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What’s your strategy for dealing with unwanted callers?

What’s your strategy for dealing with unwanted callers?

27th September 2013

Yesterday I answered the phone to be assailed by a gabbling voice, in an indistinct accent.  The only words I could work out were ‘survey’ and ‘ time’.  And my hackles went up straight away.  I just did not have the time to ask him to repeat things and work out what he was saying, while he went through his script at break neck speed.   So that’s what I told him, followed by ‘thank you’ and then I put the phone down. 
Was that rude?  Probably.  Was it assertive?  Maybe.   I know some who can deal with these unwanted calls so well and some who are, in my view, just plain awesome to listen to.  And not an ounce of guilt afterwards. 
Here are a few examples of techniques that make me giggle and which you may wish to try.  (I have not used their real names so they will still speak to me!)  Oh, and by the way, try these techniques only on those callers whose services you do not want.  Please don’t use them on valued clients! 

►    After answering the telephone and deciding the caller really is a salesman or a timewaster, Jeremy says nothing at all.  That’s right, just silence.  No matter what the caller says or asks, Jeremy is silent: "How are you today, sir?”   [silence]    “Hello? Are you still there?”     [silence]  “I’m Josh from Stoney Insurance” [silence]  “Hello?”  [silence]  Eventually the caller hangs up.

►    Angie has another strategy, especially when, for example, the caller asks to speak to whoever is in charge of, say, office supplies: “Do you know the name of the person you want to speak to?”  “Er, no, but I’d like to speak to whoever is in charge of office supplies.”   “OK, but do you know that person’s name?”   “Well, no.”    “Then I’m sorry I can’t put you through as I only have lists of names and numbers.  Thank you for calling.”    

►    Bryony has discovered that “we do not use …” (whatever they are selling) works particularly well.  The hardest part is repeating your claim.  But it takes their legs away if you “do not use” whatever they are trying to sell (even if you do.) 

►    Simon has no time whatsoever for any unwanted callers and his technique really does require guts.   After a few seconds or a minute of listening, he will say  “Can I interrupt you?”.    The reply usually comes back: “Yeah, sure”.    Then he hangs up.  (Simon’s interpretation of “interrupt”.)

►    And finally, Julie, a particularly confident and assertive lady.  She interrupts a caller’s flow at least three times with a consistently firm but polite “No, thank you”.  It works!

Are you tempted to try some of these?  Or do you have your own knack of dealing with those whose services you do not want?  Leave a comment and share your strategy with all those reading this article.
And have a great weekend when it comes.
Des Whitehorn


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