How A Cold Caller Is Like a Stripper

By Jay Valentine

Stripper
Like A Stripper

The first parallel is you would not want your child to be either one.  Certainly being a stripper is more exploitative than a cold caller, but they do have some common traits.

Both hate doing what they are doing.  In way too many cases, those doing these occupations are people with no other place to go.

Too many young people starting in sales work for some loser manager who tells them they have to take old, tired lists of previous prospects and dial for dollars against them all day.  It is an ugly business for the first few weeks.  Many promising young reps just quit; in too many cases they quit and never come back to sales.  That is a sad ending.

In other cases, they keep cold calling, endlessly.  They never learn the many innovative ways to find the customer who is the perfect fit for their product.  These people either burn out and quit or some of go to LinkedIn and sell cold calling coaching as a service.  That is deplorable.

Why does cold calling really suck? 

First, it is interruptive.  It interrupts what the prospect is doing often when they are in some level of concentration. 

Cold calling is one of the few sales techniques customers loathe so much they pay millions of dollars to thwart.  Executives hide their email addresses.  They protect their phone numbers with the vigor of protecting their Social Security Numbers.  Companies implement SPAM filters on corporate email systems. 

Like other obsolete sales techniques, it once worked.  It did!

20 or so years ago, cold calling was a very effective tool.  Prospects had no internet, no way to find out about new technologies and they did not use their cell phones as the most important accessory in their lives.

In those days there were Fuller Brush salesmen who knocked on doors, spoke with the “housewife” who was home alone, were invited in to show their wares and often created a customer.

Does anyone think this would happen today?  And what’s a “housewife?”

A cell phone is more than that thing with a dial that once sat on a desktop.  A phone today is a container for one’s identity – music, contacts, the email system, family photos, calendar, a wallet.

Is it any surprise that when a stranger calls that cell phone you are repelled by it?  Of course not, that is a human thing to do.

Is it news that when you are in an important meeting with a subordinate, helping them through a personal issue that impacts their work, your phone rings and it is Joe the Cold Caller with a pitch for a product you do not recognize?  Your reaction is instant anger!

Cold calling is more sinister than just being interruptive.  Since cold calling so universally loathed, those who have to lower themselves to doing it use SCAM products to get you to answer.

Ever heard of “local presence dialing?”  Sounds pretty innocent, even like a feature you might enjoy.  Until you are scammed by it.

Local presence dialing enables the cold caller to be in Oregon while you live in Austin.  You don’t know anyone in Oregon so you would not accept a call from a 503 area code.  So, the call is not from 503, it is from 512.

512, that Austin area code, from an unfamiliar number, could be from the dog rescue with a call about the animal you saved on the highway.  Of course you take the call. 

Aha! When you expect to hear the vet, you get Joe the Cold Caller with that pithy pitch:  “Hi (chirpy voice) I have some new ways for you to save millions of dollars…..”

CLICK as you hang up.  A moment later you move to BLOCK CALL.

Welcome to cold calling.  Instead of possibly making a customer, instead of generating interest, the prospect has just blocked your phone number forever.

Not to worry, a lot of the cold callers come from phone banks with an almost infinite array new numbers to harass you.  So off you go blocking call after call.

Cold calling is for losers.  It is. 

It only works for people who cannot craft a compelling message, that generates interest, curiosity, perhaps even a response.  Cold calling works on the premise that most humans have the very human tendency to not cut off someone with whom they just engaged, even though it was forced on them.

Joe the Cold Caller knows he or she can intrude on this person for that golden “15 seconds we have to hook them to a longer call.”  If they get a bit longer, because the recipient is just too generous to hang up, they become even more intrusive.

Cold calling is the porno of sales techniques.  It is loathed by both those receiving the call and almost as often by the poor person forced to make the call.

Here is a test:  If you could reach a customer in a different way, wouldn’t you do it?  If your answer is “yes” then you have just defined a cold call as a low end, desperate means of contacting.

Cold callers cannot get people to come to them. 

Often they are in businesses that people find from a pain in the neck to abhorrent with which to interact.  These include health insurance callers, headhunters, lead management types, transaction software reps and an army of equally undifferentiated product callers.

Joe the Cold Caller knows nobody is going to call, nobody is going to reach out so thus the heavy handed, interruptive call.

Cold calling is so abhorrent, Hollywood even makes movies about it.  They do not make movies about how to do it and how much fun it is, they make movies about how soul crushing it is and how it is the picture of the end of life for characters played by Jack Lemmon.

There are innumerable movies about boiler room operations where poor, loser types call strangers all day under immense pressure.  The pressure is not for offering great customer service, it is to get a sale, no matter the cost.

Ben Affleck and Giovanni Ribisi played different characters in The Boiler Room where Ribisi’s father was visibly ashamed his kid had to do this kind of work.  While Jack Lemon played the other end of this age group in Glengarry Glen Ross, the profile was the same – dead end, no real opportunity, screw the customer no matter the cost, sales, revenue, get on the board!

ABC!!! Always be closing!

The drama was about the toll taken on the caller’s humanity for having to make cold calls all day.

2020 is not 1975.

People do not want to be sold to by Joe the Cold Caller.

Joe the Cold Caller has that in common with the stripper.  Nobody wants their kid to have to do that kind of work.

For the stripper, while equally exploited, at least people do willingly come to see them.

Jay Valentine is CEO of ContingencySales.com, bringing technology products to market without venture capital.  www.JayValentine.com

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