Sunday, June 8, 2008

People relations: When they call and you wish they hadn't

I'm finally in a work position where people are selling me ideas. (And I do a lot of idea-selling too, by the way.) Printers call to see if we can pay them to print a program book. Radio ad sales people call to see what events we have coming up that they can help us with. At least two people call every day wanting me to spend some of our organization's money with them. Media buys of any kind are a small part of my job. I also write and edit newsletters, our Web site, pitch ideas to media, plan marketing for our events and program growth and write grants. And I don't have time to help them figure out how they can help me.

I call them if we need ads, media clippings, printing. So my question is, what do you do when someone leaves a message (so glad we have caller ID now) about a service he wants to tell you about? Do you call him back and say, thanks but no thanks? So he doesn't think you're looking for a project for him? Or, do you ignore him? (That's what I do.) Doesn't everyone?

Let me know what you do. Because I'm starting to wonder if I'm doing something wrong, because I get these types of messages on second and third tries after I don't return the call.

* "Yes, Wendy. I'm just following up after the (huff) voice mail I left (another huff) last week and the e-mail I sent the week before about the media tracking service we can you. Please call me back. (last huff)"

* "Wendy! I've left two voice messages and at least one e-mail about Summer Games, that you guys have going on. We really need to get started on the copy so we can get on air in time." (This message comes after an ad was already on air on a different station.)

Also, speaking of dealing with sales people. I'm getting ready to buy another car. Got any tips for how to get a good deal, other than bring a male shark negotiator?


mab said...

I chose to not return sales phone calls. My reasoning is based on the time is money principle. If I don't answer the phone, I save my time and the caller's time from having a useless conversation. If I don't return the sales call, I save the sales agent and myself time (not making a sale/gaining a service). Therefore, by not wasting my or the sales agent's time, I am freeing s/he and myself up to make more money or be more productive. In an odd way, it's almost considerate to not return the phone call.

As for the issue of me missing out on crucial information about a new product - that's what voice mail and soundbite pitches are all about, right?

Finally, if the sales agent continues to call, I then answer the phone, stop the sales pitch as soon as possible and ask that they not call back. I then return to step 1 - ignoring the sales calls without guilt (or seeking a restraining order if need be). :)

Amber said...

For a short time I sold seats/groups/parties at a professional baseball stadium. It was the first and last sales job I will ever have! They really taught us that you have to make those 3 calls, "create urgency" and ask for that call back.

You absolutely do NOT need to call them back, because honestly they don't care to hear from you unless you have good news for them (like you are prepared to spend money!).

City Sights and Observations said...

Thanks ya'll. Mab, you've cleared my conscience. Amber, thanks for explaining why the "urgent" calls happen. Glad to know ignoring is still OK.

mab said...

While I advocate not returning sales calls, I have noticed that some individuals are down right rude to sales agents. Now - don't get me wrong, sales agents are often rude too. However, many sales agents are like Amber - they are ordinary people tring to make a living and they mean no harm. They could even be a friend. So, while I advocate not returning sales calls, I also urge folks to be polite as possible when we accidentally answer the sales call. There's no need to yell and scream (as I have seen from others) - just politely tell them that you are not interested; there's no need to call back so please don't call back; and that you're hanging up now - have a good day!