Taking Cold Calls

I’ve worked in a few jobs now where I have had to make cold calls and it is a funny old task that I kind of feel like everyone should experience at least for a few days in their life.

It sounds like hell, ringing a stranger and sparking up a conversation with them, but when it goes right it is amazing how it can feel as the caller, and sometimes the customer appreciates it too.

I’ve had some really weird ones over the years, I tend to treat the rude ones with a bit of mild abuse or absurdity.

If they’re calling me to say they heard I was in an accident I tell them I was, but I died.

If they’re trying to ‘trick’ me into following some steps or succumbing to their hack then I burn as much of their time as possible to try and discourage them from calling back.

I’ve even learned that if you say you’re under 18 they (sometimes – if they’re EU based at least) remove you from their database because it is illegal to cold call kids (apparently).

Sometimes I have bizarre calls – once a fella at BT called me back on a technical issue and whilst we were exchanging information he went on to tell me about how he was actually really sad that day because his girlfriend had left him the night before.

He decided to tell me the story in full, before breaking into tears and putting me on hold for a few minutes, it was all rather insane and my wife was watching me try and offer words of comfort to this random stranger wondering what the heck I was saying to him.

I’ve developed my own sort of approach when I do them where I just try and stick to the point and clarify with the person whether its convenient, relevant and so forth so that I’m not wasting their time or offending them. I sometimes go for a ‘we spoke a long time ago’ approach – often that’s true but sometimes its just a useful way to warm up the conversation if its a business to business call.

What prompted this update was the rather mad call I just had from Sky to offer me a discounted upgrade to Sky Q.

The guy called, asked if he was speaking to Mrs Bass… then kind of shrugged that off as ‘course im not…’ and cracked on.

He jumped right into what he was calling for and what he was going to do, telling me to listen closely and keep going, my first instinct to be honest was argh hang up quick!

But he wasn’t being rude or anything and he qualified who he was by giving me some details that suggested he was from Sky – I obviously wouldn’t volunteer personal information on a call to me so I already felt a bit more comfortable.

His patter was fantastic from there though he was telling a story with how he described the 30 day demo of the main Sky Q box and what it could do.

The smaller add on box he described with a bit of a comedy routine, he’d nicknamed it, he was calling it daring and brave and all these other random words that wouldn’t be used to describe a small TV box.

He was describing how you can move the box from room to room like people used to carry candles round in the old days as they went from reading to eating to bed, all with me watching different TV shows – IT’S LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF HARRY POTTER! he cried at one point.

His Irish accent pulled it off more than my Essex drone ever could, I let him finish then apologised and said I can’t afford it but I complimented his approach (I didn’t do it justice here, it was 100 mph non stop energy and I can’t remember it all) he didn’t even waiver when I was being a bit non responsive to his questions with my short ‘yeah…’ or ‘no’ answers.

We ended up talking about Lincolnshire, where I live – his maths degree in Cork was taught by a professor from Lincoln, who taught them about the man who invented Boolean logic, who was also from Lincoln. We got onto programming, and his company and the tech he works with, (Microsoft Azure) which is something that the company I work for secures.

It was just such an odd and unexpected call to receive on my mobile but because he was confident, honest and clear with his reason for calling and he adapted with the flow of the call it worked wonders.

I had another call last week where the person just said:

[NAME] Please…
I said “Whose calling?”
[Their Name]
“Where are you calling from?}
“What is the call regarding?”

It was like talking to a robot, it was painful and in the end I told him I wouldn’t be putting him through and he needed to work on his approach because he was rude and frustrating to deal with.

I hung up and he called back exasperated.

“What do you mean I was rude?!”

“Well, I answered ‘good morning you’re through to [company], Richard speaking, how can I help?’ and you responded with [Name] Please.

You said Please, but bloody hell…when I asked who you were and what you wanted you gave nothing, you just barked at me.

If I stuck someone like that through to my boss they’d be outraged that we were both wasting their time, either tell me why you need to speak to them straight away or don’t bother.

Deceiving or forcing your way through isn’t going to convince anyone to work with you…”

He kind of sat in silence before apologising and accepting what I was saying.

I can’t believe anyone thinks they can trick their way into a good call, I worked with someone who used to do this, pretend he was calling from a different company or about something else and it never works, it just betrays confidence.

I kind of hope I get another call from that fella at some point to see whether he does anything differently or whether he just barks at me again like a fool.

I’ve added the fella from Sky on LinkedIn, its worth knowing someone who can turn something as mundane as a cold call about TV deals into an interesting conversation.

Though he has made me feel like I need to work on my phone skills a lot more now!

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