Are you (we) living in the sales past?

Cost of Pursuit

do not call stuffI’ve received some insightful comments to recent posts, which are worth their weight in gold.

Bill Davis, for example. responded to my post: The bulk email test: An (expected) ‘fail’, where I reported on dismal early results from using a spammy email list on our special bulk-email server.

Mark, you should have asked me! Spammers are using ANY list, or even random email addresses if they consider it, simply because it IS a free-to-access medium, and if even just a FEW people bite, it makes it worth the marketer’s while if there is limited cost for advertising otherwise if enough leads are sent to. List sellers/renters also inflate their list counts with all sorts of “fluff” leads, as you well know, and spammer suppliers are no different. In my estimation, they are likely even worse.

I once had several telemarketing operation (sales) and we did a rather nice penny in sales and even in marketing lists. The people who bought became leads that we rented to other telemarketers and when they had been beaten to death that way. Some of our list clients retained (stole) copies of these original files and sold them on their own to who knows how many other people, and these same sales “leads” were sold for the nth time to mail order list brokerages to be junk-mailed to death as well after the phone numbers changed or were turned off through use of address appending software (not what I did, I managed people in the call centers and worked in our other operations activities such as setting up new facilities and training new sales staff, that sort of thing).

That was well over a decade ago (almost two), but I would bet that any of those still in the pile that have email addresses are STILL being hounded. This sort of activity was the norm for the industry (and actually in some cases our version was a REDUCED level of harassment), and it ultimately destroyed what at that time some considered a legitimate method of exposing customers to new item advertising.

There were all manner of arrangements done over the telephone to cold call recipients. Then cell-phones came out, and the lack of cellular telephones at homes did it in the rest of the way as a marketing tool for reaching housewives and other customers in their homes. That horrible business model combined with improved technology eliminated an entire industry, and those who enjoyed that situation as it was before are now either dead, retired, or working as spammers I suppose.

It is the same thought process, and as you stated in another of your articles that linked to this one (thank you!), it was the shotgun approach of numbers games. Those who called more people per hour achieved higher sales than those who called fewer. I saw it personally in my own call centers and even when I joined in back then to demonstrate the process to new hires.

It was another era’s business model, one that probably should just be allowed to die. Spammers are the relics of that era, and eventually, spamming will go away, but you can trust one thing. The mindset of shotgun marketing is here to stay, as someone will ALWAYS believe it works, and to some extent for certain offers that have no integrity or are phrased a certain way, it will for those who are weaker minded customers than others who are more savvy. It does not matter how low the fruit hangs. What matters to the spammer is that the fruit IS there, and that all fruit is sweet regardless of how low it hangs, if the message is sufficient to allow a bite at that fruit. I just think it to be far less ethical now that I had experience actually DOING it in those days, and seeing the inside of the operation for myself. I suppose I had to learn the hard way…

This comment is worthy of several re-reads for anyone thinking that brute-force outbound calling and emailing strategies are the ways to go in 2013.

Today, in the era where individuals can connect, reconnect and communicate on an extremely granular level through social media, you need to earn your access to relationships, and you will fail if you think the way to go is to pound out as much sales and marketing crap as you can.

Yes, I think brute-power canvassing can still work if you can stomach it in certain residential markets, but I think you will be far better off by building on your quality service/workmanship and client experiences, and then seeking solid referrals, coupled with proximity marketing. In the business-to-business environment, generous and effective content coupled with healthy one-on-one relationships (from existing clients and enhanced through relevant associations) will yield you far better results than pounding on the phone or thinking all you need to do is “buy a list” and start spamming for results.

The old stuff may have worked in the 80s and maybe the early 90s, but it is a waste of time and resources now.


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