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How To Understand Telemarketers

Updated on July 12, 2011

Telemarketers Are People Too

This is a self-help story that is free of charge to anyone who has been subjected to the sometimes-annoying telephone calls made by telemarketers. Believe me, friends, I've been down that road many times--had my dinner interrupted, had my wife to yell at me for not hanging up the phone and not getting to see what the final score was between Ohio State and Purdue.

Let's face it. Telemarketers are very persistent. Telemarketers are annoying. And telemarketers, if we should accept the truth, all do a tough job in order to make their living. Telemarketers are in the sales business selling everything from ladies bras, cellphones, gift cards, vinyl siding to life insurance that will only cost you pennies a day. This is a short list of things that these patient and enduring "Titans of The Telephone," sell from daylight to dark and some even sell late at night. These "night owl" salespeople are known as infommercials seen on your televison that also sell you ways to money without working, investing in selling figurines, and floor mats that will last a lifetime.

I do not know the origin of telemarketers. I don't think anyone really cares where they got their start, but I hand it to them, they do not take 'no' for an answer. Fact: I recall that one day last week, a telemarketer called my home and led off with a computer-generated message telling me that I qualified for a lower credit card rate. I was to press "1" to speak to an agent. When this agent came on the line, I humbly asked her to not call my home anymore due to the fact that I didn't have any credit cards. This made her irritated and she broke the cardinal rule of telemarketers, she hung up the phone.

I have even had a few telemarketers who kept talking up their sales pitch as I kept interrupting with a "not interested," and a "bye" or two. These feeble attempts to get free of this teleauctioneer, only made me irritated and I hung up the phone. Fact: just now at 11:52 a.m., C.S.T., a telemarketer has just called me and he was Mike Huckabee wanting me to sign a petition to get congress to repeal the Obama Healthcare Act. I had to do it. I sinned I guess. But I hung up my phone. You see, the stories that you and I write have a way of coming into reality. That's a dangerous prophecy I just made.

Okay. I think I have covered all the things that irritate us about telemarketers. Now I would like to do a flip-flop and tell you how to handle telemarketers and how to understand their plight as they sometimes work on strictly commissions to make a paycheck. I can easily relate to telemarketers for I once tried to sell radio spots and that, my friends, is a tough job especially in the economy of 2000. The area I worked was a rural county in Alabama and most of the stores were "mom and pop" stores who either didn't believe in radio advertising, or had not heard of my radio station. Tough is an inadequate description of what I tried to sell.

Remember this the next time a telemarketer calls you, (unless you have placed them on a No Call List), that the telemarketer has not got anything against you personally. Do not waste energy saying no and I don't think so, for these phrases are only fuel for the flame for the hard-working telemarketer. Rejection only makes them stronger. Telemarketers are more powerful than the green substance, kryptonite, that made Superman lose his strength. And you are not playing with a bush league salesperson. Telemarketers are trained by supervisors who go to school to learn the ins and outs of selling anything to anyone. A prime example of this is found in a place called Orange County, Florida. My family and I went there one year for a vacation under the guise of taking ONE TOUR of the fine condos in that area and there would be no pressure or strong-arm tactics used to make us buy one of their expensive cond

I was dead wrong. I was met with a lady telemarketer/real estate expert, who was, I give her credit, attractive and well-spoken. Fact: During this time spent in Orange County, I noticed that all the saleswomen were attractive--mostly blonds, slim, always smiling and twirling their hair. Just a coincidence, I guess. Anyway. We took the sales lady's tour and after we said no to her offer, we thought that we would be allowed to leave. Not. Another 'saver' as they are called, came in to save the sale. He told us a sad story about two brothers who always wanted a place like these condos to come to for vacation, but one of the brothers grew ill and had to be hospitalized. It gets worse. The brother who was sick, passed away in the hospital and the surviving brother spent years in grieving that they had not bought a condo at this place of course.

My wife, a sharp cookie, saw right through his sales tactics and we turned him down. But again, I listened intently to the first saleslady and her 'saver' and both had been schooled on the fine art of salesmanship. I was, somewhat impressed. My wife was not.

When a telemarketer calls you, do not curse, threaten or use idle phrases. This will not help. Do what I do, listen to their entire sales pitch and frankly, I have learned a thing or two about their products that I got from asking if they had a website. After this, I said no and we hung up with no ill feelings. But use caution. Not all telemarketers have websites. Be careful when asking them questions, for this only shows them that you might be slightly interested.

One thing I have started doing is turning the conversation around. I ask the telemarketer a series of questions making him or her go on the defensive. This works up to a point. Then the telemarketer senses that I am only stalling for time and he suddenly has to run. You don't have to be ugly as a sick gorilla to get your point across.

I ask things like, where are you calling me from? How is the weather in your area? How about those Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl? This one always distracts them from selling me a lifetime supply of hemorrhoid cream that comes in a discreet, brown box that will be delivered by FedEx or UPS. And no, I have not bought any hemorrhoid cream from any telemarketer. I know where my local Walmart pharmacy is located.

Hanging up the phone works, if you want to go that route. Me? I find it hard to just hang up in mid-conversation. My parents taught me valuable manners when I was growing up. Actually, to be totally honest with you, this event happened to me a few months ago. A telemarketer called me one Wednesday and said I had won two - one-hundred dollar gas cards courtesy of Walmart. My heart skipped a time or two when I heard those beautiful terms: won and free. Who wouldn't be happy in today's economy to hear this on their phone? The telemarketer continued to ask me what my mailing address was. I told him. Then he said, "I will give you the address where you can send me the $10.99," suddenly, a red flag went up. "You just said I had won two-one-hundred dollar gas cards from Walmart! Didn't you or didn't you say free?" I replied. "Uhh, yessir, but the $10.99 is for shipping." the telemarketer said. "$10.99? To ship two cards that do not weigh one ounce between them?" I argued. The telemarketer stuttered for a moment and hung up the phone. He almost had me there. I admit it. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

In closing. Use common sense and moral guidelines when you deal with a telemarketer. And I also want to add that not ALL telemarketers are hucksters. There are some who are reliable and trustworthy.

It's the "speed of light" talking hucksters who give the legitimate telemarketers a bad name.


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