Monday, 12 April 2010

The sales and marketing conversation

The other day I had a very worrying phone call from someone selling electrical services. I have nothing against electrical services, what was worrying was the way the call progressed.

Almost as soon as I answered he launched into a monologue about his company’s services. Not a short monologue, but a long one. He was obviously reading from a script. Although I was sorely tempted to see how long he would continue without pausing for breath, I didn’t have a 30 minute gap in my day. Despite the obviously fascinating topic of electrical appliances (with plugs) and health and safety, I didn’t feel terribly involved in the call. (I think I could have disappeared to make a cup of tea and he wouldn’t have noticed.) So I terminated it as politely, but as quickly, as I could.

After I quickly checked to make sure this is 2010, and not 1970, I got back to what I was doing.

I suppose telemarketing has made a great deal of progress in that such a dreadfully executed call is now the exception. Most people are not so blatant with their total last of interest in me, my company, or my company’s needs. As far as I can remember, the telephone was invented in order for two people to have a conversation. Not for companies to broadcast information to others. Someone should have told him.

Many companies are good at telemarketing, and some are excellent. Some understand that sales and marketing is a conversation which aims to establish a match between what one company can provide, and what another wants. They know that the value in picking up the phone is that you can receive information as well as provide it. On the whole, people respond much better to people who are interested in them and their problems. It doesn’t mean to say the call will end in a sale, a meeting or even a commitment to the next stage, but it does increase the chances.

The best conversations leave both people feeling interested, fulfilled, and eager to continue at some time in the future. It will take me sometime before I can talk to anyone about electrical appliances (with plugs) without laughing. Now, that’s not right, is it?

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