Marketing? Do your homework

23May10

Some boy telephoned

…and he’s wishing he hadn’t.

The phone rang. I answered.

Me: Hello, Marian Dougan speaking.
Caller (male): Hello, can I speak to the Managing Director?
Me: Who’s calling, please?
Caller: I’d like to speak to the Managing Director.
Me: Yes, but who’s calling?
Caller: It’s a business call, I’d like to speak to the Managing Director. Is he in?
Me: …………[= frosty silence]. I am the Managing Director. Can I help you?
Caller: …………[= oh, s**t, I’ve blown it]. I’m phoning to see if you’d be interested in corporate hospitality. At the Stuffy Old Buffers Golf Club.
Me: Thank you so much but I don’t think we’d be interested. Good-bye.
Caller: Mumble, mumble. Click.

If I’d had more time, instead of being busy running a business, I’d have given this inept individual some tips on how to do a sales/marketing call. I realise that this will be preaching to the converted, but just in case…

Doing your homework

  • Do your homework.
  • What size of business are you dealing with?
  • Who are the key people?
  • What are their names? Use them.
  • Don’t assume that you need to speak to the managing director (MD). If it’s a small business, that may be the case. But for bigger companies you might be better speaking to the marketing manager, international/external relations office, or the MD’s personal assistant (PA). (PAs and other “gatekeepers” often have a lot of influence in big organisations. They’re worth cultivating).
  • Is the business likely to need the service or product you’re offering? If not, don’t waste your and their time. Or else tweak your product to suit them.

Making the call

  • Introduce yourself. Immediately. Don’t wait to be asked. And if you do have to be asked, answer immediately. You’re the one that’s intruding on someone else’s time.
  • Ask if it’s a good time to speak. You’re interrupting someone and you’ve no idea how busy they are or how urgent their immediate task is.
  • Explain what you’re selling, framing your pitch as appealingly as you can. Suggest an appointment to discuss further.
  • Do – NOT – for – one – second – assume – that – the – Managing – Director – is – a – man.

Illustration courtesy of Lobstar 28.

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7 Responses to “Marketing? Do your homework”

  1. 1 Alan Palmer

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. No-one in business would normally put through a call to a colleague, senior or junior, without first asking who was calling. Surely the caller must have come across this?

  2. Another thing that bugs me: when I tell them I’m not interested and they continue to try and convince me of the benefits of whatever it is they are trying to sell me.

    • I know. You try to be polite – they’re only doing their job, after all – but all too often they just don’t know when to give up gracefully.

  3. 5 vito

    come e’ vero! dovrebbe essere una questione di buona educazione prima di tutto e poi di professionalita’ con un minimo di “common sense ” ma, troppo spesso purtroppo, non e’ cosi.

  4. 6 Heather

    I have no time for callers whose sales tactic is to take the position that they know better than I do what my business needs. How dare anyone presume to tell me where my business is lacking when they don’t know the basic fact that I am all the departments they have been asking to speak with.

    • Yes – they take up your time without doing the minimum preparation to find out who they’re actually speaking to. And it’s so easy to do the research – haven’t they heard of the Internet?


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