Telephone Sale

“You are looking for an IS/IT manager?” I have asked this ominous question a zillion times and the unsuspecting answer is always ‘yes?’. Then I finish the conversation with ” I’m sorry but he  is in our  IT-service company IT Help,  I do not know his name but please call our switchboard and ask for the manager of IT help . ThankyouandGoodbye.”

These days I am no longer responsible for IT and I can just hand salesmen over to others.

When I was IT manager I got lots of calls from telephone salesmen. On a bad day it could be more than 15 calls on a good day about five calls. To survive you got to find a strategy to limit both the number of calls and the time of each call. These salesmen are doing an honest (and very hard) work and deserves to be treated with respect.  Nevertheless you have to cut him/her short to be able to do your work.  These calls are especially annoying when you are in the middle of a ‘debugging session’ or some kind of thought process that demands thinking in many layers or structures, since it takes you time to go to the bottom. Being disturbed in the middle may force you to start all over again. Why didn’t I just turned off the telephone? I wanted to be a modern open ‘always online manager’ so I very seldom switched off my telephone.

When these calls started to become a nuisance, I developed a web-app for these salesmen where they could leave a message and I could called them up if I was interested. Then I talked with our switchboard staff asking them to instruct the sales guys to go to the web-app. But the switchboard guys could not do this, that would be all too time consuming. Then I asked for a special IT-manager sales telephone-number with an automatic reply instructing callers how to use my sales web-app. But that was against company policy! I then decided I should end these calls in less than two minutes. This is in fact harder than it sounds, a telephone salesman is a specialist of keeping a conversation going. It is very much a question of taking the initiative before the opponent have a chance to start his sales pitch. You must tell the opponent what to do.  Interrupt the guy when he has introduced himself, and tell him what he has to offer is not relevant for you and tell him to call the next one on his list. (You know what he/she want to offer after the first introduction.)  Remember to be polite, (it can be hard when the 15th guy call on a busy day).  It can also be someone searching for a job, they can be hard to spot after the first introduction they are also in a selling position. These guys not only deserves respect they also deserves some of your precious time.

Why does these salesmen deserves your respect in the first place? At least in my country, Sweden, we have traditionally a mild contempt for sales in general.  And I suffered from the same mild contempt for sales guys until I worked with pre- and post-sales support,  I then realized how hard and frustrating sales jobs actually are. Without a good sales-force a company is not worth a cent. Without the sales guys,  you and I would not have a job. Actually everyone deserves respect. Well almost, there are some real ...        

I wrote this post after yet another of these calls and I feel like a grumpy old man.

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