My job, IT Director, is a cold call magnet. Generally 9 voice mail messages out of 10 are cold calls from someone I’ve never done business with, who’d like “just a few minutes of your time” to tell me about their wonderful products and services and to quiz me about our upcoming initiatives. My phone rings many times a day, but I don’t answer it if I don’t recognize the number. When I review my voice mail, I delete a message as soon as I recognize it’s a cold call. You’ve already taken a few minutes of my time by making me wade through voice mail that’s 90% useless to me.
I did a Google search for inspiration on a voice mail greeting that would discourage cold callers without discouraging the welcome callers. My concern is that any greeting that says that some messages are unwelcome would discourage those I really want to hear from.
I didn’t have any luck with the intended search results, not that I expected any, but I ran across a site that offered 10 Ways to Persuade Someone to Take Your Cold Call. I read through it and mostly shuddered. This is what they’re telling cold callers to try? Yeesh. Let’s review…
“Name dropping.” Um, no – not unless it’s a real referral. It’s not a real referral if you cold-call Jane Doe, and she gives you my name. Pretending she has endorsed your call just about guarantees I won’t want to do business with you. It’s a real referral if Jane Doe tells me she recommends you.
“Offer information of value.” Nice idea, but I’ve never once heard a cold caller offer me information of value. You have no experience with me, so you wouldn’t know what would be of value to me anyway. Telling me you’re running a special or that you’ll be in the area isn’t of value.
“Phone ahead.” Darn tootin’, you’re wasting your time if you show up unannounced, but cold calling ahead of time isn’t going to get you a meeting either.
“Make them smile.” No, don’t. It’s a cold call, so by definition, you don’t know me. You don’t know what I’d find amusing. The moment I realize your attempt at humor was just a ploy to trick me into listening to a cold call, I won’t want to do business with you.
“Ask for information.” No, sorry, I’m not going to do your homework for you, and I’m not going to start sharing details about our IT environment with a total stranger. Ever hear of social engineering attacks?
“No selling today.” Fine. I agree. You’re not selling me anything today.
“Know your client.” Good advice. Many cold callers fail to do this. This is one of the two listed suggestions that don’t make me shudder. If you know nothing about us, I’ll have no patience for you. If you’re a well-informed cold caller, just maybe I’ll think you weren’t so bad. I can think of only one time in the past year or so when a well-informed cold caller had me thinking he was worth keeping in mind. We’re still not his customer, but if I’m in a market for his product, I’ll be willing to contact him.
“Peak their interest.” Okay, the word you want is pique (as in “Brightly colored objects pique a baby’s interest”). You could say, however, that my interest in your company did in fact peak in the first second or two, and then it was downhill from there. Anyway, how would you know what’s of interest to me, if you’ve never met me? In any case, an attempt to pique my interest with “Did you know” material could wind up looking like another ploy, which means you’ve annoyed me and wasted my time. I won’t want to do business with you.
“I’ll be back.” Oh great, threaten to keep calling until I return your call. Make it a contest of wills. That’ll win my business every time. There was one time this method got me to return a call, because the cold caller was leaving voice mail once or twice a day every day for a few weeks, letting me know he’d call again later. I was getting so annoyed I finally called him back. Do you think I called him back because I wanted to be his customer?
“Email introduction.” Now you’re talking. If you’ve got a good business relationship with someone whose recommendation I trust, and that person recommends you, I’m willing to consider you – when we need your products and services. However, if Jane Doe forwards an email saying “Got this out of the blue, passing it along in case you’re interested,” I don’t consider that an actual introduction.
Cold callers apparently use a mosquito larvae strategy: Crank ’em out by the zillions, and if a few survive to adulthood, that’s success. I understand that, but it means I have a pest control problem.
My advice to cold callers: Don’t call me. Do your homework about what kind of organization we are. Send me an email that gets to the point of what you’re offering that’s relevant, and tell me where I can get more info. If I need your stuff, I’ll consider you. Done.