Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win their ideal clients by becoming seen as authorities in their field.



How Not To Keep In Touch – IBM Style

Posted on 4th August 2010.

It's important that you keep the contact details of your prospects and customers up to date. But here's an example of the wrong way to do it…

I got a phone call a couple of days ago from IBM – or rather from one of their offshore call centres.

Is that Mr Brodie?

Yeah, that's me.

Can I confirm your address please?

Hang on, who is this calling?

I'm calling from IBM. [Now sounding quite annoyed]Can you confirm your address please?

Er, no.

I'm sorry. Can I confirm your address please so that IBM can contact you?

Actually, no. I don't think I want IBM to contact me. Bye.

Now there are many things wrong with they way they handled that call. But the biggest thing it brought to mind for me is the huge shift in my (and most other people's) willingness to put up with these sorts of calls over the last 5 years.

5 years ago I'd have been most obliging. I'd have given my details over so that IBM could get their stuff to me.

Today, not only do I not particularly want to give over my details in case I get sent junk – but I even feel resentful that they're wasting my time with the call.

Today, if you want to get anything from me on a call – even answering a few quick questions, I'm going to have to feel I'm getting something of value in return. In fact, I need to know that within the first few seconds of the call or I'm already tuning out and thinking of ways to get rid of you.

I don't think it's just me. We're all incredibly short of time these days, incredibly cynical about why people want our details, and incredibly intolerant of being “sold to”.

So next time you or your team need to make a call to get some information from a client or prospect; think how you can actually make the call valuable to the person you're calling rather just a drain on their time and energy.

If you want to confirm their address, for example – offer to send them a free report in a subject area of interest to them. That way they get something in return and it's logical that you need their address to be up to date.

Want to carry out a client survey to get feedback on where your firm can improve its performance? Offer to create an individual action plan as a result showing how you'll improve your performance for them.

Anything you need from them: give them something back in return.

Otherwise each non-valuable communication is one step further to them becoming an ex-client.

What do you think?

Are we all less tolerant these days of communications that don't add value to us?

Or is it just me getting grumpy in my old age?

I'd love to hear your views – drop me a comment in the comments box below.