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If the Greeks had it right 2500 years ago how comes its gone so wrong?

We spent yesterday with a new client who had an “unfortunate” experience with a regular telemarketing operation.So poor was it, that on listening to some of the calls they had felt compelled to call the prospect to apologise for its delivery!

I wasn’t going to mention this as, frankly, we hear less extreme versions of this all the time.Until I received a call this morning. I tend to take most of the inbound telemarketing calls into the business – mainly out of professional interest. This mornings effort was so poor it’s worthy of note.

After a mumbled question to confirm my name, the “agent” then proceeded to rattle through his script. After about 30 seconds my brain switched off, by the time the telemarketing call was approaching its third minute I was ready to wrap the telephone cord around my neck and the agent must have been going blue himself given that he seemingly hadn’t taken a breath in all that time.

To save blushes I wont mention the company he was representing but I did get to wonder if they had any idea whatsoever just how they were being represented.

The agent would have dispositioned this call as a positive contact with a decision maker and no doubt it would have been reported in the stats as such. So although the client will be able to work out the percentage conversion rate (assuming any calls were actually successful) they would have no idea what lay behind it or, indeed, that I had a poorer view of their company after the call than I did before I took it!

As Mr. Clarkson would say: “You couldn’t make it up!”

Moving swiftly on from one of the 21st Century’s best known philosophers ; I’d like to take you back to between 469 BC – 399 BC

Socrates was knocking about the Athenian forums between these times. Apart from being a founder of Western philosophy, winning renown for his contribution to the field of ethics and making major contributions to epistemology and logic he also pioneered what came to be known as the Socratic method, or the method of elencus. (Phaenarete must have been pretty chuffed!)

In a nutshell this is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals. A series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Based on asking these questions and listening to the answers you can stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas. In the discussion it may be that the defence of a point is questioned, indeed one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, thus strengthening the inquirer’s own point.

You may ask yourself if this sort of technique has been recognised and developed for over 2500 years why isn’t it used as standard when your trying to sell things on the telephone?

The answer: well actually it’s quite difficult to do well. It involves employing sales people who are prepared to think, and respond,and think again. Training people to this level requires a huge investment of intellectual property, time and money. It’s challenging. It’s impossible to automate using call management software (although some systems attempt to with ‘if they say this, you say that’ scripts – which if you think back to some the more inane telemarketing or telesales calls you have had where the agent appears to be in a parallel universe this is probably what caused them.)