We’ve all heard about horrid sales jobs where one has to cold call businesses throughout the entire work day just to try to generate new clientele. But do we ever hear from the victims of said cold calls? I’d like to give the Administrative Assistant’s point of view on this one, if I may. Well – it is my blog – so I think I’m entitled.
We are the first (and sometimes second) line of defense against sales people calling to talk to our bosses, the “decision makers.” I am here to state that what we have to put up with over the phone is absolutely atrocious. I have two bosses and every other week I am assisting with answering the firm’s phone lines. Both invite all manner of sales people calling throughout the day and are equally enervating.
Very rarely do I get a saleswoman that is as pushy as the least of the annoying salesmen out there. The saleswomen call about office supplies, copiers and copy toner, recruiting and HR. Your basics. The salesmen call about personal wealth management, recruiting, real estate, utilities, magazines/newspaper subscriptions and sometimes want to get a quote from my head boss guy on something related to his field.
I don’t know what “school” people go to to learn Sales Calls 101 but I can attest that they are all the same. Screw it, I’m just going to flat out say it: the men are the worst of the two sexes. I have yet to encounter a female sales person who attempts to be a quarter slick-as-snot as their male counterparts.
The following are all attributes of a typical sales call on any given business day:
- Pretending to know my boss(es) on a first-name basis, often shortening my male boss’s name (instant giveaway)
- Will not give his/her name or describe what the call is in reference to
- Faking having a supremely busy day and thus needs a SPECIFIC time to call back, to make sure my boss is available
- Try to get to know me personally, asking for my name and how I’m doing today, cajoling me into parting with whatever gem they need to advance to the next step of “the transaction”
- Give up mid-call to ask for anyone who they could talk to besides me, and upon my saying I will transfer him/her, I get asked what the name and/or extension is of the person to whom I’m transferring the call
- Becoming argumentative when I absolutely insist that I have a name and a reason for his/her call before transferring it directly to my boss, demanding that he can ONLY talk to my boss and my boss only and NO I can’t take a message and a return phone number
Once, I had a particularly pushy financial sales guy call back no less than four times, never leaving his name, never having a reason to speak to my boss other than some vaguely strung together industry jargon, always ending with “Well I’m about to hop onto a conference call myself so I won’t be able to call back until later; when is your boss available?” When it became absolutely apparent that I was the guard dog whom he would never pass without a legitimate story, he finally gave up and stopped calling.
I have also been berated by those from the media because the guy thinks I get my jollies by not putting calls through to my boss, even though he was from European magazine I’d never heard of (nor care about) and no matter how much he needs to speak to my boss directly, gets SO PISSED that he can’t get past me.
My “favorite” type of sales call happened recently and I am pasting it in its entirety:
Me: Good afternoon, [name of my company].
Sales Douche: Hey, how are you?
Me: Fine thanks, and you?
Sales Douche: Eh, I can’t complain; nobody listens, you know?
Me: Ha ha….yeah I know how that is. (Not really – who says that?)
Sales Douche: Is Nicholas* there? (Now, he’s called the MAIN number. You can’t just ask for any old random Nicholas. Be a bit more presumptuous by pretending you know him, would you? Jerkoff.)
Me: Nicholas who?
Sales Douche: Nicholas Jones.
Me: He’s out of the office until Wednesday.
Sales Douche: Until Wednesday, huh? What’d ya do with him? (Emphasis on “ya.” He’s from Jersey, obviously.)
Me: *Pause* What did I do with him? He’s out on business.
Sales Douche: Haha, okay. Well so Wednesday morning then?
Me: Late Wednesday morning should be fine.
Sales Douche: Great, and your name is?
Me: *Reluctantly* I’m Zoe.
Sales Douche: Great Zoe, thanks. (Do I get all warm and fuzzy because he’s thanking me personally for “helping” him? Hell no.)
Me: Uh huh, buh bye.
First of all, I can’t stand small talk. Like, I cannot abide it. But I despise being treated like I’m an insipid, vapid receptionist, someone who is nothing more than a warm body answering phones who has nothing better to do than banter with a cold calling sales dick, who is attempting to ingratiate himself to me by asking me how I’m doing and learning my name. It doesn’t work that way, Ace. I’m losing precious minutes of my life being on the phone with you!
I don’t care what you’re trying to sell or find out from my boss but I will do everything in my (albeit limited) power to keep you from speaking with him, since I know with every fiber of my phone-answering being that you have nothing he wants to buy or discuss.
I don’t have a proposed solution to this issue. I just hate conversing with dipshits on the phone. If there was any way that cold calling could not be so used car salesmany, that would definitely ease my pain when I am forced through my employer to answer phones. I know I’m getting paid to do it, but I just can’t fathom that it has to be this painful. The most I can do is bitch/rant about it for you dear readers, who may or may not be able to commiserate with me about it.
As of this writing, I just fielded a call for my boss, who said, “Hi Zoe…is [my boss] there?” I replied, “He’s in a meeting. Can I pass on a message?” Meanwhile, the faint sound of the call center is in the background.
“Uhh I’ll just ping him an email, because I’m all over the place today.”
First of all – ping? Really? Secondly, I love how he pretends that he’s doing something other than sitting on his ass in a call center for eight hours or more.
So I baldly ask, “Okay, that’s fine – and who are you?” I wasn’t polite about it.
“It’s Omar**,” he said, “I’ll just ping him an email.” I wish I had said, “You do that.” Instead I’ll just be over here holding my breath until our next slimy interaction.
**name left intact