I had a woman call me several weeks ago. It was a cold call. She was very personable, clearly skilled, and comfortable with engaging strangers in phone calls. She sounded genuine.
She explained that her boss, the new manager of a copier/print/fax company in town, wanted to stop by and visit with me. “Not to sell me anything but she was new to our city and had heard lots of good things about me and my business, so she just wanted to meet me and introduce herself.”
The woman promised the visit would not take more than ten minutes.
I suppose I should have been very flattered but I’ve heard this type of pitch too many times before. It is a play on “relationship selling.” Well played, but still a play.
What was different this time is how well the woman on the phone delivered the call. I had no interest in a meeting. I didn’t want to waste my time or theirs. But as a student of communication, I was interested in the caller’s background because of the comfort of her delivery. So I struck up a conversation with her.
We talked about ten minutes and she was just as personable. And bright, as she pointed out that in the time I had spent on our call, I could have just as easily spent that time with her boss (i.e., politely making it clear I did have time to visit).
I stuck to my guns about not wanting a meeting but I assured the caller that I make a point to regularly attend a number of business networking events in town. Since her boss was out networking too, I said that if she really wanted to visit with me, she could just find me at one of these events and it would save her from a trip to my office as well. The woman agreed to pass this information along.
Two months pass and the woman caller calls me back. She starts the same conversation and clearly has no recollection that we’d talked before. It was the same conversation, with no reference to the last call. So I reminded her of our prior discussion. It was clear she then remembered me AND knew that no matter how comfortable she is with the calls, she was busted that it was scripted.
I was nice and we chatted briefly. She recovered well. Her boss “still really wanted to meet me.” I knew this company was sponsoring an event I was attending in the next week or so. It would not be crowded, probably only about thirty people. I repeated, if she really wants to meet me, I’ll at the event. She said she’d let her boss know I’d be there.
The event comes around. I make a point to repeatedly stand near “the boss that couldn’t wait to meet me.” I had already decided that I’d be visible, keep my name tag easy to read, but not start the conversation. I even make a point to stand quietly in a small circle of people chatting with “the boss.”
You know what “the boss that couldn’t wait to meet me” said to me? Nothing. Not a word. She was not rude, she just wasn’t someone that “couldn’t wait to meet me” as the script had claimed. She had no idea who I was, and no idea her staff had called me twice to setup a meeting. And she was not looking for me.
I Never heard from any of them again. Just as well because as I suspected, it was just a process, not something as genuine as it first sounded. And I’m okay with that. Processes are good. Sales is hard and needs a structure.
The lesson in this is the danger that when you are gaming people or telling little lies, you may get busted. And with that bust so goes your credibility.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn is also the founder, and Senior Consultant, of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.
© Copyright 2014. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111