Another Warm Lead

Saturday morning, I sat in my pajamas, sipping strong, black coffee and petting Ms. Kitty Cat. The telephone rang. Usually on a Saturday morning, I screen my calls, but this morning, expecting a friend, I picked up.

The caller was not my expected friend. She was a financial advisor from American Express. She asked if I had received the mailing I'd requested.

Wendy: I didn't request a mailing.

Caller: Did you receive a mailing?

Wendy: I don't know.

Caller: It was from American Express, outlining our financial products.

Wendy: I get a lot of mail.

Caller: So, you're not interested?

Wendy: You should look at a program called Cold Calling College.

Caller: This is a "warm call."

We said our good-byes as I choked back hysterical laughter. "Warm Call" ? "Cold Call" ? However else you might care to categorize it, this was a Failed Call!

I was a qualified prospect. I was not necessarily uninterested. What went wrong?

This caller wanted me, the prospect, to do all of the work. She assumed that because the call was (in her mind only!) a "warm call," I was interested in the products, knowledgeable about the products and ready to move to the next step. Nothing could have been further from the truth! She made no effort to entice or interest me-instead, we had a conversation about whether or not I had received sales literature!

And then, moving from unbelievable to mind-boggling, this caller assumed rejection! (A standard closing technique is to "assume the sale" and proceed accordingly.) She had it backwards. Because I was not particularly interested in sales literature, she assumed without any questions or attempts to discover what my interests, wants or needs might be that I was saying "no."

This (non)sales process was also unwieldy. Evidently, someone else had originally called me-I don't remember-and sent out some sales literature-I don't remember. What a waste of time and resources! I guess American Express can afford it. You and I cannot!

So, here's the Master Plan for introductory calls:

1. Determine the goal of your phone call.
2. Set yourself up as an expert.
3. Articulate customer-centered benefits.
4. Ask for what you want (see #1 above-Determine the goal).
5. Use sales literature as a backup only. Do not use it as an introduction (see story above).

© 2004 Wendy Weiss


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