aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

What Are They Thinking?!?

Posted by Ellen on April 27, 2008

We’ve all been there: the salesperson calls at the worst possible time and we’re in no mood to deal with the interruption. We’ll deal with interruptions from members and colleagues, because as association professionals, we’re keen about providing quality customer service.


Case in point:


[Ring, ring]

E: Thanks for calling. This is Ellen.

Caller: This is Joe Doe from XYZ company. [pause]

E [mentally flipping through a roster of member companies, recent contacts, etc., and coming up empty]: I’m sorry. Who?

Caller: You recently downloaded a white paper from our Web site and I wanted to follow up to see what questions I could answer for you.

E [while two more e-mails land in the Inbox, another staff member appears in the doorway, and the clock ticks away minutes to the next conference call, the agenda for which was interrupted by this call]: I’m sorry, I download a lot of white papers, and I don’t always associate the companies with the topics. I really don’t have time right now.

Caller: This will just take a minute.

E [frustrated]: Thanks for calling. [hangs up]


Rude? Probably. But so was the interruption.


I realize that white papers or free reports or any time I have to register on a Web site can lead – and usually does – to a sales call. But that doesn’t mean that the caller should assume they’re calling in a vacuum, that I’ve been eagerly waiting by the phone for their call, nor that I have all kinds of time when they do call.


And the last thing a salesperson should do when they get a response like mine is to go on the defensive.


Yes, I after I hung up on a salesperson, he fired off a biting e-mail to me. Maybe he thought he was being witty, but all he did was alienate me further. What was he thinking?


But woe unto the salespeople who:

  • Don’t ask if it’s a bad time
  • Assume we remember who they are or the company they’re calling from
  • Insist on giving the pitch even when we tell them we don’t have time or suggest they send an e-mail instead
  • React badly when we take charge of the call and the time we want to give to it
  •  Forget for a second that they need us, we don’t need them


So saith a successful former salesperson J

3 Responses to “What Are They Thinking?!?”

  1. […] Welcome « What Are They Thinking?!? […]

  2. Wow! This happens too often. I try to have sales calls screened out but that’s not always possible.

    Not only do these people interrupt you, they expect to make a sale on the spot!

    I don’t do business that way. If the product has value today, it should still have value tomorrow. If the salesperson interrupts me and rushes me, she won’t ever get my business.

  3. Ellen said

    David — I’m so glad I’m not the only one with this reaction to inconsiderate salespeople. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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