I got a call recently from a woman that sounded like a potential client for Link Humans (my company). She introduced herself by saying her name and company and that she was recommended to speak to me by someone in a meeting she just had. Something didn’t sit right with me so I only gave her small tid bits of information. She was asking whether we do work in the public sector and more importantly if we would be interested in doing so, as the spending budgets in this sector are in the billions of pounds. I explained that we are in no position to handle that much business but she persevered.

No research before a sales call?

The woman on the line then asked more about my company, what we do and our clients. She hadn’t bothered to look at our website and she knew pretty much nothing about us, indicating she had done absolutely no research before a cold call  – this may save her time but she loses all credibility. She could easily have googled Link Humans and myself to get a gist of what is going on with a company. I always look people up on LinkedIn for instance before a call or meeting (although I never do cold calling to be fair).

Only in it for the quick sale

This woman I spoke to had no interest in meeting me, sending me a brochure or even an email. Her job was to close this sale on the phone there and then – classic sales stuff. The trouble is that it will never work in my mind. Business is all about building relationships, not short term wins (unless you are selling widgets on a street corner of course).

Knowing where the pushy boundaries are

Toward the end of this call I had completely lost any interest in listening to her spiel and simply said “thank you, I’m not interested”. When I said this she countered with more questions like “why are you not interested in new clients with millions to spend?”. I repeated my statement and she popped out one line after the other. By this time I had put her on speaker and others were listening in and giggling away, something she seemed oblivious of. When a customer says they are not interested, and even repeats this I would recommend quitting for the day. The only way to continue the dialogue would be to ask to send an email or call back later – she did neither of these, only kept pushing with ultra-salesy questions. I sales you typically want to advance a relationship and get it closer to that sale, but you have to take the steps to get there. If you don’t have a brochure or a PDF to email over, be a bit creative instead of just firing over more cheesy statements like “so you are telling me you want to walk away from solid new business”?

Word-of-mouth is the way forward

We will only work with companies and people we have met in person or at the very least have had a number of conversations over Skype. Link Humans typically gets clients through word-of-mouth and I prefer to have been recommended through a mutual contact. Yes, of course we get clients through social media, as it is what we do, but a surprising number of these have another connection to us as well. My point here is that cold calling companies, doing no research in advance and only looking to close an instant deal is simply not going to work.

How to deal with calls like these

When somebody sounds a bit too nice for comfort, just ask straight away: is this a sales call? When they confirm that it is (they have to), you can simply say you’re not interested in anything and cut the call short. As long as you don’t know the person is selling, you’re wasting your precious time with a call that is leading nowhere. My gut feeling on this call was that it was a sales call but I failed to ask the question early on and wasted eight minutes of my time (and hers!). It turned into a bit of comedy instead and a blog post of course so I guess I shouldn’t complain.


How do you deal with pushy phone sales people? Please share your tips!