Why Don’t Companies Want to Talk to Anyone?

Posted by James Obermayer on Dec 7, 2017 3:53:58 PM

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It’s truly strange when companies enter the stealth mode. They hide phone numbers, dial-by-name directories, and employee names, but still imply you’re important to them!

I called someone I know, but had not spoken to in some months. The result pushed me over the edge in frustration. This is how it went.

Them

“Hi, we’re very interested in talking with you; please press 1 for sales and 2 for customer service.” No other choices were given from the automated attendant.

Me

I pressed 1, as sales is usually staffed.

Them

“Hi, this is sales; how may I help you?”

Me

“I’d like to talk to Tim Kelly please.”

Them

“Do you know what department Tim is in?”

Me

“He is the VP of Sales.”

Them

“Can you repeat his name please?”

Me

“Yes, it’s Tim Kelly, the VP of Sales, your boss.”

Them

“Oh, I don’t know about that, I am just in sales. Do you want to leave a message and I will try to find him? What’s his name again?”

Me

“His name is Tim Kelly, the Vice President of Sales for your company, your boss; the guy you all report to.”

Them

“Okay, may I have your name sir?”

Me

“This is Jim Obermayer from the Sales Lead Management Association. May I leave a message?”

Them

“Can you spell your name sir?”

Me

“J A M E S  O B E R M A Y E R”

Them

“One more time please.”

Me

“J A M E S  O B E R M A Y E R”

Them

“And what is your company?”

Me

“Sales Lead Management Association. Do you want me to spell it?”

Them

“That would be very nice sir.”

Me

“S A L E S  L E A D  M A N A G E M E NT  A S S N”

Them

“One more time please.”

Me

“S A L E S  L E A D  M A N A G E M EN T  A S S N. May I go to his voice mail?”

Them

“Oh, I can’t do that sir.”

Me

“Why?”

Them

“I don’t have his extension.”

Me

“I should have known.”

Them

“Do you have a message?”

And so, it went. I had to repeat the phone number three times, but they could not take a message, or transfer me to Tim’s voice mail box. 

When I politely mentioned the difficulty in contacting him when Tim and I finally connected, he said, “Yes, we should look into that. Let me give you my private number so you can reach me next time.”

It appears that the private number is very much a treat; meant only for those closest. I took down the number. I was tempted to ask him to repeat it at least three times.

I’d like to think this is unusual but it isn’t; it’s common. So, I ask, why is this happening? Why do companies hide? They publish photos of their team (but often don’t show a last name; what’s that about?). They leave contact information on their website (but often not the phone number, except in some hidden nook, screened back).

The automated voice messages directed to those calling into the company literally drip with sincerity about wanting to talk to the caller, as if they get the most credit for trying but never really connect with you.

When I ask the person I finally reach why they hide phone numbers on their website or operate without a phone directory or voice mail box, they mysteriously say that someone else made the decision not to show their phone number, except at the bottom of the website. They aren’t sure who made the decision, but they say they will look into it.

And then one day you call the direct secret number given to you and the number is no good. You go to their site and it has disappeared, and the company URL is now available for purchase. What a surprise!

It’s as if they wanted to develop a product, get investors, build a website, hire salespeople, ignore marketing people and then intentionally hide from anyone who doesn’t want to buy immediately.

I think if I were a Shark Tank investor, one of the first things I’d do is look at the pitching company’s website, call the company, and find out if they really want to be in business. This issue seems to be an epidemic among American-based companies with entrepreneurs born here. It seems the younger the management staff, the more of an issue it is to actually talk to someone.

It makes sense to me that if you’re in the business to sell product, it’s a courtesy to include a corporate phone number on your website in places people can easily find it, such as next to your address and map. A dial-by-name directory on your phone system is required. Voice mail boxes are a reasonable business expectation. And for goodness’ sake, make sure those who do answer the phone are trained in basic phone etiquette.

If you don’t do this, don’t be surprised when you go to work one day and the front door is locked.

James Obermayer is founder of the Sales Lead Management Association.Obermayer, J. 4x6 003.jpg

Image purchased from iStock Photo


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Topics: B2B Sales


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