How to Have Fun with Sales Callers

3 mins. to read
How to Have Fun with Sales Callers

Some sales people came to my door once when I was having a party. They had clipboards and I’ve no idea what they were selling. I only opened the door because I was expecting people. “I hope we’re not interrupting your evening”, said one of them with a big salesy smile on. “Don’t worry, you’re not” I said, as I nudged the heavy door with one finger so it closed itself in their faces at perfect comedy speed, while  I wore a big smug smile, and returned to my guests with a great front door story.

I get lots of marketing calls from financial companies, as I’m sure many of you do too. They’re usually some sort of sales pitch which has evolved to elicit a particular answer through a series of loaded questions. This leads to what is known in the sales industry as the ‘assumptive close’, since by this point you’ve basically already just said ‘yes’. To be fair, the calls may well have be solicited, even unintentionally, by you, but don’t think for one moment that some aren’t. A friend of mine had a BT line installed and was cold called by a sales person using the uniquely incorrect spelling of their name that only BT had from the mistyped order just days before. The call went along the lines of “we’re calling about your accident…” They had some fun with it on the second and third calls from different sales people. Pretending to remember then forget about it and so on and claiming it was the accident that had made it hard to remember. Hours of fun.

I had some chap on the phone this morning from some so-called consultancy (a fun word for anagrams, by the way). Given he’s trying to sell, it would make sense not to ask if I’m Andrian when introducing himself, as my real name is Adrian. He ignored my correction and instead switched to using half of my surname. The opening gambit was asking if I’m in the markets. “Since 1991”, I replied. Apparently, that means I’ve been doing it “for a while” he told me in a somewhat dismissive tone. Hmmm. He then asked how am I finding it in these challenging market conditions? “These aren’t challenging market conditions” I replied. “The markets are not performing, so making Alpha is relatively easy.” I don’t think he knows what Alpha is. It’s basically any profit you make by out-performing the underlying index of a market, a figure known as Beta. He then said that a lot of investors were finding current conditions hard. I came down hard on that. “They’re not finding it hard because of market conditions, they’re finding it hard because they don’t have the proper training. Markets aren’t difficult, they’re just different”

I pointed out that I’m a financial journalist writing opinionated pieces on private investing, so I’d probably disagree with anything he was likely to say. He then came out with a classic “well you’re still on the outside looking in…” I interrupted him “this conversation is over chap” and hung up. For those of you that get lots of calls that you don’t want, but you do get them because you gave your details to get some free report or whatever, there are sites such as which is a reverse search directory where you can type in any number, and chances are if it’s a sales company then someone will have posted who they are. Now you can vet without answering if that’s what you prefer.

For those who have the time and inclination, as I often do myself, to have a really good argument (I was a bit busy this morning for that) then have a gecko at my article about Training from the October Master Investor Magazine. At the end of the article, on page 82, I put a list of questions to ask ‘trainers’, and many of them can be tailored for phone calls, as they’ll be making similar, even vaguer, claims. It gives an idea of the style of question to ask. Most telesales people know nothing about the product they’re selling. Call centres and telesales generally are the reason we have traffic humps. It’s to stop evolution taking out the weak stock, as they’re now required for this kind of work. And reality TV shows.

Look, the point is you can add entertainment value to these sorts of calls if you wish. Courtesy costs nothing, but neither does taking the piss out of people and it’s WAY more fun!

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