I was in the middle of a work trip to Las Vegas (aka: I had already finished my photo shoots for the day and was enjoying the rest of my afternoon with a drink in hand) when my phone rang. Not recognizing the number I picked up anyway. The following is a transcript from the short conversation.

ME: Hello this is James.
Caller: Hi, I am looking for the owner of the website JamesPatrick.com
ME: Yes, speaking.
Caller: Hello sir, I am calling on behalf of [COMPANY NAME HERE]. I am hoping to talk to someone in your marketing department about your company’s efforts to drive traffic to your website. We at [COMPANY NAME HERE] specialize in successful online marketing, search engine optimization (note: it was somewhere around here that I had stopped listening).
ME: Oh, wow that is fantastic, I really appreciate the call as that all sounds very impressive. Let me ask you, do you happen to have my website open right now?
Caller: No sir, I do not.
ME: Would you mind opening it up on your computer real fast?
Caller: (Hesitates) Okay, I suppose I could do that. Alright, it is up. (Another pause). Oh, so it is your company?
ME: Sure is. What are the main categories listed on my site?
Caller: Photography, Speaking, Marketing…. oh.
ME: Ya.
Caller: You do marketing.
ME: Sure do.
Caller: And it says here that you do website strategy and marketing.
ME: Correct.
Caller: So… you’ve probably got this all figured out.
ME: Yup.
Caller: Sorry about that. We’re not really told what the site is or is about when we call.
ME: So [COMPANY NAME HERE] is asking you to sell their services without knowing anything about the prospective clients you are calling to sell to?
Caller: Pretty much.

I can only assume (unfortunately) that after this call, the caller picked up the phone and called the next person on their list of people to sell to that day. However, suppose for argument sake that [COMPANY NAME HERE] saw the same lightbulb that went off over your head while you read this.

Suppose for a second that instead of mass calling any website owner they could find and getting a very low ROI, they instead sought out those who they felt they were best suited to connect with and help.

Also suppose that they empowered their sales people to do a bit of research on the company they were selling to. Thus allowing them to tailor their approach and their pitch to make it relevant to the people that picked up the phone.

It reminds me of an e-mail I got a few years ago from an IT company. The first sentence of the e-mail read: “I am not sure if you have an IT department with your company but…”

Doing homework now shows a couple things. It shows curiosity. That you want to know about the company. It shows investment. That you care about the ins and outs of the company. It shows effort. That you are willing to do the upfront legwork before a sale is even on the table for discussion.

James Patrick