I love telecallers. Just love them. They are artists of a different hue, scientists of a different science, peddlers of the ultimate kind. Just love them.
I can always tell by the number when a spammer calls. You know how? I have TrueCaller ?But I still pick calls from Spammers. Every day. Why? Just.
There are all kinds and types of TeleSpammers. Long, Short, and Instant. The Instant Pitch ones launch into it the moment you pick up. The Short Pitch callers are like the 100-metres dash specialists – they run out of ideas after 3 questions or 60 seconds whichever comes first. The Long Pitchers are artists- they use a meaningful headline, construct a conversation, have loads of information.
Then there is the classification by Personality Type: Hesitant, King of Cool, Star, Hostage, and Professional callers.
I have sympathy for the Hesitant ones – they are never sure of themselves or their pitch or their answers. The Professionals are efficient, smart, articulate and shrug off all outcomes. The Hostage are the ones who don’t want to be calling you but they have to: “It’s a job, no sir?” “My boss forced me to call you.” “I have to meet my targets sir.” My favourite are the Stars – they always sound like they are doing you a favour. “So? I am going to sell you this car insurance – You know why? Because you are lucky I am calling you.”
Then there are the Consultants. These are the ones who call because they want what’s best for you, not to sell you anything but to give you free information, advise, and tips just because you are such a wonderful and loyal existing customer (or because they want you for one)… these get stuck after all their pitching is over because then they have to sell and they can’t because their opening gambit was not to sell but give free advise. ?
Obviously, I get a lot of calls. And earlier, I used to get mighty upset and rant/rave/hangup. Then one day, I got a call when I was idle and in a good mood. And this is how the conversation went:
“Hello sir, I am calling from Blah Blah Financial Advisors. Who are you?”
“You don’t know who you are calling?” I was already smiling.
“Yes sir I know. Mr Mukherjee, no?”
“Yes – how may I help you?”
“No, I want to help you. We have very good financial products to make money quickly.”
“Yes yes. We give 30-40% returns. Our investment experts are very experienced and they know how to invest money.”
“Excellent, excellent,” I said. Then asked, “Do you also have loan products?”
“Yes yes. We give very cheap loans. No documentation.”
“That is too expensive. Banks are offering 15%.”
“How much do you want?”
“How much will you give?”
“We can give up to 10 lakh sir.”
“What about investment sir?”
“Yes why not? Since you are giving me money, I might as well invest. But you guarantee 40% return?”
“Okay but I want that in writing.”
“Can’t give 40% commitment in writing, company policy.”
“Really? Then I can’t invest. Call me back when you can give it in writing. Have a good day.”
Now this one works very well for cold callers if you have time and are willing to draw out the caller into long, engaged conversation. They usually don’t know what happened and when they do, they never call back because they know you are not going to buy and that you will suck up a lot of time without any result.
Another strategy goes like this:
“Hello is this Mukherjee?”
“Hi! You are from the insurance company?”
“Excellent. Do you have my claim money?”
“What? No. I am…”
“What? No money? You insured me and now no claim settlement?”
“But sir ..”
Rant a little and they hang up on their own.
A more indirect strategy is:
“Hello?” Sounding busy.
“I am calling from …”
“Umm, am in a meeting. Could you call me at 4 pm? Thank you.”
I make a note of the number and don’t take further calls for a week. Then, I pick one and tell them I already bought what they are selling from a competitor, why didn’t they call earlier?
Now in a way this is mean of me. I mean, they are really just doing their jobs. But the way most of them go about it, isn’t ethical nor professional nor decorous. For instance, where do they get my number from? These are unsolicited calls and the sales pitches are mostly for products and services that are dubious at best.
But there are also good (even great) telecallers. These are gems. Conversations go like this:
“Hello sir, would you be interested in a new product from our company?”
“No, I have a product and am not looking for anything new.”
“I apologise for disturbing you then. May I call back later in the year to check if you may require our services?”
The answer to that one is yes, because that is a professional and respectful approach. Sign me up for 2 of those. Er… make it three.
#The views expressed in this column are the authors. Images used for representation only
Sanjay Mukherjee is a Pune-based business consultant. He is Founder of RedstoneSummerhill and The Mountain Walker and also serves as Chief Strategy Advisor for the Hong Kong-based learning technology company, Peak Pacific Limited