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To call or not to call?


You can’t just call anymore. That’s too bad.

The government passed a law giving Americans the opportunity to place their names on a “Do Not Call” list. And guess what? Millions of people put their names on the list as fast as they could.

Gee, I wonder why? And are businesses saying, “Hey, there’s a new law; let’s respect it.” Oh, no. It’s more like, “How can I get around it?”

So offshore telemarketing firms will spring up, new charities will be formed, and companies will sell the names of people who have purchased from them and are not on the “Do Not Call” list. Companies will include a “May we call you?” box on their Web sites, but will make the customers contact them if they don’t want to be called. Right?


The list stems from 50 years of phone sales abuse. Telemarketers call to raise money. Con artists call to scam people. If salespeople hadn’t abused cold calling, this list would not be necessary. The sad fact is that it was mandated by congress.

Take a closer look. The “Do Not Call” list is a message telling you that people don’t want to be bothered by an unsolicited phone call.

The other day my phone company (cold) called me. “This is a courtesy call,” the sales rep said.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “I’ve been doing business with the phone company for 40 years. A courtesy call from the phone company is an oxymoron. Courtesy would imply that you have manners. This is a sales call isn’t it?”

“Yes,” the sales rep replied.

“Do me a favor,” I said. “Don’t interrupt me anymore.” I hung up.

For the record, I am courteous to most salespeople who call me. But when someone starts the call with a lie or a misleading statement, I hang up.

I am certain the phone company will make sales using that method. How many customers will they annoy or anger? That is the question. The answer is they’ll probably annoy or anger 99 out of 100 customers. So why do it? They don’t care. They should.

Companies that rely on cold calls have an opportunity to develop a better strategy.

Why are you looking to get around the law, when you know the law was passed because cold calling wasn’t working for the customer? I’m certain someone reading this will send me an e-mail telling me how successful he has been making cold calls. Save your bandwidth. A real good salesperson converts two-maybe three out of 100 cold calls-but angers 98.

Let’s look at one alternative: The referral. You have thousands of existing customers who love you and will immediately get on the phone when you call. These customers have businesses right next door to yours or know others in the same industry. They know the people you are not serving.

Why not ask your best customers to arrange three-way meetings at a local breakfast or lunch spot. If you want to increase your percentage of market share, you will have to bring someone for your customer, making it a foursome for breakfast or lunch. The end result will be a loyal customer and a sale.

Rather than figuring out how to get around the law, you could begin to build a one-year networking plan to get face-to-face with your customers and prospects. Or you could design and implement a value-driven weekly, biweekly, or monthly electronic newsletter. It puts you in touch with your customers, and when it provides value it will be forwarded to others in your market. They will call you.

Doesn’t it make more sense to spend time planning how to please, grow value and build and wow your customers, rather than planning how to make customers mad? It’s hello or goodbye. The choice is yours.

Free GitBit: If you would like to sample “Sales Caffeine,” a free weekly e-zine for salespeople that serves as an example of a value-driven message rather than a sales message, go to www.gitomer.com. Register if you’re a first-time user, and enter EZINE in the GitBit Box.

President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, Jeffrey Gitomer gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.  

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