Who writes these sales pitches?

From my LinkedIn page –

Telesales must be an incredibly hard thing to do, but I can’t help but think that the poor guys selling financial services to Dubai based ‘clients’ are hobbled from the start.

Spend any amount of time in Dubai and after a while your phone number will find its way into the hands of a company trying to sell financial services to expats. I’m sure other nationalities have similar approaches made to them, but I am only ever called up by Brits who sound as if they are in their late teens and have just left school (snob alert here – their way of speaking simply doesn’t fill me with confidence that they can handle my life savings. Perhaps this reflects badly on me, but I am the customer after all).

Given that these kids probably haven’t had much experience and are starting at the bottom, I don’t understand why their managers provide them with what must be the worse sales pitches in history.

Here’s the classic that was in vogue for a while.

“All right Chris, we met at the event the other week but I lost yer contact details, hence calling yourself now. Unfortunately me computer crashed and I lost me notes so I’m calling ya now. Do you have a pension plan ‘cos either way I’m sure I can help you optimise it.”

Let’s deconstruct that opening pitch, the aim of which is to persuade me to place my trust in the caller with my financial future.

It starts off being too familiar. You’re not selling me a pound of tomatoes and we aren’t friends either. Then we move onto a blatant lie, as we’ve never met. Then the sales person reveals they are so incompetent that they lost critical information and don’t know when to differentiate between ‘you and yourself’ (snob alert again). Finally, they reveal that their computer systems are utterly inadequate.

It’s not very convincing, mate.

The one doing the rounds at the moment consists of the same person calling, usually three times a day, with the following opening gambit –

Sales lady – “Hello Chris, I’ve just been on LinkedIn and I’ve noticed you’re a British expat living in Dubai, is that correct?”

Me – “I don’t need any financial services, thank you. I appreciate you are just doing your job, but please don’t call me again”.

Click, bzzzzz.

Three hours later, the same process is repeated. With the same person calling. Do customers have short memories or do they change their minds that quickly?

This is a lot better than the lie and the admission of incompetence and it naturally encourages you to engage in the conversation.

Both of the previous examples are still pretty poor. There’s an element of deceit or a feeling of manipulation – not the best way to start off a business relationship, especially for something this important.

These pitches still persist though – does this mean they are successful enough to keep using or that people cling to them in desperation? Even if I genuinely needed what they are selling, I’d be put off from the beginning. The statistics showing the success rates behind these calls would be fascinating to see.

If I’m pitching something – and I am certainly not a telesales ice to eskimos sales genius – I tend to think a bit of honesty and context is important. There’s no point saying something that will instantly get you caught out, or pretending your product is the ‘best’ or flattering the customer, or lying outright from the very start. Someone at these companies thinks that is a good idea though. Why?

It’s not all doom and gloom – a recent pitch to me went down very well and I was almost drawn in, partly because I quite enjoy being sold to when it’s done well.

The caller spoke clearly in standard English and instantly made the point that he didn’t expect me to buy anything from him based on a phone call, he was simply setting up appointments for someone who was an expert in the field. There were no arbitrary time limits (don’t miss out!) or claims that we’d met before (I lost my notes!) or assertions that I’d be living in penury for the rest of my life if I didn’t listen to him (I know it all!).

He didn’t try to position himself as my saviour, acknowledged I probably already had arrangements made, admitted these calls can be annoying, etc.

It was just honest, reasonable and… I nearly made an appointment. A much better experience, but!

Please, telesales financial services sellers – much as I find the process interesting, please stop calling me.

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