How Do We Kill The Cold Call Killers?

As someone who has trained numerous professional sellers and corporate sales teams in effectiveness and efficiency, cold call prospecting almost always comes up as a topic one way or another–even if it is just to hear people dismiss it outright. Knowing how hard a job selling is I have also tried to have empathy when a sales person or a professional fundraiser calls me.  I will be respectful of an honest effort and polite as I likely decline.

Lately, however, I have had frustration with outrageously egregious cold calling techniques boil over to outright anger! It’s bad enough to experience these sales-botching exploits as personal time wasters or intelligence insults that are more scam than selling, the real tragedy here is that a relative few companies and techniques are all but killing off the cold calling channel to extinction for honest sellers.

Granted B to B cold calling is slightly different  in dynamic than B to C but we all carry our home experiences to the office and worse, the same ill conceived cheap volume strategies hoisted on America’s dinner tables are now showing up on our office phones, and even the last bastion of sales free zones–our cell phones.

Now I’m cautious to be critical of strategies that work, because the definition of “work” is so flexible and companies ask me to help drive results (it’s my job to see if their moral definitions work with mine). Today’s callers are not looking at call economics as they did in the past. Still, I’d like to point out the the blood boilers that I believe we can directly thank for killing what was always a difficult but with skill, a viable, sales channel. Robocalling computer lead generators, a guy with an obvious Indian accent telling me his name is “Bob,” bogus surveys where the right answers lead to pitches and ignoring the national Do Not Call Registry.

By far the company that I’d like to have a national boycott of, or have every honest sales person rip the the phones and computers from their headquarters is “Cardholder Services.” Despite mounds of negative publicity for their actual credit services being what equates to a scam, and clearly hollow threats by the FTC to “crack down” I am still getting unending robocalls from this disgrace of a company (companies)?

The use of robocalling has obvious scale, a computer is calling with a promise to reduce your credit card debt and putting you in a cue to speak to a representative. Okay, a pitch is a pitch, but for this one there is no way out. No matter how many times you reject, hang up or even get through to a rep the calls won’t stop. If you complain to a person you get connected to they either hang up on you or give you a bogus pacification that you’ll be “off the list.”  I have had literally hundreds of calls from them in the past 2 years. Hundreds!!  Guess they don’t do analytics. Several times I will even get a second robo-hounding on the same day as when I got to a human to beg them to end the madness!  I think someone is having a sadistic laugh fest somewhere and it makes me want to rally the villagers with torches and pitch forks and head to their front door!

With caller id there was once upon a time at least a fighting chance to identify who was on the other end and though that could be an opportunity killer for honest efforts it led to the “spoof” as a sales countermeasure. That meant that no id could be given, an erroneous name, or (effectively) thanks to internet calling area code spoofing can show you as a local guy regardless of what off shore island you may be having your $1 an hour callers making calls from.  It seems that when honest sellers try to get an even break the calling whores sully the field and install certain mistrust. They make the numbers worse by their use and then employ more of the same to counter since the economics have little cost to scale.

The national “Do Not Call” registries are a joke. Perhaps that’s unfair because maybe I have blocked dozens of potential calls from honorable marketers but so many ignore it that again it makes the idea of even answering the phone something to avoid unless it is a known contact.

A “Google Search” company uses similar techniques. My company phone has been called a dozen times with a message that I haven’t registered my company location (which I did long ago), they let you think they might be Google (wow, Google is calling little old me?!) and claim with a robomessage that a representative can help my SEO. This lie to lead off a prospect is an insult and by using the same annoying techniques have helped all but kill my last pleadings to sales people that cold calls can work.

For years we’ve been teaching “warm call” techniques as a counter and, of course, using social media and emailing to replace the cold techniques but I just get so mad….OMG! While writing this I honestly just got a call from Carmen from “Cardholder Services” and she warned this was “my last chance to reduce my credit card bills.” I was caller 21 but got a representative in under a minute and as I told her the irony of writing a post condemning her company with a cheery bit of cheek…she hung up on me.

Get the pitchforks!  Light the torches!! We are taking CARDHOLDER SERVICES down!!!  Until tomorrow, when they call with another last chance…aghhhh.

Tom Fox