Here’s one reason why answering machines are preferable

Gecko Jones 112I received a call on my home phone from someone who said she was a sales rep for H&R Block.

  • She asked for someone who wasn’t me.
  • I barely got the words out “There’s no one…” when she very rapidly muttered something like “well, this is the number I have” and immediately (and I mean immediately, with no delay or hesitation) said “So, what product or service do you use to file your taxes?”

My sense was this was a planned cold call. She wasn’t really looking for someone with the name she dropped. Just dialing numbers and going through a faux request for someone she knew wasn’t there. It was a way, at least in her mind or those who gave her instructions, of trying to trick callees into lowering their guard and becoming sales prospects.

The entire process left me thinking “How amateurish?”. I wondered “Do they really find that people they call are duped into falling for this tactic?” Is it a way to dodge the Do Not Call process?

Oddly, when I tweeted that I would be posting this story, someone from H&R Block’s Twitter account reached out to ask what had happenned to me. I responded, but never heard back.

At least one of these mis-steps is that company’s fault. Perhaps both.

Either way, your Sales & Marketing teams can learn lessons that will improve your business:

  1. If it’s a cold call, be professional about it.
  2. If you’re calling residences, respect the Do Not Call system. When that eliminates your telemarketing approach, get someone who understands marketing to help with online and offline promotions, so you don’t have to make these types of calls.
  3. If you have no intention of following up to someone’s response to your inquiry, don’t bother inquiring.

Oh, gotta go. My phone’s ringing.

Be Sociable, Share!
    Posted in Marketing Tactics, Real World, Sales Team | Comments Off

    A simple business improvement for freelancers & agencies

    Gecko Jones 101In growing businesses, Marketing executives don’t always have full-time, in-house resources for vital projects and programs they need to launch or nurture.

    Plus, when those types of needs are intermittent or part-time, the logical approach is to outsource the assignments.

    I rarely come across freelance graphics designers or print/digital/other agencies who aren’t open to taking on a new client. Finding new clients is hard enough without mishandling opportunities that come to you.

    Over the years, and even over the last few months, I’ve reached out to people who became known to me through referrals. And, amazing as it may sound, at least half of them failed to return my call, reply to my email, or respond to the inquiry form I completed on their website.

    Some of the non-immediate responders, though not all, eventually reach back with excuses like “It was a holiday week”, or “I was on vacation”, or “I’ve been busy wrapping up other business”. I seriously doubt a 3 minute phone call (“Can we talk at length next week?”) or email (“This is my one getaway week for the year. I will contact you immediately upon my return to the office.”) is impossible to fit in. The payback could be immense.

    Many who get into freelance work or start their own agencies are creative types with minimal business, self-promotion or sales skills. I get it. Nevertheless, your business is predicated on having clients. Do you get that?

    Be Sociable, Share!
      Posted in Business Development, Marketing, Marketing Tactics, Real World | Comments Off

      The vital, missing ingredient in most performance appraisals

      Gecko Jones 128Most discussions surrounding the level of work being done by the employee being evaluated relate to the individual’s personal activities.

      That’s fine, but a factor that needs to be included in annual assessments is the level of teamwork that person demonstrates daily.

      It could be teamwork with people in other departments, properly helping in shared efforts with those in the same group, implementing management directives or coordinating with liaisons in other companies.

      If you can’t identify how an employee has one or more of these responsibilities, you either don’t know what it takes for their efforts to result in a true payoff for the organization, or you have someone who is not very crucial to the success of your business.

      Be Sociable, Share!
        Posted in Staff Issues | Comments Off

        Do you know why you’re hiring?

        Gecko Jones 127An association asked a C-level marketing professional to consider joining their Board and serve as their Director of Marketing (both volunteer positions). He met with several Board members and, though they suggested no precise goals, he knew quickly what his initial goals would be:

        1. Double membership within 6 months
        2. Double average meeting attendance within 6 months
        3. Eliminate the horrible mistakes they were making in email announcements (two different meeting dates listed in the subject and body copy, poor wording, etc.)

        In the interview process, it became apparent they had one or two other candidates. Both were quite junior and unlikely to provide any real leadership, or have proven skills.

        Ridiculously, the Executive Director sent an email to each, mentioning a bit of work that was needed immediately. Was that a test to see who would grab it? What if all ran with it? That would be a waste of redundant effort. Regardless, what would this actually prove?

        The executive withdrew from the silly competition and they signed up one of the junior alternatives. Guess what happened next? Subsequent mass emails promoting upcoming events were poorly written. And, I suspect they have made no progress in driving new membership or boosting conference attendance.

        If you’re looking for leadership, hire a leader. If you trivialize the hiring process, it’s very possible you don’t know how to screen and hire for the job that’s open. Ultimately, you are responsible for knowing who to hire, based on what you want to accomplish.

        Be Sociable, Share!
          Posted in Staff Issues | Comments Off

          When business goals work against you

          Gecko Jones 126Raising the bar by establishing aggressive goals for each department, and the company overall, is more than just wishful thinking.

          It’s a way CEOs can get their teams to step up their productivity and creativity for the betterment of the business.

          Increases in revenues, for example, might be expected to reach 10% per year in some industries, or 100% in others. There’s no one right answer and the team in place is as much a factor in what’s attainable as the market, your competition, etc.

          However, in one company, I continuously saw the CEO set goals that went beyond reasonable. The sales team constantly hit between 80% and 95% of the objectives, but the goals were not logical. The CEO would chide his very capable VP Sales by introducing him as “Mr. 95%”.

          It served to demoralize the executive and embarrass those reporting to him (as they felt responsible for missing his assigned targets). Even without using the ridiculous nickname, the CEO had set goals that were not attainable. They served to discourage instead of motivate the company.

          I’ve seen some objectives that were so silly, the entire company walked out of annual kick-off meetings rolling their eyes and ignoring discussion. Are your goals high, but sane?

          Be Sociable, Share!
            Posted in Real World, Staff Issues | Comments Off