Cold Calling

I do it sometimes.  I actually enjoy door-knocking with advertising for church events or just the offer to talk about spiritual things.  I’ve often been surprised at how little opposition I’ve encountered.  Sure, plenty people don’t want to talk, but usually they say, “No thank you,” quite politely, at which I smile, thank them for their time and move on. 

Which is why I try not to be unpleasant to people who call me on the phone or come to my door trying to sell me things I don’t want.  I suppose they have to make a living somehow – but who trains these people?  Is there a special school which teaches them how to get under the skin of mild-mannered, grace-inclined people such as I in the quickest time possible?

Last week I ignored a postal invitation to take out an extended warranty on our washer-dryer, which must be a whole year old now.  Today I was rung by a man from the appliance company who asked me how I find the machine.  I replied that I walk into my kitchen and there it is.  I know, I know – I couldn’t resist it.  I did immediately repent, tell him the machine was fine and I did not want an extended warranty (not that he had yet offered me one, but it was clear which way the thing was going). Ignoring the obvious hint, he asked me something else, at which I had to inform him that I also didn’t want an extended conversation.  There is seldom a polite way to end these things.

So here is my advice for cold callers, whether you be salespeople or door-to-door evangelists (ok, especially the evangelists; I care more about you).

  • Introduce yourself immediately.  
  • Be upfront about what you want or what you are offering
  • Be honest and real
  • Be prepared for objections and take them seriously
  • Accept refusal graciously

Well, I’ll never sell much double glazing, but I have had the joy of quite a lot of good conversation with people on their doorsteps, when they have time and inclination to talk to someone who isn’t trying to rip them off.  We’re not, are we?

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4 Responses to Cold Calling

  1. I’m afraid I’m not quite so patient with cold-callers. I’m never outright offensive, but if they don’t ‘fess up straight away to their identity, I ask who’s speaking, and as soon as they identify themselves as being from this or that wireless company (or whatever), I say rather curtly, “Not interested, thanks,” and I hang up before they can reply.

    Ironically, my partner, who is generally much less patient with people than I am, is much nicer to telemarketers, precisely for the reason you stated–he figures they’re just ordinary people who have to make a living somehow, and he imagines what it’s like to be in their shoes.

    • Alison says:

      oh Dave, don’t let me leave the impression that I’m always downright pleasant. What winds me up most is when their first contact is a question rather than an introduction – I want them to be upfront about who they are, before I decide whether I want them to know how I am. I do find myself often cutting across their pitch in exactly the way you describe. Then I (try to) remember they are only human. But don’t always succeed.

  2. Helen P says:

    I’m arriving here rather late in the day as I’ve been neglecting my google reader dreadfully this past week or two!

    What an excellent post! As I have learned assertiveness (and it has taken me years, before which I would be caught on the doorstep for ages trying not to offend whoever it was by turning down whatever they were trying to sell me), I’ve become far better at refusing their services! I just say a very firm ‘no I’m not interested thank you’, with a big smile, and begin closing the door as I’m saying it. So far nobody has been unpleasant back!

    A month or two ago I had someone come to the door and from the little card around their neck I believe they were from a power company. He began by saying very enthusiastically ‘Hello, are you all right?’ to which I replied ‘Yes thank you – and No thank you!’ as he began to lift his clipboard in anticipation! I then closed the door and heard him saying ‘okay, thank you…’ as I did!

    • Alison says:

      That is one of my least favourite ways of their beginning the pitch. Being an honest soul, I am inclined to want to consider whether I am all right or not: perhaps I am slightly less right than I was 5 minutes ago; it’s a lovely day so that’s a positive, but my coffee is getting cold and I’m already starting to become impatient. Perhaps I should consider for a while – they really want to know exactly how all right I am, after all.

      In a crabby mood I have been known to answer, “What’s it to you?” Either way they are guaranteed not to get my custom.

      All right?

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