We’ve all been there. You are right in the middle of doing a project which requires both hands and getting ready to address the most complicated part when BBBRRRNNNNGG, your telephone rings. As a small business owner, letting the call go to voice mail could result in the loss of a sale, so I drop what I’m doing and run for the phone. And what do I get for the disruption and inconvenience? A telemarketer who wants to sell me a “loan” for my business. A loan that I didn’t apply for, don’t need and suspect comes with a HUGE interest rate if I were dumb enough to accept it.
Now the first time a telemarketer calls, I always give them the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has a job, and this one is theirs. Out of respect and courtesy I firmly state I am not interested and to please remove my number from their database.
But when the second or third time rolls around, it takes its toll. So what methods can you use to deter future calls?
And while we’re talking about unwanted interruptions, what about those pesky e-mails? The ones you get several times a week for things that either you have no interest in whatsoever or for things that you “thought” at one time you might want but have since decided against it. Guess you aren’t allowed to change your mind. Ever. Day in and day out, you have to manually delete those e-mails that the Spam filter missed.
What do you do? I’ve come up with a few methods that have worked for me and I thought I’d share them with you.
1. Why would they ask that?
Answer the phone and act enthusiastic about everything they have to say. When they stop to breathe, ask a question about a service or product that is completely unrelated to what they are calling you about. For instance, if it’s for a loan ask “How many times a year would you recommend that the furnace be cleaned?” The first time, they will more than likely pause for a minute and then they will continue trying to close you. At this point ask a second question that is not only unrelated to the product/service that they are talking about but also on a completely different topic from the previous question that you asked – example- “Do you know how far the drive is from Newark to Tallahassee? About this time you should hear a dial tone. SCORE!
2. Auto Forward Company Executives
Research the company and find one department’s e-mail address or even better the individual e-mail address for a senior level executive with the company. Forward the e-mail to the individual, explain that you have asked to be removed from the e-mail list but, as of yet, this has not happened. Explain that you are now going to forward each and every e-mail you get from his/her company to them. More than likely you will get either an automated reply or a reply that states they don’t “handle” that department. That’s ok. Because now you are going to use your e-mail program and set up a mail message rule that will automatically forward each e-mail you receive from that company to the person that you contacted and then automatically delete it from your system. About the 4th forwarded e-mail the VP of Finance gets, you can bet it will be taken care of.
3. Terminal Hold
Again, act very interested in what they have to say. After about 1 minute, ask them if they can hold on a second. Put them on hold. Walk away from the phone. Take a walk around the block. The first time they will more than likely call again. Act as if you have no idea that they called before and again act interested. After another minute ask if you can put them on hold for just a second. Run to the store on an errand. Repeat as often as necessary – shouldn’t have to do this very many times.
4. Ask for explanations
Answer the phone and as soon as they tell you who they are (or ask for the owner) change into an alternate voice. If you can do an accent, that would be even better. Ask about their product but use your new accent and if you can change accents in the middle of speaking, that’s even better. Every time they ask you a question, pretend not to understand a particular word and ask them to explain what that word is. For instance, if they say they want you to subscribe to a magazine you would say “Subscreeepshune, what is word subscreepshune? I not fameeeeleure with zhis verd. Explain to me pleeeeeze.” I want to bet that after the 4th word inquiry (if you get that far) they will give up.
5. Bad connection
Similar to #4, you could act like you have a really bad connection. Talk loudly and ask them to repeat every sentence. Reply with variations of what they’ve told you. For instance, if they have said “We’d like to update our listing” then reply “My face needs misting?” – again, the more bizarre your “take” on the conversation is, all the better!
I hope you find these methods helpful and if you have any of your own that have been successful, please post it in the comments below as I’d love to add some to my collection.