Thursday, October 08, 2009

Still with the Cold Calling? Really?

I'm baffled that this actually works, but it must, because there are so many companies doing it. I realize this is the third time in as many years that I've written about this, but it is endlessly frustrating yet amusing in a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" sort of way.

For those unfamiliar with the principle, get this. People will actually call up out of the blue, ask to speak to "the IT department", and announce quickly that "they're not selling anything" (because that would be unspeakable!), but rather, they're collecting answers on topic X, Y, or Z for some anonymous cabal of vendors too inept to figure out what the market wants or needs.

Our favorite response is to let the caller know that we have corporate rules restricting us from answering survey questions. Plausible deniability. Sometimes it gets you off of the list for good, sometimes not, but it always makes for a short call.

Just as baffling are the people that survey callers look down upon - the cold calling salesperson. Literally phone a company at random, as for someone, and try to convince them that they should give you the time of day (much less start spending money with you) in the span of about 15 seconds.

Who are the people that keep feeding the birds? Don't feed the birds. Didn't your parents teach you anything? You feed the birds, and more and more show up, and it ruins things for everybody. Don't feed the birds. Do NOT respond to cold callers.

Here's how conversations go for me with these people lately.

The long form:

(phone rings)
ZM: "Zen Master here."
CC: "Hi, can I speak to the person in charge of purchasing decisions for X?" (usually toner or backup tapes or cell phone accessories or something else stupid)
ZM: "That's me, what can we do for you?"
CC: "I'm with Bob's Pretty Good company, have you heard of us?"
ZM: "No."
CC: "Well I'd like to see if we can get on your schedule to talk about all the ways we can save your company money and make everyone more efficient and clear up bad complexions and cure swine flu...what does your calendar look like?"
ZM: "We're all set on that front, but I appreciate the call."
CC: "So what do you use for swine flu and bad complexions?"
ZM: "I'm not inclined to reveal that to you." (click)

The short form:

(phone rings)
ZM: "This is the Zen master."
CC: "Hi Zen master, I'm with Radioactive Toner company and wanted to see if you had any upcoming projects, you know, involving toner, that we might be able to help with."
ZM: "We're all set on toner, but thanks for the call." (click)

This one is interesting too, ever since we became EA customers, people are presenting themselves as being with Microsoft. A particularly sneaky tactic, MS will actually badge channel partners as employees, so they can 'legitimately' say they are with Microsoft. I have nothing but loathing for this form of deceit. I am shocked, SHOCKED, that my influential blog has not put a stop to this practice once and for all.

The liar:

(phone rings)
ZM: "Zen master here."
CC: "Is this the Zen master?"
ZM: "Yes, who is this?"
CC: "I'm Bob calling on behalf of Microsoft."
ZM: "Who are you with?"
CC: "Microsoft?"
ZM: "You aren't on my list of account representatives."
CC: "Well I'm calling on behalf of Microsoft."
ZM: "That's why I asked who you work for."
CC: "Oh, I'm with (some company nobody ever heard of)."
ZM: "Okay, thank you." (click)

One guy recently never came clean, and I knew it, but acted like I didn't. Genuine account reps know everything about us...if someone calling doesn't, they are not with Microsoft.

Perhaps one of you will know what website I can go to in order to get a rebate on all the time I waste with these people. If not, hopefully you get a little satisfaction knowing you're not alone (or that your job could be a lot worse).