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Telemarketers on the office line. Again.

Paragon, like every other company out there, receives dozens of telemarketing calls and robocalls. Every day. What to do?

It’s estimated these calls cost small businesses half a billion dollars in lost productivity annually. I know we’d like our share of that time and money back.

But it seems there’s little to nothing we can do about it. Because, although the federal government’s national Do Not Call Registry may offer consumers some relief from spam, it leaves businesses exempt and unprotected. Hooray.

Since the telemarketing business model runs on single digit success rates, really, like 4% actually make a sale, they’re awfully persistent. They have to be.

So I thought I’d do a search around the internet to see if I could come up with ANY advice with which to arm myself and you. Arm or amuse. Here goes:

A telemarketer comes clean on Reddit

Here some advice from Reddit, from a former telemarketer. I know – Reddit. Hey. If they’re good enough for CNN, they’re good enough for me!

Don’t immediately hang up when you find out it’s a telemarketer! So many people do this, and you know what the reps do? They mark it as an early hang-up and since no pitch was made, you’re put right back on the list to be called again.

Don’t get pissed off at the rep.
I’ve seen many reps purposefully put customers that request not to be called back on the calling list for as soon as 10 minutes later if they’re obnoxiously rude or ignorant. (I knew it!)

If you don’t want the product, don’t just decline.
Most people that aren’t interested in the product are put back on the lists until they request not to be called anymore. Politely declining the offer will just get you another call in the future. (I know that myself and other reps have put polite people on our do not call lists even if they didn’t request it. We could get fired for this, but some people are too nice for me to want to bug again, and the chances of getting caught are slim.)

Don’t try to trick the rep
Saying you aren’t there even when you are, claiming not to speak english, and other “tricks” I’ve seen people recommend are really counter-productive, as most of the time you get put back on the list (and if you claim you speak Spanish, you’ll be put on a list to have a Spanish speaking rep call you.)

Try not to get mad when a rep rebuttals a refusal
At many jobs I’ve had in the field, reps only get fired because of a couple reasons. Swearing on the phone, attendance issues, or not rebutting a customer. We are required to give one rebuttal every call. When we’ve received 2 no’s, we can disconnect the call. If you’re getting multiple rebuttals in a call, it’s probably a less than respectable call center, rep, or product and it’s best to ask for a supervisor to escalate your do not call request.

Read the full thread here.

Lifehacker also has some advice, also courtesy of a former telemarketer, Erica Elson. She wrote a book. Some tips from her:

Anything relevant you mention will be added to your lead profile: an email address, best time to call, or your objections to the product. Don’t say anything to the telemarketer unless you want it written down on your profile.

Don’t engage with the telemarketer in any way. This gives them the false hope that you may just need some convincing and are actually interested in their product. Do not ask questions. Do not explain why you are not interested in the product. Do not show empathy or other human characteristics.

Don’t give up mid-conversation and hang up without an explanation.This will most likely result in the telemarketer calling back, claiming you got “disconnected.” If you don’t answer then, they will keep calling.

Don’t let the telemarketer call you back at another time. Anything that’s not a hard “no” will be interpreted as an opportunity to call you back.

These both seem to amount to: say no. A lot. Or “no is the message, stay on it.”

One more thought on this. Telemarketers always ask to speak to a decision maker. This makes sense. No point in giving the pitch to a gatekeeper. In these cases, I am almost always the gatekeeper, and as a result, I don’t get to say no, and for the most part, they keep calling. Now, I have worn some down by just refusing to put them through, repeatedly, but there are a couple that continue to call in the hopes of getting further up the food chain. If you find yourself here, let your decision maker know, and either get their buy-in to take the call (with instructions to say no. A lot.) or… get their buy-in for you to play them for the call and say no. A lot.

They’re calling to update your Google listing. Again!

I get this particular Robocall daily. Really. Daily. I am prone to hyperbole, but this is cold, hard, fact. To make things weird, these started shortly after we HAD actually been speaking to some arm of Google. Were these real? NO. They are not. And your Google listing is fine. So is your Google Map listing. And your credit score. And so on.

So what to do? Robocalls require some different tactics.

  1. DO hang up straight away. “Our advice is straightforward. Hang up,” says Lois Greisman, director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Marketing Practices Division. “There are virtually no legitimate marketers trying to reach you to sell you something using a prerecorded call.
  2. DON’T hit any buttons trying to get to a human or to indicate that they have reached one.
  3. If your phone service supports it, and unfortunately the list that does is short, sign up with NoMoRoBo.

Since most robocalls are coming from illegal telemarketing operations which are generating their calls from overseas, it makes law enforcement next to impossible. This one is likely going to come down to phone providers implementing software that blocks spoofing so disabling these guys at the source. But it’s an arms race and the prize is worth it, since current estimates have scammers getting hold of around $350 million annually from bamboozled consumers. So. These are likely going to keep coming. Sorry.

You can always just not pick up unfamiliar 800 numbers. This can be tricky as a business though. Let ’em ring a couple of times before you do pick up, they may hang up before you even get to them. In a mass dial operation, someone else may pick up before you do and your number will be listed as inactive when you don’t. You can search 1-800 numbers here – 800notes to check if you made the right call.

Beat them at their own game.

If only. But this would waste even more time! Pretty funny read though.



To sum up.

Get a human?

“No. No. No, thank you. Would you please remove us from your list? I appreciate it. Goodbye.”


Hang up as quickly as possible and move on. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, don’t even pick up.


Alison Christie

With a Major in witty comebacks and a Minor in motherhood, Ali is all about the words and has been sharing them liberally with all and sundry for years. Oh! The stories she could tell, but for those million dollar non-disclosure contracts she has signed. Moving swiftly on.