’t have to put me on hold for six minutes listening to Chris De Burgh whilst you try to record it somewhere. (Put me on hold listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival though, and you might have a chance.)

13. If you’ve never run an election campaign, aren’t sure what day elections take place and don’t know how long it is between general elections, you may find you don’t persuade me that you know all about how to win the next election and that I should junk everything I’ve learnt.

14. Opposites don’t always attract. Telling me how much you hate politics may not be a wise move.

And with that, my voicemail awaits.

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27 Comments

  • 19. Do take a hint and bother someone else “that sounds very interesting, but you know who’d really like to hear more about that… Mark Pack’s number is 0207…”

  • 20. Don’t claim that there is some special exemption you have under TPS allowing you to make sales calls to me when you don’t have a pre-existing trading relationship.

  • See, I love sales calls. It feeds my meglomania. I have these people calling me up in supplication, willing to commercially shaft themselves just to make a sale. I possibly shouldn’t give the game away, but:

    21. If a customer tells you that a product is being sold by a competitor at a significantly lower price than yours, you should probably check that they’re telling the truth before you lower your price to beat that one.

  • Chris Keating 11th Mar '09 - 10:41am

    22. If asked “Where did you get my phone number from”, the answer “the Marketing department”, while perhaps strictly true, is unlikely to help the person you are speaking to.

    Particularly if the person you’re calling is the Marketing Department.

  • 23. When your company phones me up once every two months, I may notice that you don’t just want to “update my details” but are trying to sell me something. Please just get on with it.

    24. If you have a number of separate clients in a federal organisation, like the Lib Dems, give all of those to the same call centre operator(s), so we don’t have to run through the same bloody conversations every time (“I don’t care that version X3 comes with thousands of templates, I won’t be using your school fete templates to make Lib Dem leaflets”, etc)

    Serif, of PagePlus fame, should take particular note of these two.

  • Plus I’d also really like to know the answer to the carpet question

  • “If you’re going to send me a letter promoting the virtues of database cleaning services, it’s not a good idea if the name, job title and address are all wrong.”

    Do you think that the Royal Mail might just have delivered someone else’s post to you that day?

  • Are you a particularly anal member of parliamentary staff and get fidgety if someone is standing on the wrong coloured carpet?

  • Alix Mortimer 11th Mar '09 - 2:43pm

    Ok, it’s something to do with whether they hesitate or not? Because if they have to switch back to the “real world” to answer your question, then it means they’re an unconvinced salesperson putting on an act to make the call?

  • David Allen 11th Mar '09 - 3:12pm

    It’s because the guy operates out of a Wetherspoons pub with an eesicleen floor…

  • I believe Dr. Pack’s carpet question is easily explained by his involvement in the League Against Cruelty to Call Centre Workers.

    It is a sad trend in recent years that many call centre jobs have been exported from their natural homes in Sheffield and Haringey to parts of the world where labour and workplace health and safety standards are less rigorously enforced (yes even than Haringey).

    The moment the operative stumbles and says something like ‘we have no carpet’ only ‘bamboo’ or ‘broken glass and cigarette ends’, they have been rumbled.

    Dr. Pack traces the call and dispatches a local field agent to shame the employer into providing their employees with WLO and ISO-approved shagpiles or at the very least linoleum tiles with anti-slip surfaces.

    Thus in his own small way does he contribute to the ending of the tyranny of no-carpet cruelty in the hard world of white-collar slavery engendered by global free trade and cheaper deals on car insurance.

    Naturally he can’t talk about this, as, to silence their campaign, the dark telecommunication and outsourcing forces ranged against LACCCW have been known to resort to extreme measures such as sending them repetitive fax noises down their phoneline and passing their details on to personal loan companies.

    Dr. Pack we salute your silent crusade.

  • Richard Dolby 11th Mar '09 - 11:20pm

    Oh, what a wag you are Mr Pack !!

  • Will we never find out what the carpet thing was about?

  • The carpet question isn’t really about carpets. It’s a proxy for any question Mark might ask the sales person. They may not know why Mark’s asking, but if they can answer the question, they should.

    Alternatively, this is simply an attempt to go viral.

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