Sorry, Right Number — Wrong Impression

 -  7/1/08

I picked up the phone on the second ring. I realized my mistake as soon as the voice on the line launched into a typical sales prospecting script.

I picked up the phone on the second ring. I realized my mistake as soon as the voice on the line launched into a typical sales prospecting script.

“Hello Kevin Wilde, my name is Joe. You don’t know me, but I was referred to you. You are the person in charge of learning, right? I’m a vendor in the learning space, and I would like to spend time with you now to probe your company’s talent development needs and tell you about my company’s solutions.”

Well, I would like to slam the phone down right now and escape this dreaded cold call. Instead, I listen politely. A friend handles similar calls in a brisk, businesslike manner:

“I am not sourcing these services right now. If you’d like to send me material on your firm, I would be happy to keep it on file. That way, when I am ready to talk, I have your information as a reference. In the meantime, I’m sure you agree that your time is valuable and so is mine. Continuing the conversation right now isn’t a good use of our time. Thank you. Goodbye!”

The Wrong Introduction

I wish I had that efficiency. Because while I value consultants and vendors in talent development and have had many important external partnerships over the years, a cold call is a terrible way to make a positive introduction.

Going directly to the CEO isn’t much better. The big boss will route the solicitor to me. When I make the follow-up call, I’ll listen, but inside I’ll stew about the vendor’s assumption I’ll be more motivated to buy now that they’ve gone over my head.

It’s also discouraging when the caller hasn’t done his homework. Sometimes I know this when playfully asking what he had for breakfast. (Hint: I work for a branded food company, so a bowl of Cheerios is a good answer.) In the Google era, it’s not hard to learn about a company’s talent strategy or the person charged with talent development.

Finally, know my interests. Whether it’s a formal pitch or an elevator-speech encounter, try to mention something about that executive’s business or interests first. Then succinctly state how the vendor solution will help.

Article Keywords:   measurement   metrics   performance management   technology  


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