It’s a new financial year for many. You can always tell, because of the increased volume of speculative and unintelligent marketing calls that seem to pervade life as one financial year moves into another. The assumption is probably that because companies have moved into a new year they will have a bit of spare cash. The assumption is probably wrong.

Whether or not a business’s financial year starts in April, January, or whenever, budgetary planning will have been done (or should have been) many months before, so much of their spend will most likely already have been allocated. If I was employed to make speculative calls I think I would do a tiny bit of research into each company to establish their year of formation, whether their accounts are up to date, and what year end they work to. This is publicly available information and is not hard to find. That way, calls could be planned to time with their annual budgeting exercise.

It is a matter of respect, and interest in the business you are calling. Unfortunately the people who are employed to make these calls are probably on poor wages and just given a list of numbers to call, or high commission and. really don’t give a stuff! I am not so much addressing this to those who make the calls but to their management. If business people are treated like numbers then don’t be surprised if there is a very poor take up of the service that you are offering. The good ones don’t have time. Unintelligent, irritating marketing rarely receive anything other than a very curt response, because there is also rarely any consideration for whether or not it is an appropriate time to target the business.

My business Exportaid is me, although I work closely with other consultants with different deep specialisms in their respective areas of international trade. Because my business is just me, I have to allocate my time very carefully in order to deliver the best services to my clients. While I always either take calls when available or call people back who have left a message and provided a reason, I have absolutely no time for companies who have no respect my time. It is a very precious commodity.

This morning I had two further calls from a London number that I have identified to be a speculative marketing company. I either store these calls against a fruity name or I block them. Blocking only stops the one number so actually I prefer the former strategy, even though my address book is now dominated by alphabetically listed fruity names! I was called at 11am by an unconfident call operator but at least he got the name of my company right and when he said he was interested in talking to me about their currency exchange services,  I told him quickly that it is my clients and not me who use currency exchange services but that I already worked with several foreign exchange companies for different parts of the world.

Knowing I would not be needing their services, I chose to block their further calls rather than give the FX company a fruity name in my address book. Daft mistake. One hour later I received a second call from a very similar number and the caller asked if he could speak to “Exported”. My response was short and rude, because if a caller can’t even be bothered to get my company name right, then there really is no point in me speaking to them. It is also highly unlikely that my mobile telephone number is listed in any business directories after about 2005, so the caller’s information is either old or has been passed on or sold to them by a third party.

I know. This has become a bit of a whinge, but I think a justified one. So let me end on a positive note. If a marketing company trained their callers to do the following, I would first pick up the call, second give them time, and third they might even win my business:

  1. Obtain a list of companies
  2. Check their records in Companies House or elsewhere
  3. Check their website to get an idea of what they do
  4. Note the name of the most relevant person to try and speak to
  5. Introduce your company confidently in the first ten seconds of the call
  6. Ask for the person by name and pronounce their company name correctly
  7. Show at least a small amount of knowledge about their company
  8. Offer them something you have identified as potentially relevant to their business
  9. Show awareness that they are likely to have been called previously by competitors
  10. Respect their time and keep the call brief, offering to email further details

You might be pleasantly surprised at the results. About ten years ago I was called by World First on the very same issue. I had already been called several times that week by competitive FX companies and had given each short shrift. There was something about the World First caller that held my interest, but actually it was nothing to do with their product offer. It was because they showed knowledge of my business and respect for my time. I referred them to several clients. It can be that easy.


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