Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

November 2018

Missionaries make cold calls. Tough work; hard not to get discouraged. One needs not only faith but also a thick skin. To continue knocking on doors after seldom being welcomed in to make your pitch makes it hard to keep going.

Whether selling the good news of the Bible or vacuum cleaners, magazine subscriptions or pots and pans, cold-calling success has to happen before one can close the deal.

That’s why closers often follow a group of “bird dogs” into a neighborhood. When a bird dog gets in the door, the closer leaps into action hurrying to the door to knock or ring. When the door is opened, the closer glibly asks to join his colleague.

Of course, cold-calling has become automated. Robo-calls, emails, Web ads qualify prospects and call for action: “Hold for a ...,” “Dial 1 to be connected ...,” “Press enter to ….”

There are standard ways to keep a prospect, no matter how unqualified, on the line with promises of deeper discounts, free samples, or guarantees.

Supermarket BOGOs are a version of cold-calling.

I never liked to do the old kind of cold-calling so, predictably, I was terrible at it. On the old radio series Allen’s Alley, there was a salesman who muttered to himself after knocking on a door, “Please don’t be there, please don’t be there.” That was me.

You can slam your door. There are spam filters to avoid the annoying emails. You can list your phone on a don’t-call list. It won’t stop the political callers and phony charities, but you can just hang up.

Of course, print ads are cold-callers that don’t annoy. No one is ever put on a list to be hounded because they read a print ad. And print ads don’t have to be intrusive; they work because it’s impossible to read a print ad without being engaged. Plus, if your print ad is well produced, like a Business People–Vermont ad, it keeps working for months. You never find yesterday’s newsprint at the barber shop, the dentist’s, or doctor’s office, right?

It’s possible I will get complaints about this column for a long time.

Oh, well: No one got their hands dirty or privacy invaded.