shutdown

I can tell there’s been a new training program shift for B2B cold call telemarketers. They’re now all asking the same self-deflating question to me.

TYPICAL CALL

ME: Hello.

TM: Are you the person in the business responsible for buying snow blowers?! I’m selling snow blowers  Your business needs one now! (plus 30-45 seconds more of non-paused script which, frankly, I don’t have the energy to re-create here in this fictional exchange.)

ME: We’re not interested, thanks.

TM: Can I ask why not?

ME: It doesn’t snow here.

TM: Oh.

The sales seminar down at the airport Marriott would advise you to ask questions to overcome objections which I assume is where this question is coming from.

But the reality is that, in sales, you should never allow the opportunity to paint yourself into a corner. The same advice applies if you are an actual floor painter.

(Full disclosure: It actually does snow here.)

congressional scam

A scam from Congress — imagine that!

I got a message this morning from a staffer of Congressman Tom Cole. It seemed that he wanted to present me with an award called the Congressional Order of Merit for my work with small businesses.

Frankly, I’ve gotten to the point where weird phone calls and emails don’t surprise me anymore. There’s always an interesting proposition in them. But this one seemed a little more odd than the others. I knew that Tom Cole was not in my state’s congressional delegation.

Something smelled bad. So I googled Tom Cole and from the first page of results it was apparent that he was a real congressman. But why would a congressman from Oklahoma want to present something to someone from Kentucky? So out of extreme curiosity, I returned the call.

Something automated picked up before I got the person, so I immediately went on guard. That’s when it hit me to google the phone number 888-383-4164.

As the “staffer” was talking to me, the google search found numerous blog posts about this scam that’s actually being run BY the Republican National Committee. For a “donation” of a few hundred dollars, you get this “award”. After the recorded message from the congressman was over, I told her to remove me from her list.

An issue that’s rotten with the Do-Not-Call list is the fact that things like this are legal. The politicians exempted themselves from the law. And it’s not just the Republicans. The Democrats are doing similar things as well.

The other rotten aspect here is the gathering of data from domain registrations. These scammers didn’t think I was with Shotgun Concepts. They thought I was with a company that I did a website for this summer. I registered their domain name on my domain account. I’m also getting business credit card junk mail addressed to my client. It’s the only place where my name and their name are conneceted. Shame on all registrars including mine, GoDaddy, for allowing this to happen and trying to make a buck by charging for protection against it.

I’m forwarding this blog post to my actual Kentucky congressional delegation and I urge you to contact yours as well.
Contact your Represenative
Contact your Senator

call me – or not

People are discovering the Do Not Call List has an expiration date.

And telemarketers are ready to pounce.

But here’s the thing that someone with common sense would understand:
If someone didn’t want to be marketed to 5 years ago, they probably still don’t today.

Organizations that think things like the do-not-call list, and email unsubscibes are a hurdle are also organizations who like to waste money and resources by trying to market to people who have stated they are not interested.

A smart marketer understands that by only talking to those who have expressed an interest to listen makes your marketing ROI go way up.

Free to move about the cabin

First off, let me make clear that I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines. When I travel, they are my first choice for an airline. The price, the company culture, and common sense methodology that they use to run a business impresses me everytime.

But two separate things have come up about SWA in the past few days that all marketers (and Southwest) could take a lesson.

1) People don’t like change…even GOOD change
When I was a child, my grandmother would sit at the kitchen table to make out a grocery list. She would mentally go through the store and write things down in the order that she would come to them. One day we went and they had re-set the store. It threw her system off and made her mad.

I was extremely familiar with the SWA website. I knew where everything was. Then I logged on the other day and they had redesigned the website. I can see the new website is a much better design. Frankly, I think it’s a lot easier to use. I would have advised Southwest to change the old site to the new one. But part of me doesn’t like the site.

People get used to what they’re used to. It’s simple enough, but we forget that. I think it’s a good sign that people get upset when you change things. It means that they’re invested in the site and they view it as “their website”. When you change things and no one makes a fuss, you’re in trouble.

2) Sometimes cleverness can go too far
I primarily deal with the company through the web (see above). But today, I had to actually call the airline to deal with a unique situation. The rep was friendly in the typical Southwest way. And she told me she had to put me on hold for a minute or two. Her demeanor was so good that I didn’t mind.

And then I started listening to the on-hold message. In one of my seminars, I spend a good chunk of time talking about marketing on-hold messages. I may call SWA back and have them put me on hold so I can record an example of what not to do.

The message started with some of the type of cutesy things that you hear from the flight crew when you fly and then they had a recording of someone calling the customer service line. The first time I heard ‘Southwest Airlines, can I help you?”…I started telling this new person that I was waiting for the 1st rep. And then I realized what was going on and felt crazy.
Then more cute.
Then “Southwest Airlines, can I help you?”. I started again.
More cute.
“Southwest Airlines, can I help you?” I paused…not sure.

And it went on like this for two or three minutes. When the real person came back, I didn’t say anything until she said “Mr. Houchens?”.

It was the most on-edge hold I’ve ever been on.

The cuteness and cleverness is one of the brand hallmarks of Southwest. And people (and I) love it. But, a surreal mobius loop of an on-hold message can freak you out.