Nuisance or Friend – it’s up to you

Coldcall Every day, I get a call from someone saying, "Hi, I’m just calling you back to see if you want to do business with me."   Okay, they don’t quite say it in those words, but that’s what they mean.

I’ve already spoken to them. I know what they do. And if I had needed it, I would have called them.  They’re offering no new information.  But, I got put on their calendar for a call back or follow up e-mail.

Now they’re just being a pest.  I understand they’re just doing their job, trying to make a sale. Here’s the problem. We live in a "what’s in it for me" world and I am as jaded as any other consumer. When they call with "are you doing any printing that we could bid on" they aren’t thinking about me.  They are thinking about their own sales goals and needs.

Imagine how I’d welcome their call if they opened with "one of my clients is looking for an agency. I’d like to introduce you to them," or "I saw an article on branding that I think you’d enjoy.  Can I e-mail it to you?"  Rather than me being frustrated that they keep calling, now I’d welcome their call because I know there’s something in it for me, along with their sales pitch.

We shouldn’t be cold calling.  We should be relationship building.  And when we care about the relationship, we aren’t in it just for ourselves.  Don’t pick up the phone without first thinking about the person you’re calling

Demonstrate that you know their business and care about it by giving before you get. There’s no quicker way to shift from nuisance to welcome caller.

So come on, let’s create a list together.  I’ll add responses/suggestions to the end of this post.  What can you offer to strengthen the relationship?  Industry news?  A new business lead? An article of interest?

10 comments on “Nuisance or Friend – it’s up to you

  1. Jeff Gwynne says:


    Something us service guys deal with all the time.

    You mention a somethingb(“I saw an article on branding that I think you’d enjoy.”) that we call the Random Follow-Up or RFU. An RFU comes after the introductory e-mails/calls and “follow-up with me in a month”‘s and consists of an e-mail with a link or text of interest. An RFU could reference to a blog post you just wrote, be a link to an announcement they made (with a congratulations) or call out some industry news that has to do with their business. There are three traits of an RFU – 1.) it has to do with them, 2.) it says nothing about buying what I’m selling and 3.) it’s random, of course.

  2. Robyn says:

    Drew, if someone is fairly new to marketing and is merely following up, you offer great strategies to provide value to the possible client. Otherwise, they’ll get nowhere.

    Thanks for such practical insights post after post.

  3. Jeff,

    You describe something we recommend our clients do — make a connection that matters to the prospect, not to you.

    And I love the randomness of it. You reach out when you have something to say, not because it’s the 3rd of the month.

    Even if they recognize that it’s part of the plan, if you are genuine and have something relevant to say — they’ll be compelled to listen.


  4. Suzie,

    “Yesterday’s cold calling is today’s SPAM.”

    That is a perfect way of describing it. People have protection (Do Not Call list) at home, but we’re very vulnerable at the office.

    If someone calls with something of value, most people will listen. But if your only goal is to sell something to someone….in most cases, you are going to get a chilly reception.


  5. Robyn,

    You are very, very kind. Thank you.


  6. Debra Murphy says:

    Great post Drew. The best way for people to strengthen the relationship with me (and vice versa) is to help someone else succeed. Offering a referral is best, but a strategic alliance opportunity to work together on a project that drives business for both (fusion marketing activities) is also a great way to strengthen your relationship. This type of marketing is easy but people forget. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Debra,

    There are many ways to demonstrate your value before you try to stick your hand into someone’s pocket, I agree.

    There’s nothing wrong with selling. You just need to do it in the right “order.”


  8. Gene Sower says:

    Sometimes, in addition to calling them about an article I read that they might find useful, I’ll think of something I can ask their help or advice on. People like to feel important and usually want to be helpful if it’s something in their sphere of influence. I try to ask their opinion about a mutual organization that we might have in common like the chamber of commerce or if I see they’re a member I call and ask their opinion about joining. That opens the door to other conversations.

  9. Gene,

    Excellent suggestion! You’re right, people want to be helpful and considered knowledgeable.



  10. Allin,

    I think we’re probably splitting hairs. If you are calling (cold or not) with the intent of only talking about yourself…and not knowing anything about the person/company you are calling — then I have to think the success rate is going to be pretty soft.

    But, if you call with value or knowledge to share — then I am sure you’re successful. I think it’s as much to do with intent as anything else.


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