I’ve always been a big proponent of including a little human engagement in your marketing activities. In a competitive market, when a product is as good as (or better than) those of your competitors, the way you treat your customers will make you stand out as the leading choice.
This is why I’m a great believer in “warm” calling.
Warm Calling vs. Cold Calling
A warm call follows a series of prior engagements with a prospect. Perhaps they have registered for a newsletter, attended a webinar or downloaded a white paper. The fact is, this prospect knows you and has some idea of the services you can offer.
A cold call is a very different beast — and while some salespeople still believe in making them, I’m 100% sure most would prefer to work in a warmer environment.
Warm Leads Left Cold
A little more than 18 months ago, I was duped into providing my contact details to a timeshare marketer at an airport in Tenerife, Spain.
Yesterday, a sales representative from the company made her first approach by phone (I’d unsubscribed from the company’s emails as soon as I started receiving them).
I don’t normally take cold calls (though I welcome warm ones), but her initial approach was so staggeringly bad, I felt obliged to listen and share with the readers of this blog.
4 Sales Pitches Gone Bad
- The Informal Greeting: Imagine this sentence in a northern English accent: “Hiya mate. Are you alright? It’s Tracey from XYZ Holidays.” My first thought was, “Who is this?” Was it a client that I hadn’t spoken to for a while or perhaps a new prospect looking for a little marketing advice (she could have done with it)? She spoke to me like she was arranging to meet her friends at the pub that evening. She made no attempt to find out whether she was speaking to the right person and went straight into her pitch. Now, as it happens, I’m quite an informal person and enjoy a relaxed approach to business, but (because I was brought up with manners) I always like to enter a professional conversation in a more formal manner. I might well become your “mate” in the future — but that takes a little time.
- Do You Remember? Bearing in mind my initial engagement with this organization was 18+ months ago at an ungodly hour in a check-in queue at a Spanish airport — I had no idea who XYZ Holidays were. It was hardly the highlight of my holiday. When she asked me if I remembered speaking to “Claire” and told me “she was probably wearing a green jacket” — the answer had to be no. And as soon as a prospect starts saying no, it’s incredibly difficult to get them to say yes.
- You Have Been Selected: That’s right, they weren’t just calling me from a list — they had actually selected me. I was special. It was as if I’d just won a competition. How lucky was I to be receiving this phone call? What was the prize? Hang on, is this a scam? Didn’t this approach to sales die in 1980s? Aren’t we more sophisticated than that? Evidently not.
- To Buy a “Really Cheap” Holiday (Vacation): I don’t know about you, but I enjoy “good value” when I go on holiday, not being “cheap.” Holidays are incredibly important to me and my family. Because we work so hard throughout the rest of the year, when we go on holiday, we like to occasionally pay that little bit extra to ensure a relaxing and fun time. A cheap holiday might have appealed to me when I was 18, but not now that I’m 44 with two kids in tow. If she hadn’t lost me before, this is where I became completely disengaged and terminated the call.
Everything was wrong with this call. It was cold instead of warm, it made assumptions about me and my family that weren’t true and its entire premise was based on a lie.
I couldn’t help but feel this was an incredibly inefficient approach to selling — one that wasted not only my time but the company’s time (and time is money).
In reality, this kind of sales tactic is more of a fishing exercise than a targeted and strategic approach. I wasn’t the person she wanted to get on the phone. I hate to say it, but she would have preferred someone more “vulnerable.” Even then, you wonder how she ever “selected” my contact details. Surely even the most unscrupulous sales team would want to maximize their efficiencies?
How much is inefficiency in your sales and marketing programs costing your business? If you don’t know, you are almost certainly wasting time and resources and potentially damaging your reputation as a trustworthy, likable organization that people want to spend money with.
This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.