Decades ago I worked as a trainer in an outbound call center (read telemarketing shop). I’d climbed the ranks quickly from modest dinnertime annoyance to being in the position to train and shape common sense in others.

It was an interesting period. We handled fundraising I later considered dubious, sold pay-per-view boxing, offered free trials on psychic hotlines. Looking back, it all seems surreal

But clearly, in spite of how we all feel about this industry the sales tactic works. If folks didn’t buy, others would stop selling. It’s supply and demand. Some folks apparently like to make purchasing decisions this way – or at least are likely to make them.

As a trainer, I tried to instill what might substitute for the instincts so many lack.

“If you hear a baby crying in the background, apologize and offer to call back,” I’d say, explaining those calls would bear no fruit and create bad will.

Around that time, I offered friends and family a suggestion on how to combat the annoyance of telemarketers.

“Play along, act interested and keep them on the line while you do something else. You’ll burn their conversion rates,” I said.

Ever so briefly I worked in a sort of boiler room with a fellow at the next desk who assumed a different accent depending on the name that popped up on the screen of his dialer. I think he introduced himself by different names – illegal, I’m fairly sure.

It’s been a long time since I received a live telemarketing call, long enough that I don’t recall. But each election season for most of the past decade I’ve been hounded by campaigners who want to get me out to vote. I don’t shop for candidates this way. In fact one year, during the primaries I advised a caller “Your candidate has my support, but if you don’t stop calling, I’m sitting this one out.”

They didn’t, I did and I don’t recall if the candidate won or lost – just that I felt disgusted by the whole process.

These days, the callers are so-called robo-calls, and they light up my cell phone regularly. At least I’m not being rude when I hang up abruptly, but I always wonder – “Who likes these sorts of things.” They’re so insincere. Generic. Annoying.

Automation is great, when done well. But then…

Recently I’ve started to take note of robo-emails. They’re certainly the natural progression of things, I suppose, but boy are they insincere – particularly when the ones responsible to dispatching them lack the care or training or to it correctly.

Case in point.

Car dealerships struggle with their reputation.

roboemailSlick salesman, inflated labor rates, take your pick. It’s an industry folks live to hate. But where would we be without them? Car vending machines? I still think that television commercial is a joke I just don’t get.

I’ve had my share of disappointments as has anyone who’s ever purchased a vehicle this way – and of the last four new cars I’ve had a role in acquiring, three came off local car-dealing behemoth Billy Fucillo’s lots.

This email however, was particularly hard to swallow without sharing.

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It’s just poor execution. Email management can be a great thing, when used correctly. In this case – it’s just embarrassing.
While I’m sure it doesn’t happen as often with luxury car brands, it reflects poorly on the brands – both KIA and Fucillo’s.

Effective or not, robotic marketing is a dinosaur


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