Yesterday, friend Amber Recker tweeted, “I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think I should feel this awful after a sales call.” No, you shouldn’t. I called Amber, asked questions about her experience, and requested permission to write this post.
For two months, Amber said she took several telemarketing calls from a company. The initial call was presented as if it were a follow-up to an inquiry from by Amber. Not wanting to be impolite, and being uncertain whether she had initiated the correspondence, she took the call. After listening to “the pitch” she realized she hadn’t contacted this company and politely ended the call. They called back, and back, and back. After two months of calls, Amber agreed to a 20-minute sales call – if, for no other reason, to end the calls.
The representative began with, “Do you have 20-30 minutes for my call?” The call was one hour and 30 minutes. The first 20 minutes were questions about Amber’s knowledge and use of digital marketing and PR. It’s commendable to ask a prospective client about their needs, but this didn’t seem to be the case. Amber said she was treated as if she was ignorant and the questions were presumptive, condescending, and belittling. The questions were more about selling their one size fits all product. For example, the rep pitched the value of sheer numbers of friends and followers who would be gained by using their services. Amber expressed the quality of connections was more important to her and her organization. She was pretty much told she was wrong.
The call ended with the rep asking what her marketing budget was. She explained as a good steward of the NFP funds, she didn’t have a budget, but did bring suggestions to her committee. He then asked her, “If your budget is zero, why am I talking to you?” Excuse me? From what Amber shared, after she was hounded for a meeting, continuously insulted, then gave an 1.5 hours of her time (instead of 30min), he asked this???
I asked Amber what she would do differently
- Refuse further calls if determined she hadn’t made the initial contact
- Not scheduled the sales call
- If considered legitimate, set a time limit on the sales call
Is it rude to politely follow these guidelines? If salespeople and organizations using questionable sales tactics are allowed to get away with it — they’ll keep doing it. Just say NO.