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I love telemarketing calls.   Few things make me happier than picking up the phone, hearing a few seconds of silence, only to get pitched some product or service that I don't want.  It just makes my day.  It all makes me so happy that instead of the ‘DO NOT CALL' list, I wish they would invent the ‘PLEASE CALL' list.  I'd be the first one to sign up.

OK, absolutely none of that is true. 

Truth be told, I hate telemarketing calls just as much as well…everybody else.

But I won't yell at them.  Or be mean to them.

Why is that?

Because a job experience many years ago taught me a few things about telemarketers.

I worked for a small IT company, and one day I was sent out to a new client that had come from a referral.  They needed us to help set up their network, a couple servers, about 25 desktops, and a few printers printers, stuff that was pretty routine.  I got the name of the company and the location, made an appointment, and headed out the day of the appointment.

The name of the company didn't clue me in at all to what they did.  It's not like they were named ‘TELEMARKETING CENTRAL'.  It's been so long that the name escapes me, but it could have been any type of business.  So, when I got there and started finding out the details about the job, and that telemarketing was key, I was surprised and didn't know what to expect.

From a systems perspective, it was a pretty routine install.  There were a few extra cards that got plugged into the server to handle the phone lines, and there was an extra card in each desktop machine that allowed the person to talk and type all from the PC.  Besides that, it was pretty straightforward.

After things went live, we went back now and then for general support issues or changes that came up.  By that time, the call center was in full effect. And, as I watched them work, I learned even more:

  1. The people making the calls did not make the decisions.  They did not sign the contracts on what products or services to represent.
  2. The people who made those decisions were nowhere to be found.  The call centers are kept separate from the corporate offices, so while there are floor managers, you don't find the people that made the deals mixing with the people that had to do the deals.
  3. There's a reason for the pause.  There's a background system that auto-dials numbers and it will only transfer to a live agent if it hears a voice.  That explains why you will often pick up, say hello, and have a few seconds of silence before someone comes in to make their pitch.
  4. The script was right there.  People had to follow the script.  This included following up and making a second attempt even after the customer initially declines.
  5. If they don't follow the script, they could get fired.  Part of the job of the floor manager was to spend a portion of his or her day listening into calls and ensuring that the script was being followed.
  6. The people making the calls got no pleasure out of it.  They knew what they were doing.  They knew that the people they were calling most likely didn't want to hear from them.  But, they needed the work and were happy for the paycheck.  In talking with them, most were barely scraping by and needed the check.  Many had kids that the paycheck was providing food and clothing to.
  7. They got paid minimum wage.
  8. Turnover was high.  Nobody went into that field as a career goal.  The people in the corporate offices?  Maybe.  But, the people making the calls got out the second that they could.
  9. They let it roll off.  Mostly.  They get hung up on and yelled at a lot so much that they pretty much just let it slide off and move to the next call.  But, I can't imagine that it doesn't still get to them.

Essentially what I learned is that the people that made the calls are real people, and in all honesty, they hate making the calls just as much as you hate receiving them.  If you get mad at them or threaten them or belittle them, you're accomplishing absolutely nothing.

The best strategy is to be polite but firm.  You might have to say “No thank you” (and you should say thank you at least once) more than once, but if you think you're going to make a point by yelling at them, I can pretty much assure you that you're barking up the wrong tree.  If nothing else, make sure you are actively participating on the ‘Do Not Call registry'.

Have you ever lost it with a telemarketer?  I'm sure there are some horror stories out there.