Professionalism is a must, no matter what business process you’re engaged in. But as far as telemarketing goes, it’s painful to ignore the drama associated with it. This drama often comes from a lack of professionalism but the real cause is often reduced to shifting the most blame to either side of the conversation.

The truth is that lack of professionalism goes both ways. Now why is this important? For one thing, it’s a terrible waste of many things (time, money, peace of mind etc). This goes for whether it’s your telemarketers being rude or a prospect is deliberately being rude to your agents.

If it’s your agents:

  • You lose a potential customer
  • A sour customer can spread very bad referrals (dangerous in any B2B industry)
  • It’s something that’s within your control and should have been avoided

If it’s your prospect:

  • The best you’ll get out is a shouting match
  • You’re giving the rude guy the satisfaction
  • Attempts to please might result in overselling

And yet, wouldn’t it unfair to not draw a line? Surely the rudeness of either side aren’t that similar to each other. There should be some way to tell them apart so that you can take the appropriate action.

For that, here is a list of Top Ten ways to be rude in business. Now among these ten, there are at least two that can be exclusive to rude agents and another two to rude prospects.

For agents

7. The cloak of anonymity: Notes without names on them — particularly to customers who may want or need to respond to you or keep records — are obnoxious. If you’re writing to someone who doesn’t already know who you are, give them your name. Who are you hiding from, and why?

It’s Basic Telemarketing 101. You should never forget the name of your prospect. It diminishes trust (which telemarketing already doesn’t inspire a lot of).

8. Dropping names: I’m not talking about mentioning all the important people you know (though that’s obnoxious too). I’m talking about not addressing people by name when you can and should be doing so. Again, this happens a lot in (poor) customer service. If someone gives you their name, use it when addressing them.

It’s not just customer service. What’s the point of remembering a name if you’re too hesitant to address your prospect by it? Don’t be lazy as to leave a simple task like that to your sales people.

For prospects

4. Inviting messages, then ignoring them: If you have a voice mail box or otherwise provide a means of leaving messages, it implies that you check and attend to them. Yet more and more people who have the standard “leave a message and I’ll get right back to you” recording never listen to their voice mail. If you don’t want messages and/or don’t plan to respond, that’s fine — just don’t invite them. Disable your voice inbox or leave an outgoing message saying you don’t check voice mail. It’s really that simple.

Okay, if a prospect leaves any contact information but complains to you about using it for marketing, there’s a big chance that this person is not worth a deal. Sure, you should also use common sense and presume the kind of messages they’re expecting. But when someone says they’re open to discussing a lot of things and don’t rule out business deals, you should hold them to their word. If not, how do you expect them to hold their word when you’re working them?

10. Annoying the other 95 percent of the world: America may be the hub of the business world, but unfortunately many American business people act as if it is the center of the universe. I see it when people correspond with overseas companies, and I certainly see it in my international travels. Quiet, humble politeness is a universal language.

Touchy as this is, it’s still a sad fact that telemarketers (especially those outsourced offshore) are popular targets for that kind of controversial abuse. Yes, some companies really need to train out the accents. But if you’ve outsourced one that’s good enough, it’s not very professional to work with someone who thinks badly of you for offshoring.

Different as they are though, the moment you experience these is the moment you start cutting down on your minutes. They’re too precious to be spent like that without finding a solution first. Agents who show such rudeness shouldn’t be let off easy and prospects who are the same are not worth giving your energy to.