When a stranger calls…

When a stranger calls…

Telemarketing and cold-calling

If you’re a South African with a cell phone number, there is a 99.9% chance that you’ve been personally victimized by the horror known as “cold-calling”. “Hello, may I please speak with…” How did they know your name? That typical call centre opening line that has us hitting “end call” quicker than Eskom can turn off the lights. What started as an innocent call from an unknown number, ends in tragedy – a frustrated potential customer and a terrified sales agent. 

A cold call from a tele-sales marketer usually doesn’t end well. The dreaded unscheduled call from a stranger looking to sell you something you neither need nor have the time to want. A typical response is “Where did you get my number from!!?” which usually leaves the quivering agent no other option but to hang up.

If you’re still honestly asking yourself this question, the answer lies in your digital footprint. Whether you’ve logged onto an email account, subscribed to a newsletter or enjoyed the perks of shopping online, ten to one your details have been harvested into some contact sheet which becomes a distribution list, sold to the highest bidder. You cannot ghost it!

If data is the quintessential asset that major retail and telemarketing companies rely on to generate leads and sales, this poses an even scarier question? Why do we react the way we do, taking our frustrations out on the poor sales agent who, let’s face it, is only doing their job? True, some agents are far more spirited than others, but perhaps it’s time to take a deeper look behind the head piece in order to see who the real monster is.

Three Reasons to Change your Tone:

1. Bridging the Unemployment and Skills Gap

Telemarketing companies and call centres are generally outsourced by bigger corporates to fulfil a number of functions, including customer care, technical and general support, and of course, sales drives for new products and services. Before a candidate even attempts their first call, they must go through a rigorous training period in order to get them market- ready. This is traditionally done through internal product and skills development programmes, or through digital correspondence such as e-learning platforms.  

Telemarketing and call centres are essentially contributing to our economy in two massive ways. Firstly, by creating job opportunities to a particular demographic of young individuals who may not have had the luxury of studying a specialised skill at a tertiary level. Secondly, uplifting youth with skills and development programmes that they previously did not have access to.  

2. The next Jerry McGuire

Show me the money! A call centre is the perfect platform for any young individual looking to advance their career as a world class salesperson. A sales environment effectively teaches one how to deal with customers in a professional manner, effectively manage their own time by setting targets and deadlines, as well as effective communication skills. Just like waitering and bartending, earnings are based on how well you interact with your market and being able to convince them into buying something they don’t really need.  

A salesperson typically has a natural gift-of-the-gab, which makes the Call Centre environment the perfect place to grow and nurture one’s negotiation skills. It’s also a major confidence builder. If you are able to survive that amount of rejection on a daily basis and still walk away with a smile, then you just could be the next Jerry McGuire.  

3. Going Off script

The biggest problem with sales agent interactions, like most bad movies or theatre productions, is the script. Most of these scripted tele-dramas come across as extremely inauthentic, and sometimes aggressive, which leaves the agent in a conundrum: do they follow the book word for word or improvise in order to make a more meaningful connection with their customer, and thus, a sale?

In the digi-age of emojis, WhatsApp’s and mails, the way we communicate with one another has changed drastically, so much so that when we get an unexpected call, we panic. There is a very short window period between answering the phone and making a connection with a customer. If that means throwing the book and going rogue from time to time, then so be it.

Be kind. Re-wind!

While cold and sales calls may feel like the ultimate invasion of privacy, it is unfortunately the price we pay for living in a convenient, digital world. While the POPI and data protection acts continue to develop, it’s going to be a while before we feel completely safe again. Until then, be kind and remember that there is a human being on the other end of the phone who is after all, just doing their job. 

For more information about Sales Call Centre Agents positions in 2020, read about Kwena’s recruitment services, or visit our job portal on www.kwena.net