Who ya gonna call?
April 15, 2005 7:56 AM   Subscribe

What department/office/person should I be looking for when cold-calling companies about having our sales team visit them for a presentation?

I work for a cell phone company, and recently one of the sales reps in a local store went above and beyond the call of duty and offered to try to set up a "vendor day" with a customer's employer, because we offer its employees service discounts that they might not be aware of. Word just came down from the big guns that they were so pleased with this that today everyone is to try to get at least 3 companies to set up a day for our team to go in and present our plans and the discounts to these employees.

I will be the first to admit that when on the phone with a total stranger, I tend to sound like a bumbling idiot, especially when I have no idea what I'm looking for and I'm forced to explain myself to a call center phone-jockey who probably doesn't have a clue what I'm trying to ask for. Does anyone have any suggestions on what office/department I should be looking for when making these calls?
posted by chickygrrl to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I would go with accounting.
posted by xammerboy at 8:01 AM on April 15, 2005

I'm a little unclear on what's being sold and to whom.

Is it potential service/upgrades to the company's employees *personal* phone plans that are available because the firm has a corporate plan with your company? In this case I'd start with a senior HR decision maker. It's sort of an employee benefit that won't cost the company anything.

Or is it new service/upgrades to the company's corporate phone plan? In this case - bearing in mind I don't work in your industry - I'm thinking you need to set the meeting with the executives who'll benefit from their staff's increased productivity, and the decision maker(s) who can authorize the purchase, who may not be the same people.
posted by mojohand at 8:13 AM on April 15, 2005

Response by poster: mojohand (and anyone else I've managed to confuse): It's discounts on the employees' personal cell service, not the corporate lines.
posted by chickygrrl at 8:19 AM on April 15, 2005

Definitely HR then, ask for someone who handles employee benefits.

As an interesting side note, when Bell does on site visits to convince us to get personal cell phone plans, they bring masseuses who give out seated back rubs, and aromatherapy experts who do, uh, aromatherapy. They set up a booth in one of the atriums near the cafeteria where people can go for information and offer the goodies to entice people to look at the information.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:25 AM on April 15, 2005

I would start with the Office Manager. They will eventually need to get Human Resources and the COO involved in the final acceptance, but they generally will tend to be the first line of defense you need to get through. If you get them onboard, they can catapult you to the decision-makers.

Also, when I was an Office Manager for various companies, I was a lot busier than people thought, so don't drone on and on. Make the first sentence out of your mouth that you're calling to discuss an employee-discount program your company has available. Ask them if they have time for a short meeting this week to discuss it in person and move on. Do not try to create a mini-presentation on the phone, as the Office Manager is probably juggling 20 things at once.

Good luck!

P.S. - On preview, I see several suggestions of the HR department as the first stop. I still think, based on my personal experience, that the Office Manager can be your "champion" and you're more likely to get a quick meeting with them than someone in HR.
posted by cyniczny at 8:31 AM on April 15, 2005

I suggested HR, cyniczny, because I don't know that large companies have someone in the role of Office Manager, really. But if the target market is more smaller offices with dozens rather than thousands of employees, that does make more sense.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:57 AM on April 15, 2005

I worked in telemarketing for a summer (business-to-business, not direct!) and I'm with most folks here. Ask for HR, but don't be afraid to just explain what you're offering to whoever it is you're on the phone with. After all, the more people at one business who know what you're offering, the better off you are, particularly when the benfits go right to the employees you're speaking with.

Have fun with it, business-to-business can be very pleasant! You're giving lots of people a break from monotony as well as a great discount.
posted by lorrer at 9:03 AM on April 15, 2005

On preview: Yeah, HR is a lot safer than "office manager." Honestly I'd have no idea what someone was looking for if they said that, whereas if you say HR then even if they don't have a seperate HR department (i.e. they're very small) they'll know what you're getting at. Again, be confident, business-to-business is NOT the same as calling someone at home
posted by lorrer at 9:08 AM on April 15, 2005

Can I give out one piece of free unsolicited advice? Having dealt with dozens and dozens of companies bugging me to buy/try/whatever their products on the phone at my store... do one thing that will be helpful to you, and the other person.

Make it EASY for them to tell you no right from the start. If you make it tough for me, I'm a bit of a pussy. You'll never get my money unless I actually want the product (in which case I'll say yes right away) but when it's tough for me to get the word "no" in, I end up telling you to phone back when I'm not busy.

A certain company (a local radio station) is annoying like this and phones back every week thinking I'm serious. Lucky for me, I have caller ID and just ignore them now -- they could have saved a lot of their time if they had just said, right away "We're wondering if you're interested in any radio advertising for the older population?" In which case I would have said "No, old people don't buy our products [modchips for game consoles]. Thanks anyways."
posted by shepd at 11:40 AM on April 15, 2005

HR, Office manager, or at companies who have an IT group that handles telecom, you want the IT Director.

You might get a book called "Cold Calling Techniques that Really Work" ... it helped me when I was a newbie to that kind of thing.
posted by SpecialK at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2005

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