Don’t waste your customers’ time

I received an incredibly annoying call this week from someone trying to “confirm” information about me. It was for a publication that I had subscribed to online – this then implies that I filled out a questionnaire and who I am and what I do. After confirming my company name, my name and email, she confirmed my phone number. Um, didn’t you just call me on this number and didn’t I answer. Okay, that might be a bit picky because she could have called me on my cell when I want my work number listed. I’ll give her that one.

She then jumped into the job role questions. What’s your title? I told her senior manager in Marketing. What’s group do you belong to? Sales, Marketing, Finance? Um…I thought I just told you that. Then she asked what level I was C-level, executive, director. Um…I thought I just told you that. After asking me the same two questions about three different ways I finally jumped in and said “I’ve already told you I’m a senior manager in Marketing.” Then she goes on to the decision making questions. Do I have buyer approval, signature authority, do I suggest new technologies and the list goes on and on and on. I told her half way through that when it comes to true IT decision making revolving around her publication and who they target, I don’t have any. Her response…”please pick a category that closests represents your authority.” I told her again that based on her magazine’s target audience I have no authority when it comes to products. She still didn’t like that answer. There’s nothing to hide…I’m not an IT person and don’t play one on TV. Finally, I lied and said I had to go into a meeting.

When you are getting customers queued up to speak to prospects inform them of as much information as possible. Let the customer know that the prospect is interested in buying new staplers (if that’s your product) for all the schools in the city (if that’s the prospects goal/application). The more the customer knows of what’s going on, the better off they’ll be because they can prepare accordingly. And, it will in turn make the call for the prospect better because there won’t be wasted time on silly questions that could have been answered before.

Likewise, if you’re having a call with a customer to write a press release, case study or other Marketing material, know as much about the customer as you can before you hop on the call. Know if they have international locations, know if they’ve used a competitors product, know which products they’re using. Don’t waste their time on questions like “Where are you located? What does your company do?” If you or someone else at the company has previously spoken with the customer, get a download so that you can use your time with the customer to build on what’s already known rather than recreating information. Due your research ahead of time. The more informed you are, the better the call will go.

A great way to start calls (even if a meeting has already been scheduled and accepted) is to ask if now is still a good time to talk.  In essence, you’re asking for their permission to still speak with you.  Who knows what could have just happened before you called!

We’re all really busy. Just as you don’t want your time wasted, don’t do it to others.