I receive a fair few phone calls from people wanting to sell the Liberal Democrats the latest / newest / best technology. So I thought I’d share some tips on how to ring me. Alas, all of these are based on actual events. The worst sales call I can recall managed six of these in one nine minute call of pure joy.
1. If you’re ringing an organisation, it’s a good idea to get its name right. And no, I don’t work for “The Democratic Party”. (If you’ve got any doubts on the importance of this, try ringing M+S to sell something to “Marks and Lewis”.)
2. If you think your service or product would be useful for our party leader, that would be great. But he’s not called “Gordon Brown”. Really.
3. It’s not a good idea to claim you are the only person who can provide X when I’ve already been getting X from another firm for five years.
4. If you’re promoting the virtues of high-quality, personalised communications, it’s probably a good idea to have found out my name before getting in touch. Otherwise it seems a mite, shall we say… discordant.
5. If you’re going to send me a letter promoting the virtues of database cleaning services, it’s not a good idea if the name, job title and address are all wrong. Every time. (The first time I thought this might be a clever piece of direct mail – ‘Isn’t it annoying when people get your name and address wrong? Well now you can get your data checked by us…’ – but no, it was just an error).
6. If you’re making a sales call, it’s a good idea to have an answer to my question, “So what is it that you do that I can’t get from other firms?”
7. Or even “So what is it you do?”
8. Or “So who are you?”. It’s ok, you don’t have to give your inside leg measurement in reply, but no name, no firm, no address does come over a little odd.
9. If I ask “Is this a sales call?”, if you say “no” and then launch into a sales pitch, I’ll probably notice.
10. If I ask you the colour of the carpet in your office, it’s best to tell me. (You do know why I ask, don’t you?)
11. If I ask, “How much is it going to cost?”, I’m not looking for an answer that skips most of the costs.
12. I prefer it if, when you make a call, you have a pen, computer or clerk with amazing memory to hand so that if I give you a piece of information you don’t have to put me on hold for six minutes listening to Chris De Burgh whilst you try to record it somewhere. (Put me on hold listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival though, and you might have a chance.)
13. If you’ve never run an election campaign, aren’t sure what day elections take place and don’t know how long it is between general elections, you may find you don’t persuade me that you know all about how to win the next election and that I should junk everything I’ve learnt.
14. Opposites don’t always attract. Telling me how much you hate politics may not be a wise move.
And with that, my voicemail awaits.