The Failure of Telephone Prospecting

Posted by | January 30, 2018 | Marketing Automation | No Comments
Telephone Prospecting Failure

Today, on my way to a lunch meeting, I received a phone call on my mobile phone.  I didn’t recognize the phone number, but it was similar to a number of one of our customers who connected with me earlier in the day.  So, I picked up the call. It was a salesperson.  Before I could say much beyond hello, the sales person jumped into their telephone prospecting pitch:

“I’m with XYX Company. We do this and that. We’ve been recognized by so many great organizations and do a better job than other companies similar to us. If you are in front of your computer, go to this URL and I can show you our product.”

Telephone Prospecting Fail

I sighed and said I was driving and was not in front of my computer. Now was not a good time.  They continued, “Okay, no problem. Let’s schedule some time this week — about 30-40 minutes — and I can show you more.”

If you’re anything like me, you receive a dozen of these calls a day.

Maybe it’s ego. Maybe it’s the desire to feel important. Maybe we believe what we have to say is more important than our peers.  Maybe we believe they actually care about what we are saying.  Maybe we just like to hear ourselves talk.

I don’t know why people often talk more when they should be listening.  Really listening. Especially in sales, when a potential customer’s time is so valuable.   

I heard a statistic once stating the average person thinks about themselves 90 percent of the time.  So, no matter the topic, people put a small portion of it into their own context. How can they relate to this? Do they believe what I am saying? Will this provide them more knowledge, help them become better, confirm or dispute a core belief?

At the end of the exchange, it really is not about you, it’s about them. Simply changing the paradigm to seek first to understand, then to be understood can have a profound impact on your relationship with other people. In any relationship,  I am encouraged when I met someone who is a great listener.  They’re engaged, and asking probing questions.  They seek clarification and make me feel more important.   Mostly, they just make me feel heard.

As we interact with people in sales and marketing, how many of them are too busy talking (about themselves, their company, their product) in their telephone prospecting pitch to listen to what is important to us?  

Is your sales and marketing messaging mostly focused on you (company/product) or focused on the customer?  Do you have a good story to share relating to a company that did a great job of initially engaging a prospective customer and incorporated “listening” into the conversation?  


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Troy Burk is the CEO and founder of Right On Interactive. He is a recognized thought leader and speaker on the topics of lifecycle marketing, marketing automation, lead scoring and nurturing, and email marketing. Troy earned his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children where he serves on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Marketing Committee and is involved with youth sports.

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