In a move that will delight consumers and worry any sales team that makes cold calls, the FCC has decided to publish a weekly list of telemarketers and robo-call companies to both shame those who can't stop calling. The list will not just name the companies, but include the number that popped up, the actual number, and what type of number came through. While "companies may use data like this to further improve their services in determining what calls and texts a consumer might choose to block or filter (i.e. sent directly to voicemail)," The Verge correctly said that " support for this kind of thing is pretty scattered and inconsistent," which is a boon for startups.
That's why Splora, a bay area-based company, is launching a new app in late November that will bring the stability of land-line calls to the data-based calling industry. The app, while also supporting messaging and voice calls, also has a powerful integrated telemarketer blocker; one that uses founder Terry Crews' 50 years in telecommunications to route out the originator of the call and block them permanently; on any number they call from. Their software engages the telemarketer in a conversation via an interactive recorded message, asks for questions related to the telemarketer and then pumps that information to the FCC. It will also feature business-grade functionality--which should scare many fledgling sales startups.
"If customers can tag a number as a telemarketer the carrier can blacklist the real number. Telephone companies have had the capability to do this all along and have failed to act. The question needs to be asked why?" said Crews. "Technology created the problem by enabling telemarketers to randomly call telephone numbers, now it is up to technology to act on behalf of the consumer to give us back uninterrupted, precious moments."
Startups have regularly used cold calls to get sales, as many companies rely upon building a customer base by cold-calling customers. Companies like Splora could bring an end to the poor-quality salespeople that rely on smile-and-dial methods. For example, a great piece from Inc by Minda Zetlin clearly maps out how to make these calls without becoming a robot. You should always focus on making a script that focuses on the real person you're calling, not smiling and dialing and slamming people with the same message. For example, the FCC wants to stop robo-calling, but also the brainless telemarketers that say the same thing every call.
Sadly, as each consumer becomes a series of datapoints made up of their likes, dislikes, age and, of course, phone number, they have become pray to cold-call companies fueled by the likes of the data brokers like PeopleFinders. However, it's also way too easy to find information via LinkedIn and other sources.
Here are a few simple ways to avoid becoming a note on the FCC's list, or a victim of Splora's technology:
Sell To The Right Customer
Research every single person you want to buy your product, even if it seems like extra work, it will mean that you can make a much easier sale when you arrive on their caller-id. If you know them intimately you can have an honest, forthright conversation with them.
No Means No - Really
If you call someone, and they say "I'm really not interested," give them maybe 10 seconds more of your honest thoughts, then leave them be. If you think your product is perfect for them, then tell them why in that short period of time, but if they want you gone? Delete their number. Forever. They don't need to hear from you again.
Convincing Someone Should Be Done With The Truth
Are you selling a piece of software that makes their life easier? Find out why through research and tell them bluntly. Don't use sales terms or buzz, just say "when you use our software, your life will be that much better because of these reasons." If they say no to that, then maybe it's not as great a thing as you think.
Every person you call is still a human being, even if you're annoyed they don't "get it." If they're having a bad day, and they say that, say "okay, I'll call you back." Don't be forceful and be empathetic, even if it means the person on the other end tells you their life story.
When startups start to make it really easy to get rid of your cold calls, it's time to make your calls ones that your potential customer will want to hear about. It's beyond standing out; it's being the person they want to sell to them. Otherwise there's a guy from Australia who wants to kick you out the door.