- You may not be dealing with telemarketers in the best way.
- Consider hanging up, lying, offering positive reinforcement or being a rascal.
They never stop. Day after day, Deke Tidwell receives around six calls from vendors hawking the latest silver bullet.
The sales pitches from listing portals, CRM providers, SEO auditors and all the others can be disruptive, interrupting conversations he’s having with clients. Tidwell, a Realtor at Missoula, Montana-based Properties 2000, won’t abide it.
He hangs up.
“I can tell you as as general rule, often the telemarketers come on with somewhat of a disingenuous kind of lead,” he said.
Their most common ploy, he said, is to give the impression that they are a fellow agent with a referral in hand.
“When you tell somebody, ‘OK, put me on your do-not-call list,’ it never really seems to work, so typically I just hang up on them,” he said.
That’s only one of many ways to cope with the daily deluge of sales calls that you may receive.
Some agents tell sales representatives they’re not interested in gentler terms, perhaps even offering them a positive-reinforcement sandwich for the road. Others treat the calls as free training, seeking to pick up on sales techniques that they could put to use themselves.
There are even a few kind souls who entertain the offer they’re being pitched.
Read on to discover your best option for dealing with telemarketers.
While many agents want to get rid of telemarketers ASAP, some turn sales calls into learning opportunities.
If Andrew Gavin, a San Diego, California-based agent, has a little time on his hands, he’ll answer the calls from other area codes that he knows are likely to be sales representatives.
Then, he’ll listen carefully to try and identify any sales techniques or turns of phrases that he likes.
“If I have a free minute I will answer and listen to the pitch and the language used,” he said, commenting on a Facebook post in Raise the Bar in Real Estate. “So many of those companies send their telemarketers to training that I would never go to.”
2. Turn the tables
This is for agents who like to mess with people.
“I love sales calls,” says New Orleans, Louisiana-based broker Ron Mazier.
He lets reps make their pitch, testing their skill and mettle — “sparring” with them to to see if he can glean anything. Then he turns the tables: He starts trying to persuade the callers to buy a home in New Orleans.
“I ask if they prefer that I follow up with them at this number or their home number,” he said.
Telemarketers aren’t always amused.
3. Hang up immediately, without feeling bad
Rather than hang up and feel slightly guilty, plenty of agents dispatch sales calls with squeaky-clean consciences.
Tidwell is constitutionally opposed to getting sold something on the phone (he does not cold-call himself). And since sales calls interrupt his work flow, and his work flow drives his service to clients, hanging up ASAP is simply the right thing to do.
“Sorry, but it’s about making a statement,” he adds. “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.”
4. Hang up ‘politely’
If hanging up immediately leaves you feeling slightly guilty, another approach is to say, “No thanks.” And then hang up.
You can sleep well at night knowing that you were at least somewhat polite and that, had you engaged the sales rep, the person might have kept you on the line for quite a while — a waste of everyone’s time.
“Since telemarketers are trained to keep talking as long as you’re still on the line, it’s OK to hang up on them, politely,” said Joe Sheehan, a Pottstown, Pennsylvania-based agent.
Hanging up right away often reflects a belief that there’s simply nothing you can say to keep a telemarketer from calling you again. Plenty of agents think that’s the case. But if you want to at least try to use words to fend off vendors, and your worldview agrees, your best bet may be to lie.
“I am moving to a new area in a couple months and will no longer be in real estate,” Andrea Himes, a Collegeville, Pennsylvania-based agent, tells sales reps.
6. Say you’ve already completed your business plan
This seems to be a particularly popular tactic, and it may or may not involve lying. If you say you’ve already nailed down your business plan and budget, your interlocuter doesn’t have much to work with — not your business plan or your budget, at least.
“I already have my marketing plan in place for the first half of 2016, I won’t make a major changes at this time,” Nashville, Tennessee-based broker Steve Jolly tells sales reps. “Check back with me in July when I review it again.”
They never call back, he said.
7. Ignore calls from numbers outside your area code
This isn’t full-proof. Google Voice and “spoofing” allow telemarketers to reach you from numbers with local area codes, said Mike Jaquish, a Cary, North Carolina broker-owner.
Plus, what if you missed a call from a prospect or client?
Gavin argues that a client or true potential client will leave a message.
“If you don’t, then it is not important to reach me,” Gavin said. “Sure, I might be losing something by taking this approach, but I have to be in control of my time.”
8. Don’t be a hypocrite
Many agents may have something of a moral obligation to hear out telemarketers, some professionals say.
Not all agents who use telephones to market themselves to strangers would agree that they practice telemarketing. One agent says it’s “my duty to help people become wealthy,” so his calls to prospects don’t count.
Jaquish thinks that this line of thinking is a way of “rationalizing intruding on people for your personal mission.”
Either way, agents who regularly contact strangers by phone to try and win their business — whether they fancy themselves telemarketers or not — should give the guys calling them for the same reason a shot, some say.
“As a sales professional, I personally try to empathize with them, given that I, myself make sales calls to prospective clients,” said George Jackson, an Alabaster, Alabama-based agent. “I’m cordial, yet firm if I’m not interested in what they have to offer.”
Many agents who don’t cold-call think that agents who do cold-call are indeed obligated to give telemarketers a chance. Those same agents often say, however, that they are not.
9. Be avuncular
You also have the option of acting like a supportive uncle.
“I thank them for their interest in my success,” said the evidently kind-hearted John MacArthur, a Washington, D.C.-based agent. “I let them know I understand they are working and let them know that I am but one more no on their journey to a yes.”
10. Actually hear them out
As crazy as it sounds, actually entertaining a telemarketer’s offer has been proven to produce at least two types of positive outcomes: 1) The occasional discovery of a good product or service and 2) A boost in morale for an otherwise much-scorned individual.
Ron Escobar, a Los Angeles-based broker-owner, was impressed when he recently received a call from a film school graduate “hustling for biz on a Sunday.” While he didn’t need what she was selling (listing photography), he liked her so much, he ended up hiring her as a video editor.
It’s people like Simon that “helps me not hate picking up the phone,” said Daniel Simon, who said he makes sales calls to agents.
“I have had numerous real estate agents yell or immediately cop an attitude when I call. I think…I’m only doing the same profession you are,” he said. “Is this how you would want your client to treat you?
11. And nurture…
Kj Lange, Kingston, Washington-based agent, also will let callers make their pitch. If she’s interested in a product or service, she’ll ask the rep to send her an email so she can do her due diligence.
By hearing reps out and responding politely and honestly, she’s helped at least one telemarketer better understand how to really listen.
“I told one guy that I was interested but not committed,” she said. “He says, ‘Ya know, thank you for that. Now I know the difference.'” The caller later said her comment had helped him “reframe a lot of conversations.”
Asks the angelic Kingston of all agents — from all the bubbly team leaders to every last cranky lone wolf: “We are all just here to help each other, right?”