Thursday, March 16, 2006

Research?

I have a feeling that I will write many a posts about my adventures in cold calling. But there is always one call that will stick out in my mind. You see, when I started my previous sales job, (selling cable advertising), I actually took part in a 90 day training program that delved into media sales, sales strategy, and cold calling techniques, among many other topics.

But one underlying theme for cold calling was that you should always do a little research about the company you are calling on. Whether it be revenues, company locations, products offered, people in charge, etc... Regardless, you should know something about the client you are calling on and you should be able to draw on that prior knowledge if given the opportunity during the call. You know, make the client feel like they are important enough for you to have researched them.

So like I was saying before, I will never forget the time I had my ass handed to me on the phone and was completely embarrassed. So here is the situation: I was cold calling on a Friday afternoon. At that point, I was mindlessly dialing numbers, asking for who was in charge of advertising and bumbling through my schtick. So I called on an advertising agency and actually got in touch with the right guy, an older sounding gentleman that lived in Colorado. So the following is roughly the same conversation that we had:

Ad Agent: Hello this is Ad Agent.

Me: Hey Ad Agent, good afternoon, my name is Michael Campbell, I work for Cox Media, we are the company that handles the cable advertising in the Fairfax County area and I was hoping that I could speak to you about your client, Upscale Resale, specifically to talk about some upcoming specials we have...

Ad Agent: No, I don't have time. We do radio.

Me: I understand, that's actually why I am calling. I heard their ad on the radio and I thought that they would be a perfect fit for cable tv.

Ad Agent: Ok, tell me why you think they would be a perfect fit.

Me: Because you could focus in on your target market and advertise specifically to them.

Ad Agent: Who is my target market?

Me: Completely clueless: that's what I was hoping to speak with you about.

Ad Agent: Where are the stores located at?

Me: Fairfax County.

Ad Agent: Good answer, but where?

Me; I have no clue.

Ad Agent: Who owns the company?

Me:I have no clue.

Ad Agent: What do we sell?

Me: Furniture.

Ad Agent: What kind?

Me: No clue.

Ad Agent: What year were we founded?

Me: 1984

Ad Agent: 1952. Nice try.

Dead silence.

Me: This isnt going very well is it?

Ad agent: Son, this has been the biggest waste of my time in my entire career. Please don't ever call me again. Next time, have a fucking clue and do some research about your fucking client before you fucking call on them. CLICK.

He hung up on me. I was shocked, embarrassed, pissed off, upset and shocked. Did that really just happen to me? Did that guy really just curse me out on the phone and then hang up on me? What the hell just happened? I sat there for about ten minutes completely shell shocked. I didn't really know what to do or say. I mean, i felt like a total dumbass. I just broke one of the cardinal rules of cold calling. You should know a little bit about the company before you call them. With the ease of gathering information made possible by the interweb, you should never not know some background info on a company you are calling on.

So what did I do? I decided I was going to find out as much information as possible about the company, take notes, study it and then call the guy back and beg for forgiveness. So I drove down to the store, walked around, took notes about the clientele, read every single page of their website, called and asked who their owner was, and basically tried to find out every thing I could about them.

So the next Monday, I called up the ad agent and apologized for being such an idiot and wasting his time. I then thanked him for teaching me a very valuable lesson. I told him that he could hang up on me at any minute, but before he did, I just wanted him to know what he taught me and how I would remember him for the rest of my life.

He laughed initially, and then quizzed me a little bit about the company and after that, he completely opened up to me. Turns out that he graduated from UGA in 1967. I told him I graduated from there in 1999 and he bout had a heart attack. He immediately started telling me stories about his time there and we went back and forth for a good hour and a half reminiscing with each other.

I ended up signing him to my second largest contract ever. As it turns out, there was an inside joke going around in the company that this client would never ever sign on to do cable advertising because of how big of a prick their ad agent was. When my boss found out that I signed them onto a large contract, he immediately sent an email out to all of the sales people recounting my story. It was one of my proudest moments.

2 Comments:

At 1:20 PM, Blogger sasefina said...

Atta boy Moady. Don't ever lose that humility. That's when people start to become real assholes.

 
At 11:00 PM, Blogger Martin McFriend said...

Good shot Red 2. That's a hell of a story.

 

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