What To Do After A £10m Fine For Cold-Calling

…stop cold calling.

Their doorstep script was quite something. The Daily Mail revealed it in April.

This is so old school – that is, bad school. If your script sounds like this, you simply have to change it. Pronto.

UK Consumer champions Which? are running a campaign to rid the country of cold calls at home.

Two major energy firms this week decided to end the practice.

One of the chief exec’s started explaining why with this;

“Nobody likes receiving a sales call out of the blue and so we are stopping it”

His was the company fined that ten million. For mis-selling. In future, only existing customers and prospects giving consent beforehand will be telephoned.

Unsolicited calls at home are evidently most unwelcome.

What about at work?

If for no other reason than so many people themselves earn a living from places where someone must ‘sell’, it seems slightly more tolerated.

Yet there’s a key phrase here, isn’t there; “…out of the blue“.

Anything you can do which avoids this must be pursued.

I remember fondly one cold call day twenty years ago. Moving line by line down a huge pile of Z-fold style computer printer paper, with those perforated edges, holes down the sides and thin green lines across, one ‘victim’ was happy to hear from us;

That’s incredible you phone now…I was just thinking about this very thing…How did you get my name?

He didn’t believe the answer; ‘I’m just working down a long computer printout and yours was the next name on the list…!

Appointment booked.

But maybe this is a red-herring.

Could the ‘blueness’ be a dismissive catch-all?

Taking a leaf out of the energy sector, there’s the whole ‘permission marketing’ approach.

(I’m reminded of marketing 2.0 guru Seth Godin, involved in Yoyodyne, the first email list full of names that allowed such messages to arrive, sold for a mouth watering $30m in 1998.)

Furthermore, despite the existence of huge marketing departments across the blue-chip b2b firms I’ve worked with over the past decade, the vast majority of salespeople must self-generate their funnel. And if not in its entirety, then certainly to ensure a quota is at least met.

Let’s take some more words from that earlier chief exec;

“We want to be a company that sells itself, one that is recognised for being the best in its sector and one that people choose to buy from.”

I bang on about this a lot. Each time I run a cheeky cold-call workshop (my preferred intro into the new world is a two-hour session) the toughest mindset shift for the sellers is to move from telling prospects why they are ‘best in sector’, to talking solely about the problems they may be experiencing (without calling them problems). When they get it, it’s a wonderful moment. Conversation lifts their mood immeasurably.

I shudder at how many salespeople still view canvassing as a numbers game alone, when there is nowadays such a better way….

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