“Hi, is Tim there?”
“Hi, this is Tim.”
“Hi, Tim. It’s Annie
“Oh. Hi, Annie.”
“Tim, I thought you were coming in to work today.”
“Yeah, sorry about that, I meant to call you but I lost your phone number. I’ve decided that I don’t want to work for you because I’m not comfortable with your sales techniques.”
“Wh… How do you mean? What techniques?”
“Well, the way the script is written, it makes it seem as if they’ve already ordered the product.”
“Yes, but if they ask, we tell them that they haven’t ordered anything. We don’t lie to them.”
“But that’s only if they ask, and some people won’t think to ask.”
“What do you mean? Of course they ask!”
“Look, the sales technique that you are using is a variation on what’s called ‘an assumed sale.’ It’s a very successful technique and many different telemarketing companies and other sales people use it. It’s also extremely coercive.
“You begin contact with the target by speaking in a manner that implies that you’re talking with them about a product that they’ve already ordered. While it’s true that if they ask whether or not they’ve actually ordered anything you’re obliged to admit they haven’t, this is not why the technique works.
“The key is that by the time they get around to asking you this question, you’ve already disarmed them. They still have their first impression that they’re talking about something they already ordered.
“This is, of course, the opposite of the actual situation. What’s actually happening is that you’re asking them to commit to something new. All things being equal, when you ask someone to make a commitment they will probably say ‘no.’ By switching things around, you’ve made it so that all things aren’t equal. Saying ‘no’ now seems to entail backing out of a commitment.
“Never mind that when they do ask you if they ordered the product, you’re supposed to respond, ‘No, ma’am/sir, you didn’t order the product. This is in regards to your medical and dental records. Now, as I was saying…’ Tell me honestly, Annie, does that sound like a straightforward answer to you? It sounds to me like you’ve deflected the question, implying now that this is in some way related to their health.
“You also have a second innovation that I’d never heard about before. You acquire the names and information of people who have previously bought stuff from telemarketers.
“So you narrow your targets down to people who have shown a willingness in the past to buy things over the phone. Plus it gives the whole call much more of a ‘confirming past decision’ feel. Where a normal sales call would involve asking for their address, etc. The targets never even have to divulge their credit card numbers, avoiding what is often a make-or-break step in the sales process. This sales call instead has the target confirm information that the company already has. The target feels he’s done business with you before.
“During my job interview you suggested that a great way to guarantee that they agree to having the product sent to them is to ask a question that they’ll easily answer with a “yes” right before asking if it is okay to send them the package. A question such as, ‘And I did confirm your address, didn’t I?’ If you’ve already secured someone’s agreement to something, they’re much more likely to agree a second time.
“Finally Annie, when I applied to work for your company, I answered an ad for work as a pollster, promising that there was no sales involved. So if I can’t trust your company to accurately advertise for employees, how on earth do you expect me to trust you that this isn’t all a big scam?
“I mean, a bigger scam than I’ve already discovered it to be.