It's a tough life in sales. Typically receiving a low base salary, salespeople generally earn most of their wages through commission - a percentage of any sales they make. So who can blame them for calling up potential customers in order to make a sale?
Call centres have been around for some time. A typical call centre looks like any office, with row upon row of desks with partitions that separate employees. The employees sit with headsets dialing phone numbers from a list. They usually have a script telling them what to say and even how to respond to almost anything the potential customer might say. Cold-calling can be profitable for a company, who may only need to sell to a small percentage of those people contacted to make it worthwhile.
However, often these 'potential customers' have not given permission for the company to call them to sell them a product. Can you really imagine yourself ticking a box on a form that says 'would you like us to call you so that we can try to sell you our products or services?'.
In our example above, we could have been in the middle of writing an important email. We might have just thought of the perfect words to express our meaning, yet the interruption causes us to forget them. We're not picking up the phone to friends or family, but to people we have never met and are unlikely to in future. Uninvited interruptions invade our private space and a lot of people hate them.
In the UK, cold calls (also known as 'nuisance calls') have received a lot of media attention over the years. With this pressure, regulators have set up a method of opting out of receiving this type of uninvited phone call. This is called the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). To opt out, UK residents simply call or send a text message to a specific number. Your phone number is then added to a 'no calls' database. Companies can be fined a lot of money for calling someone on the database.
Cold-calling is part of a marketing method known as 'direct marketing', which tries to contact potential customers directly.
One of the main benefits of this form of marketing is that it often requires a direct response from customers (for example, visiting a webpage or adding the company profile on a social media app). The percentage of responses can be calculated and used to assess how successful the campaign was. It also helps companies reach a large number of potential customers quite cheaply, while some forms of direct marketing use face-to-face contact to give a more personal feel.1
We've already spoken about the main drawback of this kind of marketing - the fact that many customers hate this kind of unsolicited (not asked for) contact.
Let's take a look at some different forms of direct marketing.
Potential customers are contacted via phone or video call. Unsolicited contact is known as 'cold-calling'.
Potential customers are visited at their homes or companies. Unsolicited contact is known as 'cold-calling'.
Potential customers are approached on the street and given leaflets containing 'coupons' (special offers).
Leaflets, free samples or coupons are sent to potential customers' homes. Unsolicited contact is known as 'junk mail'.
Emails are sent to potential customers. Unsolicited contact is known as 'spam' or 'junk mail'.
1 Chron - http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-direct-marketing-telemarketing-54933.html