How to NOT do Telephone Marketing With Your Customers

By Lee Collins •  Updated: 06/29/08 •  5 min read
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I was originally going to call this post “The Utterly Useless and Laughably WRONG Way to Use Telephone Marketing to Followup With a Client” – you’ll see why very shortly…

It was a week ago today when I got a phone call from a “Client Rep” of one of the notable gurus.

I won’t name names because I have a lot of respect for the guy. (I mean, I didn’t even name names when a dickweed pulled a gun on me at JVAlert… capiche?)


OK, so let’s set the stage.

You’ve probably gotten one of these calls.

Guru’s Client Rep calls up and tells you he appreciates you. That you’ve been a great customer. And because of the fact that you’re a great customer the Guru wants to offer you a special deal not available for anyone else. But you can’t tell anyone about this special deal because it would make them feel bad – this is JUST FOR YOU. It’s just for you because you’ve been an awesome and loyal customer.

I mean, you’ve got those calls – right?

Sure you have.

Many A-List Marketers (most, actually) have even hired/staffed people to make these calls for them, because these “personal reward and recognition” calls are PURE GOLD.

And even if you don’t buy anything, if you just play along there’s usually a LOT you can learn from them (if done right… and you’ll understand the difference shortly).

But I am utterly baffled by the complete ineptitude of this call.

Before we go on, let me say this…

The reason I’m not mentioning the Guru’s name is because he’s a personal friend of mine. And I really do think a lot of him both personally and professionally. Even if he wasn’t I wouldn’t name names because I believe that’s absolutely unprofessional and just an asshole thing to do.

I’m writing about this because I know it will 1) benefit YOU and 2) benefit him.

So here’s the dealio-yo…

He’s gotta do some serious work on his followup/upsell/special offer marketing campaigns. Or in picking/training the people who do the calls. Or both.

Here’s what I mean, and if you pay attention you can assure your followup marketing campaigns work better than his by following these 4 simple rules.

Let’s start with foundational requirement numero uno…

1. The guy on the phone had ZERO confidence and no conviction.

You have probably been around marketing long enough (if you’ve been in marketing for a day it’s long enough) to know that confidence and conviction are NECESSARY to close the sale.

Most people would have hung up on him, but I hung in there hoping it would get better.

It didn’t.

2. The guy gave me NO benefits for taking the offer.

The only friggin benefit he gave me is dropping <Guru’s Name> 17 times in the span of 8 minutes and 22 seconds. (Yes, I counted.)

3. The guy was completely unclear about what the offer even was.

Let’s take that a step further, not only was it unclear to ME… he didn’t even know what he was offering me for the $1500.00 that he wanted for this special personal offer from <Unnamed Guru>!

After he dinked around for a while I asked just to get to the point, “so what am I getting for $1500 bucks?”

He replied, “Uh, well you’ll get <Well-known Product>… uh, no, you said you already own that… uh…”

and that leads me to my next point…

4. The guy had NO clue about what I had purchased before.

Look, I don’t care if you have to track customer purchases on a NAPKIN… DO IT!

This is CRITICAL information to have when telephone marketing!

Especially if you’re going to have these telephone marketing follow-up calls to sell them more stuff.

In all seriousness I wouldn’t use a napkin, but what I would use – if you have NOTHING ELSE – is an Excel spreadsheet. Or if you want to get fancy a simple database program. Or (when you get bigger and) if you want to get real fancy – I highly recommend Infusionsoft.

(We’ve gone through all these stages. Except the napkin stage. We only use napkins to take orders, not to track purchases. But that’s a whole ‘nother story for another day.)


Before he called me he should have reviewed my past orders and put together a REAL special package customized just for me.

When we work with our clients in creating profitable followup campaigns that integrate online and offline strategies (we call it “hybrid marketing“) we go so far as to even help them come up with scripts to guarantee the highest rate of success from their followup.

Because we all know the money is NOT in the list, it’s in the FOLLOWUP with the list. The real-a-tionship. The personal touches, like knowing what they’ve purchased before – especially with real-time telephone marketing.

So, given all the suggestions above, would I have made a purchase from <Unnamed Guru>?

Probably not, but he would have gotten a lot further in wooing me toward higher priced products in the future with just a little bit more effort from his sales team.

Whaddaya think?

Has this happened to you and what is YOUR experience?

Lee Collins

Lee Collins is a former Air Force Network Systems Engineer and Fortune 500 Corporate VP - who is best known as an early pioneer of Direct Response Marketing on the Internet. He has over 24+ years experience running operations for multiple multi-million dollar marketing, software, SEO, financial, and business coaching companies. When Lee isn't helping his private clients solve big (and small) marketing and operations problems, Lee is most likely heading up into the mountains in his fully-equipped Jeep Gladiator. Or just gone fishing.