Calls to me directly, calls to my team, calls to my business partners saying they already talked to me, calls to someone inside the office asking to be transferred, and my favorite: calls that say we already are doing business and need to meet to discuss when we have nothing — not even a simple non-disclosure agreement in place with them. And, of course, there are the endless emails, follow-up emails and follow-up on the follow-up e-mails...
I did a mental calculation the other day, just for fun, of the number of calls I get in a week. If I were to actually grant the request for a 30-minute meeting to each, it would have cost me a whopping 2,280 minutes! I can say one thing with certainty. If I took all of those calls and meetings, I would not be in the job the following year.
Is there anything we can do? Do the vendors really think this is going to yield more business? That we are going to magically sign a contract with them based the magic of their call center?
Listen, I get the sales and marketing thing. I ran my own business and managed large, global P&Ls including the sales, marketing and business-development teams. I understand the numbers game: X number of contacts yields Y number of meetings, yields Z number of prospects. But it all has to boil down to qualified prospecting.
Many of these callers don’t even know that I work for a life insurance company, nor have they looked at our website, understood our structure and lines of business or determined if their solution even remotely fits. And for those that do, it seems that they think we’re so incompetent that we couldn’t possibly have researched a solution before we decide to invest our company’s money in it. That we couldn’t possibly have the brains to put in place processes where we scan the market for solutions, engage our research and technology partners to determine viable options to our needs and build decision frameworks to help us balance cost, value, risk and quality.
No, it seems the answer is just take a 30-minute meeting and you will magically decide after that meeting that you want to buy this cool new thing that they are selling—this thing that no one else is selling, either.
I wonder how many of these firms actually put their marketing materials side-by-side with their competitors to see how different they are not. I am sure Dale Carnegie is rolling over in his grave. And I may just join him, if I have to talk to another person who just wants to set up a 30-minute meeting. I think I’m ready to start my own naughty and nice vendor list and banish many of them to the Island of Misfit Toys!
Richard Wiedenbeck is CIO of Ameritas Life Insurance.
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