It’s always rude to ask what do you do?

Remember to take the time to do your research

I received a sales call today from the advertising department of a prominent UK trade magazine. Despite having replied to he who cannot be named’s unsolicited mail with a ‘thanks but no thanks,’ Adman still called so I kindly rewarded his persistence with my time, well until….

I don’t know if a particular Uni or Poly is churning out all the sales people I’ve encountered in the past three years but every single one of them is mad about “conversation.”

We all could expound our theories as to what conversation really is or if it really exists, indeed or if we even exist? These philosophical conundrums can be teased out another day but what I will say is there is a great disparity between what sales people and potential customers would interpret as conversation.

Adman suggested a brief “conversation,” to blah blah see where we were, how we’d fit blah blah.

I appreciate that asking questions is key to sales, the more you know the better you can meet their needs, I get that.

Did Cold Calling 101 not tell you the importance of discriminating between which questions to ask?

The first question was did I sell a product or service, the second asked me to tell him a little more about our product e.g. the target market, sectors etc.

I asked the 3rd question:

Would you be prepared to visit our website and ring me after you’ve completed your background research?

I don’t think that’s high maintenance to expect a modicum of pre-sales effort. This was not a phone survey from a second level business studies student but an adult male representing a national brand.

We’re all busy. If someone pays you the compliment of giving you some, of that scarce commodity, time then it is good manners to repay the compliment by sparing them questions whose answers are already in the public domain.

I interview people regularly, mainly for case studies and articles, but before I pick up the phone I know who they are, what they do and how they’re using the product or service of interest. I’ll have logged in to see actual usage data and pick out any anomalies or issues that need to be clarified. I’ll have a custom theme sheet with topics and questions only relevant to them.

I won’t start a “conversation” with what do you do?

Take the time if someone is giving it!

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