I've worked for a telemarketing company for two years and made a lot of unwanted calls. I have to keep making them because most people don't know how to get rid of us, but the right approach can make all the difference. Here's how you can get rid of telemarketers like me and save us both a lot of time.
Erica Elson is a freelance writer who has worked at a variety of strange jobs to support herself.
How Telemarketers Get to You
Not all companies run exactly the same way, but most calls follow a similar pattern. Successful telemarketers generally have a 96 per cent chance of getting turned down. With such terrible odds, they will be relentless in trying to keep you on the phone.
Each telemarketer has their own username and password, so all the information they gather during their shift stays linked to them. Depending on the company calling you, the lead will display a little or a lot of information. I work for an arts organisation, so we can see the customer's entire history: subscriptions, added ticket purchases for friends, donations, and sometimes even notes on who their assistants or friends are. In other cases, they may just have your phone number.
Anything relevant you mention will be added to your lead profile: an email address, best time to call, or your objections to the product. Don't say anything to the telemarketer unless you want it written down on your profile.
If the caller doesn't reach you, they mark your lead as "no answer" and the system programs it so you get called again a few days later. If the company does not have a large lead pool, you may get called as soon as 12 hours later. If you're dealing with this kind of aggressive campaign, it's actually better to answer then to let them keep calling you. (More on how to handle that later.)
If the caller does speak to you, they will do their best to sell to you on the first call. A good telemarketer uses the "Three Nos" rule: don't let the customer go until they have said "no" three times during the phone call. This technique has actually worked for me several times. After the first two no, the client often runs out of reasons and becomes more persuadable. Telemarketers try to keep you on the phone as long as possible because they can eventually wear you down and get money out of you.
If you don't purchase on that initial phone call, the telemarketer will log everything you've said and suggest calling you back another time. These are logged as "call backs" — tiny gold nuggets for telemarketers. Selling to a call back is more likely than selling to a first call because you've already established a rapport. This process may take weeks, and sometimes results in a sale simply because the patron wants to stop the calls.
How You're Making It Worse
A lot of people make simple mistakes that lead to several more calls. Here are the things you need to avoid:
- Don't immediately hang up the phone. This results in the telemarketer marking your lead as "no answer" and calling you back until they actually have a conversation with you.
- Don't engage with the telemarketer in any way. This gives them the false hope that you may just need some convincing and are actually interested in their product. Do not ask questions. Do not explain why you are not interested in the product. Do not show empathy or other human characteristics.
- Don't get irrationally angry at the telemarketer. Remember, the computer chose your lead, not the caller. If you scream at them because you've gotten called before, this will not make them sympathetic to your case. It's likely they will just put you back into the lead pool to torture you. If the telemarketer is being rude, you can ask to speak to a manager. Despite what they might say, every campaign and business has a supervisor in the call room.
- Don't give up mid-conversation and hang up without an explanation. This will most likely result in the telemarketer calling back, claiming you got "disconnected". If you don't answer then, they will keep calling.
- Don't let the telemarketer call you back at another time. Anything that's not a hard "no" will be interpreted as an opportunity to call you back. When you say "This isn't a good time", the telemarketer hears "Call me back later!" When you say "Sorry, I don't have time to talk about this right now" the telemarketer hears "I will buy this another day!"
Telemarketers literally have a script that tells them how to respond to every objection, so the less you engage with them, the better.
How to Make the Calls Stop
The most efficient way to get the person to stop calling you requires you to say one sentence: "Please put me on your do not call list". Don't say "Can you put me on your do not call list?" or "I don't want to get these calls". This will lead them to ask why. Be polite but firm. If they ask why or won't do it right away, remain calm and repeat, "I want you to put me on your do not call list."
You should register on the do not call list if you haven't already. It's illegal for a company to keep calling you if you're on this list. Unfortunately, it is not illegal for charities or political parties. But most of those run seasonal campaigns, so at least your lead will be put to rest for three to 11 months.
The solution for getting rid of telemarketers may seem obvious, but it's mostly about the approach. By using those exact words and not making any of the mistakes previously mentioned, you don't give the caller anything to work with. The way you phrase your response can mean the difference between getting called all the time and getting rid of telemarketers efficiently. Make the right choices and you won't be bothered.
This article has been updated since its original publication date
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