How Do You Handle it When a Company Has a No-Calls Policy?

in Objections, Screeners


Here’s an email I received from a fellow reader:

Art,

What do you do when the notes on an account tell you that the prospect has a policy of "no calls"?

I manage a team of telesales reps and we’ve got several accounts that are "no calls."  We keep going back because we know they are using a product just like ours, and are prospects with high potential. When there’s a policy of not accepting sales calls from ANY vendor–not just for our product–how would you suggest handling it?

We send emails and letters, as well as special sales fliers and the like. We usually try a call every 12-18 months just to see if the prospect has been replaced, or maybe we can get lucky and get through. Occasionally, we do get through based on the print material, and occasionally we get through because a volunteer or new staff member acting as screener doesn’t know about the policy.

Do you have any anecdotes, tips or magic bullets that you can share?

It’s always good to hear your perspective.

Thank you,
Chris Bitely
Marketing Manager
Center Point Large Print

OK, there you have it. I, and thousands of other readers will appreciate your response. Please post your responses here at the Blog. You’ll be able to see the other responses as they come in, and I’ll share many of them in my email newsletter next week, along with my own suggestions.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Nichols June 10, 2009 at 7:29 pm

This scenario is akin to leaving voice mail messages that are never returned. In both cases the prospects don’t respond because they haven’t been given a compelling reason to do so. Taken alone, the fact that a company uses a product like yours is not a very compelling reason to take calls from you or any alternative vendor.

You say that you have had occasional success getting through “based on the print material.” If that means you are postal mailing something, then why not mail more of it?

But instead of just mailing sales materials, you could include some kind of free offer that they can only get if they either call you back or visit your website and register.

I’ve found that the most cost-effective free offer is meaningful information that solves one or more of my target market’s problems that are directly or indirectly related to my productsand services, aka, an “info-premium.”

To be effective, an info-premium must truly be meaningful and not just a veiled sales pitch. You’ll have to invest some resources in creating it. You should make the info-premium available in PDF and MP3, and perhaps even video if it makes sense.

The good news is that if you plan it properly, you’ll only have to create the info-premium once, but you can use it again and again. And the delivery cost is next to nothing.

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Robert Pelletier June 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

My suggestion:
– send a sample or samples that the prospective client can use;
If your product is better than the competitor’s, you should get a call.
Thanks for reading me.
Rob
Quebec, Canada
Sales manager
Our 2009 sales are up 3% year to date, over 2008. 2008 was up 10% on 2007.

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Paul Rose June 11, 2009 at 2:59 am

The comments here make a lot of sense. We work in the promotional merchandise industry and recently we hand delivered a small selection of gifts to decision makers. Nothing too expensive, but it all had the personal touch.

When we call, we’re not making a “sales call”, we’re just calling to make sure that reception passed on our gift.

People tend to be a little more receptive once you give them a present! Sure you’re going to have to spend a little money, but if it helps you land that next big account, isn’t it worth it?

Hope that helps.

Paul J Rose
Merchandise Mania

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Aveenash (Rocky) Chirkoot June 11, 2009 at 3:18 am

Most often clients have a no calls policy because they are content with what they have, because of this some clients don’t realize that they are being given a raw deal until an alternate offer is made.

I believe that you should try, try and try again.

But in cases where there is no hope, and you believe that the prospect is really worth having, then perhaps take a look at what services or products your prospect is offering and if you require any of those look into a co-branding initiative. Giving them business is one way of getting their business….

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Ian Powell June 11, 2009 at 6:58 am

A good question – in most cases I might say move on to the next prospect if there is too much alchemy required and just keep them aware of your company – if and when they come back to review the market.

However I would like to understand better their definition of sales call. If it is a targeted call that is information rich with a proposition that is of value to that organisation then that can only be of benefit to them – why wouldn’t you take it?

I might be inclined to find out if that is a policy of the organisation or the one individual? Would they want their sales representatives to be blanket blocked in this fashion? I would then briefly & politely attempt to persuade them – 3 bullet points as to why they should take the call.

If this did not work I would then write a letter to the owner advising them (politely) of the situation and whether they approved of it and the potential missed opportunity etc. etc.

Obviously chasing both letters thoroughly afterwards.

You may gain some personal satisfaction from getting round your blocker and indeed get them to see you – but you also have a 50/50 chance of alienating them completely as well.

Having said that I probably would go down the letter route anyway on the basis that you currently have nothing to lose.

There is no silver bullet as far as I can see.

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Sam Brown June 11, 2009 at 7:12 am

I work in the very same environment. When I approach these accounts, I always look for a piece of information that I can share about a regulation change or compliance best practice. When they quickly discover that my calls are productive and may potentially save them time and money, I slowly begin to approach them with specific products that will help them. But, I always approach these customers with Customer Service not so much sales. The next thing you know, they are calling you with needs, because they know that you have helped them before. Have a Super Selling Day!

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Marc Zazeela June 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

If they do not accept calls, there is not too much you can do about that. You have to find another way to get your message across.

Testimonials are a powerful way for you to demonstrate how good your product or service is. Hearing positive feedback from their peers is often a very motivating force (keeping up with the Jones’s).

If you send print, try to include a few letters from your best customers. You can even write the text and ask them to sign it.

Even more powerful, is a video testimonial. See if you can get a few of your customers to say a few words about you and your company, on video. You can either email a short video file, or send it on a cd. That is unique and might get their attention.

Lastly, move on. There are more fish in the sea. Why spend time on fruitless endeavors when you could be making sales to people who WANT to buy?

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Dan Dobson June 11, 2009 at 9:01 am

If you are not Googling the heck out of your prospects and offering some personal humorous intro you are just part of the pack and like the million others out there who are mindlessly calling, emailing, etc. Creativity wins the day in this market

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Telemarketing Tim June 11, 2009 at 9:16 am

Art,

This is a response to your no call policy question. This is from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.

1.
Can I register my business phone number or a fax number?

The National Do Not Call Registry is only for personal phone numbers. Business-to-business calls and faxes are not covered by the National Do Not Call Registry.

Business phone numbers are not allowed on the Federal Do Not Call Registry. As long as you know it is a business phone number you can call it.

I would not recommend calling it several times a week. The first time that they say put me on your do not call list you have to stop. You get one bite of the apple.

I very much enjoy reading your emails I subscribe to. The recorded sale calls attempts to you that you send wavs of are great.

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Nick Lucas June 11, 2009 at 9:20 am

Move on. If they don’t want to talk to you why waste your time?

I very much enjoy reading your emails I subscribe to. The recorded sale calls attempts to you that you send wavs of are great.

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Bob Tait June 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I go to the local Goodwill and purchase a bunch of children s shoes then when I come across this situation I put one shoe in a small box and along with a personally written note say “It’s me just trying to get my foot in the door”
It works wonders and makes people laugh, I am Affectionately referred to as the “The shoe guy”
Good selling!

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Chris Bitely June 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Thanks to Art for providing the forum and thanks to each of you for providing your replies – including a phone call from one reader.

I’d like to know specifics from anyone who has been successful. I love the concepts and some of them have my brain moving in the right creative direction. But, to any of you, what have you actually done that worked?

Chris Bitely (original questioner)

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Julie Cook June 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I worked at a piano festival as the mktg. director, and wouldn’t return the calls of a radio sales rep because we were swamped with just weeks to go before this huge 3-week event unfolded. I thought his station didn’t fit my mktg. mix and had a hard time saying no–what a lot of my customers now do to me–so I just didn’t call him back. He got through when he sent me a beautiful wind-up piano music box. He got my attention, and I called him back, and ended up spending thousands of dollars with him. So if your client has great potential, send him something cool that will get his attention.

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Woz from Oz June 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm

The no-call policy is known by those involved in the calls. That is, the front desk/switch gatekeepers. Your decision maker may not even be aware of the policy.

I try to avoid these gatekeepers in a variety of ways:
Call right on start of business or lunchtime & often get a novice answering in the gatekeeper’s place. Dial a different numeral at the end of the phone number. This can sometimes get you through to someone within the organization who will forward the call &/or give you the right person’s extension. ‘No-calls’ often means ‘no-names’ also. To get the right name without being a threat, I say that I am posting information & ask for the name AND ADDRESS. Or press the option to “Accounts” or “Sales” & ask them.

Just a few thoughts that may help.

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Michael Musolf June 12, 2009 at 7:51 am

This requires some work and isn’t cheap, but effective. We purchased a couple ipods to send to decision makers on our A list. We had them inscribed with our company name and tag line then recorded a brief, personalized message on them. We included instructions on how to play the message. We were able to set appointments with almost everyone we sent the ipos to.

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Jeff Kirchman June 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm

When I have a prospect that won’t take a call, I’ve often had success contacting someone else in the organization. Typically I’ll call and ask for the Sales Department. It’s exceedingly rare that a company is going to heavily screen people calling it to potentially do business with them. Once I get a person on the line — someone who’s not paid to block me and may be unaware of the target’s ‘no-call’ policy — I play the old “I’m sorry, I was trying to reach Bill Prospect; can you transfer me?” I may also use the opportunity to ask a few questions about the company and its marketing approaches/objectives. The sales squad may not have decision-making authority, but they know what’s working and what’s not. Finally, an internal transfer is much more likely to be picked up by the target than one that’s coming through reception.

This end-run approach does run the risk of alienating some prospects, certainly. But the way I see it, if they get irritated enough to avoid doing business with you as the result of something like this, your chances of selling them anything was infinitely small anyways.

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Beetle Bob June 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

I completly agree with a number of resondents who say move on to someone that will listen to you. I would continue with periodic (once or twice a year) calls to find out if policy or buying authority changes. Other than that, there must be other businesses to call or you’re really in trouble.

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Michael Pedone June 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

With all of the information available today online (linkedin, twitter, their company website etc) chances are if you feel strongly that this is a company worth chasing you can find out who the decision maker is that you need to speak with and get their direct line or email. An email should be just like your opener, short to the point and create interest, not resistance and then have a call to action.

And if that doesn’t work, try getting familiar with some of their linkedin contacts (or some of their contacts from other social media sites) and strike up a conversation with them and see if you can have them introduce you. Referrals are some of the best door openers anyway.

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Dan Dobson June 18, 2009 at 11:39 am

I have used this cartoon for years very effectively. Actually had it printed on the back side of my business cards at one point in my career. Very situational so you have to assess very carefully when to use it as it can offend if not offered humorously. Timing is essential
http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/G/General_Custer.asp

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Ron Tomlin June 19, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Proverbs 18:15
Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact they look for them.

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