Take control of supplier cold calls

How to avoid wasting time with sales calls you don't want.

How to avoid wasting time with sales calls you don't want.

As an IT director with an ever-increasing workload you may be frustrated by the rising tide of unwanted direct mail letters, e-mails and calls from suppliers.

In research published earlier this year by the IT Services Marketing Association, more than 80% of UK IT and senior business managers said they were persuaded more by suppliers that took a considered and tailored approach to contacting them.

It is a fact that sales people do not like making cold calls, probably as much as IT directors dislike receiving them, and this can lead to an interesting game of cat-and-mouse.

Much time and effort is wasted by all involved, but it would not happen if these calls were handled better by both sides.

Setting up a process for dealing with potential suppliers can help you to sort the wheat from the chaff and find the products and services that will really help you.

To do this you need to think about how you process information. For instance, do you prefer to have some time to understand supplier calls, or can you make a quick decision?

Compile a list of challenges or specific needs where you may use outside help. Next, document the steps a potential supplier needs to take to grab your attention. Based on this information you can then develop a process that suits you and puts you in control.

If you like using the telephone, take control by scheduling a one-hour slot in your diary to take calls. Limit each person to 10 or 15 minutes. If what they are saying really grabs your attention, they can move the process on. If you prefer to receive written information before you speak to a sales person, put a ceiling on the number of words, pages or documents that are sent to you. This will make the information more focused and save you time.

When it comes to dealing with a cold call, three basic enquiries will prove helpful:

  • Ask the caller what they can specifically do for your organisation
  • Get the caller to explain the tangible benefits of their product or service
  • Get the caller to describe a customer the supplier has helped in a similar situation to yours.

With the flood of direct marketing activity only likely to increase, a little preparation will make sure you only get the information you need.

John Bancroft is vice-chairman of Intellect's marketing and executive group

Read more on IT supplier relationship management

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