The beloved bloodsucker from True Blood (beloved, at least, by my missus Jess) has nothing to do with this post, but it was Jess who gave the thought its life, so here's a picture of Bill.
After fielding yet another annoying marketing call Jess observed that we should have a government bill that says, as is the case with vampires, telemarketers can only come into our home if we invite them.
It seems that regardless of whether they’re pitching solar panels, insurance or just seeking a donation, the telemarketers have all been trained by the same company.
They’re trained to offer an obscure introduction, one that doesn’t offer enough information for us to decide to say no or just hang up. “We’re from AMS Research,” they might say. “And we’d like to ask you a few questions.”
Okay, nothing sinister yet – some of us don’t mind answering questions if it would be useful.
It usually turns out that the questions are along the lines of “When can we come and install the solar panels you just purchased?”
They talk without taking breath, they have an insistent response to every ‘Ummmm’ we mutter, and they don’t let us get a word in.
And for some fucking reason they think it works.
Obviously, it must work to some extent or they would no longer bother calling. But I contend that it’s not the ‘clever’ strategy they’ve been taught that gets them their sales, instead that there’s always a sucker out there (a legitimate customer, even) who was in fact already open to the idea of buying insurance or signing up for some raffle tickets.
I suspect that these telemarketers are trained by the same people who are responsible for the content marketing scourge I wrote about recently.
The techniques telemarketers are taught don’t actually work, but those who impart the training have convinced them that they do. “We’ll train your staff not to take no for an answer. Evidence shows that if you bamboozle your target in these ways then positive responses increase by 23.5 per cent.”
Bullshit. Anyone can come up with ‘evidence’ like this.
Damn them all to hell. But if we can't escape these bastards – and I've tried, through signing up for every do-not-call register I can find – here’s what might work instead.
If you are a telemarketer, be clear with what you want. Be upfront. Offer an out for anyone who’s not interested (and this will be most of us, which is fine – calls are cheap, no harm done).
The Bill that Jess is demanding would simply say that anyone conducting a cold telemarketing call must:
In other words, may I come in? No? Thanks anyway, see you later.
Some people would be happy to let Vampire Bill in (including Jess). But if you don’t want company it would be nice if you could banish the bastards with a minimum of fuss.
Serious stories about communication
told in a silly voice.
I dig a little deeper than most comms folk. From science at university, to a cold-and-wet career as a commercial diver, to working underground, and for the past 15 years as a communicator-at-large, I've had my fair share of weird experiences in all sorts of situations. It's given me a fair-to-middling grounding in all things explanatory.