“Hi, Mr. Sanchez, how are you?” the caller asked.
The caller ID showed, “Metro Life.”
Raul Sanchez, our administrator, answered, “Ah, not good, I’m still bleeding, I’m afraid.”
I rubbed my eyes and looked out the window. The metaphoric bleeding had begun before lunch, which was too early for me. Our little company gets a lot of sales calls–about a third of them are from insurance companies. No one screens our calls, we answer them all. You call us, you get us.
Raul cut off the speakerphone and continued, “Yes, the oozing still continues. The doctors are hopeful, but no luck so far. You are so thoughtful to ask.” His tone implied imminent death and restrained pain. I wondered what this sales person would say. Sometimes the answers are funny. The first sales call of day had flown in.
Another sales call bites the dust
This little piece of insincerity irritates Raul and me. I blow it off as mindless telephone protocol, but Raul has turned it into a quixotic campaign to discipline witless sales people. He’s not winning, I notice.
Salespeople, by corporate fiat or a vacuous need for politeness, must ask the person who answers the phone the condition of their well-being.
Raul once theorized that insurance agents were really doing a quick check that he was able to come to the phone–evidence that he may be able to pass a basic physical–but I disagreed. What probably began as a simple telephone courtesy protocol has become a cynical tip-off.
Somewhere in Alabama, the fountain of politeness and civility, someone’s mother told her children that all cold calls must begin with a request for health status. However, if you were looking for your shipment of garden supplies, skip the health check and ask, “Where the hell are my petunias?”
I imagine cold callers drilling through their morning list of calls and getting voice mail or hang-ups most of the time. When Raul, a living being, answers they infuriate him with the cold, dead fish of “How are you?” He was so close, but now he’s far away.
The irony is that Raul really needs term life insurance. He has a nice wife, three cute kids and a mortgage. All 5 depend on him. Our company’s freebie life policy won’t even pay off the mortgage. He should talk to the sellers, but they irritate him with their phoniness.
We know you probably don’t care
When our customers call us they don’t ask how we are–probably because they don’t care. They want to know when our factory’s goods will arrive and, this time, please, send the correct color. No warm-up questions like, “How’s the weather in Texas?”