Man with telephone away from ear

I can tell everyone a quick and easy answer to stopping cold calls and emails from salespeople constantly bothering you. Well actually maybe I can’t but I can at least share your pain and make you feel better about it…

The Pain

Let me guess, in fact, I don’t even have to guess – I know from bitter experience. As an IT manager, you’ve had someone call you at least once this week asking whether you deal with the company mobile phones and trying to get your contract date renewal out of you, you’ve had someone call and ask you about toner cartridges, someone else talking about disaster recovery planning and someone asking you some abstract question like what your storage strategy is.

Don’t get me started about spurious surveys too! They extract all the information from you and fire back to dozens of sales companies and you end up increasing your own call volume exponentially.

This all going on when there’s a queue at your door because the desktop or server fleet you’ve been telling everyone has been end of life for three years has finally reached its eight anniversary and decided to stop working altogether.

You’re trying to be polite but monosyllabic to the salesperson, hoping they’ll take the hint with your grunts, you’re even holding the phone away from your ear or on speaker phone hoping the echo will give them a hint too. They’re not taking the hints and they’re still talking, not engaging you and just wasting their time and yours.

Also this week, you’ve had someone emailing you, claiming that the receptionist said it was okay to email you – but being vague as to where they’ve got your email address from. Even though you’re absolutely sure that your own staff have been told several times that they’re not under any circumstances to give your name or even your email address out under pain of death or revocation of lunchtime internet access. (My personal favourite is blocking online fashion websites for receptionists who step out of line.)

You know, they know, everyone knows that they acquired your name, email address and other details. It was from their mate Jeff who took a customer list from a company that you do deal with and it’s gone round the houses and now someone called Bob and his mother has a copy to spam you with.

What we do

I am not going to say that Unleashed is different on this one, in today’s economic conditions everyone is just trying to get to their next business opportunity in order to keep their business growing. The way we do sales is not all that dissimilar to other companies, we’re perhaps more long term relationship focussed than most, but the business analyst in me would have to say the sales process is pretty much for all IT companies.

How we do differ is what we talk about. My experiences being an IT manager have certainly influenced what I want us to talk about – we go out of our way to find new products that are more cost effective, more innovative and solve problems that were previously unsolvable. I’d hope our sales team is more educational, than pushy. We have a host of products from new vendors such as Scale Computing, Nutanix and Simplivity as well as established firms such as Hitachi, Cisco and Microsoft. We pride ourselves on looking out for different technologies that solve a certain problem. If you’re struggling to virtualise under budget for example, then we probably have something that can do it.

We’re experimenting with various ways of getting that message across, but until we have a major eureka moment, I’m afraid traditional sales is here to say. The best we can do is not be pushy and try and inform you of what we do with the genuine enthusiasm we have for it.

Think Differently

My advancing years are perhaps bestowing either madness or wisdom upon me – believe it or not even as an IT company we still get people selling to us! My tactic has really changed, after all I can’t sell absolutely everything, and I have to evaluate each product as to where it sits with what we do. My tactic is to let the salesperson do their ‘elevator pitch’ if they can’t explain what they do or sell in five minutes then they’ve lost me. If they have something of interest then, I’ll still go off and do my research – like any good IT manager would. If I find they’ve told no lies, not misrepresented themselves then I will speak to them again – but on my own terms. After all – if I blocked all sales calls, as annoying as they can be, I may miss something that may be better than sliced bread!

So a few readers may be a bit dissapointed right now, thinking ‘I thought he was going to tell us how to stop the calls,’ unfortunately I can’t – the only thing I can do is open up the idea that you can change the way you feel about them.  Some genuinely will be educational – stuff you didn’t know that you can learn from.  Others will be your trashy mobile phone companies and surveys.  I’m not saying take all calls, but not all the callers are the same.

If you’ve stumbled onto this article from one of our website through one of our marketing campaigns, I guess my sure fire way of stopping our cold calls and emails is to speak to us – at least then they won’t be cold anymore! :-) As I’ve said on several blog entries, we’re just looking to educate people about what we’re doing, there’s no tactics or pressure, we want a relationship where our clients make the tea and we bring the biscuits. Even if you have no budget, nothing going on and are at the deepest pit of despair with your infrastructure, we’ll listen and do our best to help.