Considering the word “telemarketing” and workshop announced

This lovely note landed in my inbox recently:

“I love your blog. So well-written and informative. It would be great if you wrote a blog about the stigma against telemarketing/telemarketers.I say we should take back the title “telemarketer” and OWN it! I have decided to embrace the title and not be embarrassed about it anymore.”

What a great letter to receive! It really energized me. It also reminded me of how, years ago, when I had a team of salespeople on the phone the majority of each day, we often had this discussion – how to champion the word “telemarketer”.

It is such an innocent and straightforward word – the combination of two other words, telephone and marketing. It was tarnished with its dismal reputation when the phone began to bring single-minded, non-relationship based selling into our homes.

Can any of us remember the first time we received one of these calls – when we got up from the dinner table, or hushed our children, or turned the sound down on a favorite program to answer the phone (remember – no voice mail or call display, perhaps no answering machine, so we did answer) and discovered someone rushing through a rehearsed script designed to get us to spend money immediately? I bet that first call was shocking. I bet I purchased whatever they were selling just to end my discomfort!

Then it caught on and there were more and more of these calls, interrupting what had always been “precious” time – time spent with family, friends or by ourselves enjoying necessary downtime. We came to resent these calls and associate the word “telemarketing” with something intrusive, rude, pushy and extremely unwelcome.

But based on its definition – and I hate to be the one to point this out – we are all telemarketers! In business we all use the phone as a marketing tool – and if you think you don’t, you are kidding yourself. All of us, regardless of whether we are entrepreneurs needing to establish our businesses, or highly paid executives needing to champion our corporations – create a marketing message by how we communicate on the phone.

Telemarketing, in a business-to-business setting, is about informing, communicating, building and respecting. Every time you dial or answer the phone as it relates to your job, you are marketing yourself and your company. If you are cranky and rude … well, that’s your marketing message. If you are energetic and interested … . If you are straightforward and precise … . If you are tired and uninspired … . However it is you communicate on the phone, whether in your voice mail messages, your conversations, how you answer your phone or how you don’t return calls – it is all telemarketing.

While I can’t embrace the word “accountant” or “lawyer” or “professional organizer” or “real estate agent” or a wealth of other words that indicate a skill set and expertise, I can certainly embrace the word “telemarketer”. It is what I have studied and what I know how to do really, really well!


And one last thought:

The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy. -Florence Scovel Shinn, writer, artist and teacher (1871-1940)

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