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When Dodgy Telemarketers Call

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Almost all agents have cold called at some time in their career. It’s still done.

(Related: Prospecting: Everyone’s Looking for the Silver Bullet)

Unfortunately, scams abound (“I’m calling about your computer…”) Bogus charities call. People claim you sent away for information when you didn’t. “We are conducting a survey…”

We haven’t even addressed robo calls! I’m a person who thinks a ringing phone conveys a sense of urgency. If you are like me, you have been on the receiving end of these calls. What do people do?

8 (Mostly) Humorous Approaches

Everyone talks about their experiences. Here are approaches I’ve heard when you answer the phone and know it’s the kind of telemarketer who gives honest, respectful telemarketers a bad name.

1. Business office. This is a serious one. It works for me. These calls often come through on my business line. I answer “Bryce Sanders” is a strong, professional tone. The caller often hangs up. Apparently, they are expecting to only be reaching residences.

2. This better be good. We have a neighbor who must get a lot of these calls. You can’t be sure, because sometimes they spoof numbers to fool caller ID. He doesn’t answer his home phone with “Hello” or “good evening.” In a strong voice he says: “This better be good.” It gets them off balance.

3. The radio station. You’ve seen this enough in movies and Tv dramas to know how radio call in programs work. (If you don’t, watch some episodes of “Frazier.”) The person answers their phone with the words “You’re on the air!” The caller thinks they are live on radio. They hang up.

4. The relative in the attic. One of our friends with an Ivy League background and involved in major NY social groups has a different strategy. She answers normally. The caller asks: “Is she the person in the household who makes decisions about…” She pauses and answers in a child like voice. “Oh, they don’t let me make decisions anymore….”

5. Is it a paid survey? You get calls about surveys, especially as the election approaches. “We would just like to ask you a few questions…” You know the wording of the survey can be designed to get specific answers! The person receiving the call asks: “How much do I get paid for taking this survey?” They answer you don’t. They explain it’s going to take time to answer their questions. “Are you being paid to make these calls?” They answer yes. “Then why shouldn’t I be paid for completing your survey?”

6. The crime scene. You answer the phone breathing deeply. “I’ve done what you said. There’s blood all over the place. What do I do now?” The caller in unlikely to start talking about a virus on your computer.

7. These things take time. You answer the phone in a normal voice. Yes, you are interested in their product, but there’s a pot on the stove. “Just a minute…” You disappear for about 90 seconds, returning to the phone. “Yes, this sounds interesting. Let me get a pen…” You dissappear for another 90 seconds. They start again. You interrupt them: “This pen doesn’t seem to be working. Let me get another…” You disappear again. They will likely be the one to hang up.

8. The dinnertime caller. Another friend finds calls during dinner annoying. She politely lets them know she is having dinner. They keep talking. She asks what time they have dinner. She asks for their number, explaining she will call them back while they are having dinner.

We have all done cold calling. We might use scripts, but we go off script when the other person asks questions. We are sensitive to them. The people who call about the $2 million legacy you received and require you go buy a certain gift card in the amount of $200 and mail it to them, enabling them to release the funds, does not fit into this category.

— Read What Can Insurance Agents Do During Stock Market Declines?on ThinkAdvisor.

Bryce SandersBryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.