I don’t blame you for hating them, (gulp) I mean us.
The first part of any problem is admitting you have one.
I am the faceless voice on the end of your line at 3:13pm asking if I can schedule 30 minutes on your calendar in the next two weeks to show you (let me know if this sounds familiar) “the value my company can provide you.”
Here is the dirty secret. I don’t like it any more than you do. That first few seconds when you pick up the phone, realize you’ve answered a cold call and your tone shifts to revulsion is an extremely awkward moment. Even more awkward than when I scored a goal against my own team in 8th grade with my Dad watching 10 feet away.
The thing is I’m a bit of an introvert so of course I went into a profession where I get to talk to annoyed strangers every day. I’m really not trying to ruin your day. I’ve researched your company. I have a service of genuine value. I’m calling at 9:18 am so hopefully, you’ve had enough time to get your coffee, address any urgent emails, reflect on the latest episode of Cobra Kai and so forth.
Can we agree on a couple things?
- I am not a huge fan of making these calls
- You don’t like receiving these calls
- If I don’t make them, I can’t do my job
- I’m guessing there is some version of me at your company doing the same thing?
Here is the other thing. Besides being somewhat shy and really bad at soccer, I genuinely like helping clients especially when I am helping to solve business issues with technology. That’s why it makes it so gratifying when one of you does pick up the phone and takes my call. Hopefully you see some value in our conversation. After that it’s a simple matter of setting up the follow-up meeting, the discovery meetings, the presentation meeting, the second round of discovery meetings because the scope changed, meeting with your executives, if you’re the executives meeting with your team, setting up a 30 day POC, working with legal, procurement, negotiating pricing, terms, delivery, waiting 6-9 months because the project was put on hold, rinse repeat, finally getting the verbal, waiting the obligatory 2-4 weeks for the actual signature/e-signature/PO/ DocuSign, and then the fun begins, the installation, the implementation, the transitions and of course the headaches.
I do know one thing after years in this business. If there is an installation there will be problems, missed dates, cutover issues, vendor mishaps, it is unfortunately inevitable. If you’re a multinational it could be exponentially worse. This is a major reason a lot of clients are so gun shy about getting off platforms they truly hate. Unlike cold calling, helping clients weather these storms is one of my favorite parts of the job. In these instances, a reverse “cold call” scenario happens. Now the client is calling, texting, emailing me and unless I’m asleep or in the shower I’m always answering. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping my clients. And its only after something goes horribly wrong (and it will, it always will) and I’m always there for them that I notice their demeanor changes again. Once they know they have a partner they can trust who is responsive, diligent and transparent they go from exasperated to still anxious but calmer. Like having a great mechanic, you can trust. These are when my lifelong business relationships truly get built.
So maybe the next time you get that call, email, LinkedIn message etc. be 8% less acerbic and a little more understanding. Like your team we’re trying to do our jobs, feed our families and help our companies. Also maybe, just maybe that voice on the other end of the line genuinely cares about helping your business and will be the partner that jumps in the trenches with you during the best and worst times.
As I finish typing and close my laptop my work line rings. It’s 6:45pm on a Friday but I’m here to help. Lifelong partnerships aren’t built just during business hours. I pick up the call.
The robotic voice launches as soon as I say hello –
“We have an urgent notification about your car’s warranty……”