Unsolicited Sales Calls Suck (So Don’t Make ‘Em)

Dear Copy Bitch: I’m having an argument with the sales folks in my office (I’m in marketing). I’ve created a form for a white paper download on our website. The form asks people if they’d be interested in a sales call to talk about our services, and it provides a yes or no option. The sales folks are furious and say that if someone fills out a form, the person has surrendered their information and it’s open season. In other words, the person will get a call whether he or she wants it or not. I disagree. What do you think?

—Morgan S., L.A.

Answer: I worship at the altar of Seth Godin and firmly believe in asking permission every step of the way. If you offer free content on your website, and I have to fill out a form to get it, I do NOT think you should “assume the close” and follow up with a sales call. Nor should you add me to your email newsletter list unless I ask to be added (any disclaimer saying that you are adding me since I filled out the form does NOT make me feel better, even if it covers your ass legally).

Like you, I get a lot of pushback from clients because they think more is better, when often times, it’s just more. If 50 forms come in, but only 12 have specifically requested that you contact them for follow up, the sales folks often can’t focus on the 12. Instead, they become fixated on the other 38 (methinks Freud would have something to say about this obsession).

“But we need to follow up with those people,” the sales folks whine. Um, no you don’t. Focus on the 12 who want you to call. Focus on crafting messages and providing follow-up materials that will continue to lead the people through the sales process. Why waste your time on calling all 50 and getting frustrated by hang ups and voice mails and, as a result, not spending as much time on the 12 who do want to hear from you?

My information is sacred. At least, I think it is. So shouldn’t the person who’s trying to win my business treat it like it is, too?

Yes. However, the sad truth is that so few do.

As Seth Godin would say, “sounds like an opportunity to me.”

By the way, for those who would argue that no one will offer up their information if they’re not forced to, I have a handful of client websites that proves that theory false. (I wish I had more than a handful, but most of the others aren’t brave enough to allow their prospects a choice.)

2 replies
  1. Lewis
    Lewis says:

    And why provide your information when the white paper/download doesn’t fulfill your expectations? Half the time the white paper is so broad or just too salesy that I dread the inevitable phone call from the sales team. Providing name/email just to get the download and if the download meets my needs why not have a “We’ll contact you” form on the thank you page? Again, if the download whets my appetite just enough for me to want to learn more about a company’s services.

  2. robynbradley
    robynbradley says:

    You bring up an excellent point. I guess I was thinking of the white papers I write, which always offer genuine useful information, as opposed to being thinly veiled sales messages. 🙂 But there are plenty of those OTHER white papers out there, for sure.

    From top to bottom, especially in this age, the conversation shouldn’t be about sales; it should be about engagement. Perhaps we need to rename the Sales Team and call it The Engagement Team.


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