I receive numerous calls from telephone company sales representatives who attempt to sell me a variety of business services. You’d think these companies were customer relationship management (CRM) experts.
Sometimes they offer long distance or local services, at other times they pitch assorted items intended to be “new”, “better”, “faster”, and “cheaper”. These calls are almost always the same in that the salesperson is neither familiar with me as a consumer nor interested in me as an individual. These are “cold” calls.
The salesperson sounds rushed as he reads a script with a tone of voice that lacks enthusiasm and energy. A monotone presentation does nothing to elicit my interest in their products or services. I can sense that the caller is just waiting for me to either hang up or interrupt them so that they can make their next wayward cold call. Makes me wonder: does anyone understand CRM?
In the background I can hear other callers making similar halfhearted attempts to sell to other prospects, all in a robotic-sounding working environment. This background noise transmits a vocal image to anyone listening. Unfortunately, it is not one that is appealing. My imagination conjures up a boiler room operation that is poorly lit and ventilated and filled with a cacophony of sales pitches. In response, I think to myself “What a shame. I feel so sorry for this poor guy.” I soon interrupt the seller to express my disinterest in his product or service and quickly close the call.
These calls are almost always the same in that the salesperson is neither familiar with me as a consumer nor interested in me as an individual. These are “cold” calls. The salesperson sounds rushed as he reads a script with a tone of voice that lacks enthusiasm and energy.
In the current world of customer relationship management (CRM), one would think that sellers maintain a profile on me, i.e., my buying patterns and preferences, in order to slant their pitch with information that might catch my attention. That is not the norm in most cases.
And then it happened. I recently received a sales call from Sarah, a representative from the financial institution that handles my company’s corporate gold credit card. Her presentation was terrific. Sarah’s voice was alive with an attitude that cried out, “I’m calling you about the best thing since sliced bread.” Her pace was deliberate and friendly. I did not hear any background telephone exchanges. It was just Sarah and I in a conversation, one on one. What a nice and personal business setting!
Not only did Sarah maintain her composure and demeanor, she had a sales pitch that caught my interest. Her company had done their homework. Based on my credit card transactions, they knew which airlines I flew frequently, the hotels where I lodged, and even which airport executive lounges where I maintained membership. Sarah had a profile on me and her script was designed to capture my interest.
Following her greeting and polite inquiry into my company’s business activities, Sarah informed me that she could upgrade me from a gold to a platinum corporate credit card. One of the upgrade perks was an enhancement of my airport travel comfort. That certainly piqued by interest. Any comfort extras are an added luxury to a frequent traveler such as me.
Sarah continued by confirming my current single airport executive lounge membership. She noted that a platinum upgrade would give me membership access to three additional airport executive lounges. The three lounges were all with airlines that I had traveled in the past and getting access to them would be a rewarding benefit. Sarah had engaged me in a constructive interaction and clearly understood that she first needed to build a rapport with me before I would have an interest in buying something. The marketing program at her company understood that investing in call center ergonomics and design fosters a quiet and respectful business environment that would yield more closed sales.
I do not buy things, I buy what things can do for me.
Sarah was trained, prepared, and equipped with valuable information about her prospects. That knowledge enabled Sarah to leverage the reality that, as a business person, I do not buy things, I buy what things can do for me. In this case, what I purchased were more travel perks. My platinum upgrade cost more than a gold card, but it is a fraction of the cost of membership at the three addition airport executive lounges.
This is the goal of customer relationship management: The potential to up-sell a current customer base – such as upgrading gold corporate members to platinum. As such, it is a valuable business asset. The up-selling potential is contingent upon the relationship a company has with its customers and the amount of planning and infrastructure invested in conveying a positive vocal image. The first moments of an up-selling telephone call will mark the difference between enhancing and diminishing the business relationship.
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