The Painful Truth
Everywhere you go, in or outside of the tech bubble, you can find thousands of individuals who make cold calls for a living. It might not be obvious, but I know for a fact that my friends who are Insurers, Mortgage Lenders, Realtors and Solar salesmen hammer the phones daily. In the tech industry, we like to think we have it tough selling to CIOs and VPs, but these guys are calling consumers, not business leaders that can entertain the value of our offer with a lot less of an emotional response. These “dialers” are pounding the phones harder than us, with fewer tools and more hate … a lot more hate … Consumers hate cold calls so much that “dialers” expect a 20-30% hangup ratio from a cold, opt-in list.
It’s safe to say the world has a distaste and general loathing for Telemarketers. People equate it to the words, “Used car salesmen”. (Full confession- I’ve both sold cars and I’ve made more than my share of cold calls). Telemarketers know this, so they’ve re-branded themselves. If you look for telemarketing jobs on LinkedIn you’ll see Prospecting, Call Canvassing, Dialing and Lead Development as evidence of re-branding. Good try, but it doesn’t matter. To everyone you cold call, you’re a telemarketer. Internally, a different title might help your self-esteem, but as a lot of reps discover, you’re cold calling people to sell them something over the phone … Which happens to be the definition of Telemarketing.
It’s ok, take a breath. No wonder sales burnout is an issue in our industry. Of course, you can still use the re-branded terms when your friends ask what you do. “I’m a Dialer; Prospector; or SDR.”
One great thing about the re-branding is that, just like your title, you can change the approach that gave telemarketing a bad name in the first place.
Manipulation and Control
Welcome to reality; you are what you hate…. Freudian isn’t it? (Next, I’m going to tell you you’re going to marry someone like your mom or dad…) One major misconception is that this job is “bad,” but the truth is that a lot of the people who do this job are bad at it, their managers are bad at it, and their system is driven by Manipulation and Control. Part of the problem is that no one wants to stick around long enough to fix the problems. Either you try to move up the ladder before the job sucks you dry or you quit before your soul completely melts away. Systems driven by manipulation and control damage a lot of companies’ reputations and the ones that aren’t are underperforming because they’re too soft. The good news is that there is a huge opportunity for sales teams and reps who can crack this code.
Car salesmen have it the worst. People may willfully choose to step foot on a car lot, but they do so with the belief that the sales person is a lying POS that will rake them over the coals to get a commission. As a consumer, I’m sure that you’ve more than once moaned under your breath and prepared for the most awkward customer experience possible as they ushered you around the lot. Consumers believe that car salesmen are guilty until proven innocent.
That’s not the case with Telemarketing, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Think about it … someone answers the phone (still innocent here) you ramble off an obvious script at them and you’re guilty. People think they hate telemarketing but the truth is they hate how they’ve been telemarketed to. Their Experiences Influence Their Perception. Abraham Lincoln said it best when he paraphrased an old proverb,
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Now being silent on a sales call is obviously a bad idea, but changing your message so you don’t subliminally scream, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU”, would be a great place to start.
How to Not Scream, “I’M A TELEMARKETER”
Here are a few ideas that can help you pull that off.
Authentic is more than a word to me, it’s a central core value. Another quote from President Lincoln,
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
So what does authentic cold calling look or sound like? Great question. Authenticity requires being trustworthy and genuine, being genuine requires vulnerability.
This means stop trying to trick people, stop lying, stop controlling and stop manipulating. Whether your meeting in person, on the phone or online, be honest and treat people with respect. Quickly trying to get your pitch across before they realize what you’re doing is a bad idea, no matter your industry.
Figure out a new way to get to your pitch, one that’s authentic, honest and genuine. Awesome personal relationships are built on this and it’s bread and butter for great business relationships too.
Come to the table with something that’s unique. If it’s a local call, have something local to talk about. For calls that are out of your area try to sort your list by factors that group people together in ways that make having insights easier.
For B2B sales you need to be on LinkedIn. If they have an active profile, you need to be active with them on LinkedIn. Engage with insights and information that is valuable to their online persona. Use it in your calls, emails and InMail messages. One great perk of my current job is the automation of a lot of my social media tasks. It speeds up this process a ton.
Ask For Help Outside Your Circle
The older I get the more I realize I need help and the best people to ask for help generally aren’t the ones who are emotionally invested in fixing my problems. In business, it’s the same way. Ask friends from other companies, verticals, and industries for help. Learn best practices from people that have different experiences from you, chances are you’ll learn something.
Telemarketing (or whatever you choose to call it) isn’t a bad job, it’s actually a great job. Yes, it’s hard and can be emotionally taxing but it pays well and has value, especially if you’re main goal is to enhance the lives and businesses that you speak with. The best way to do this is to find a delivery method that matches your main goal, to help. Don’t mix your medicine with poison. Don’t mix help and manipulation.