The Mutual Benefit of Permission Marketing

The phone rang Friday and despite the fact that it was a number I didn't recognize, I answered it. It was a telemarketer for Discover Card. (They need to get their information systems in sync – I already have a Discover Card) My mind began to wander, thinking if I should tell her the truth or use one of my favorite bogus excuses, when she surprised me… she asked permission to continue. I was floored! She introduced herself, said she was with Discover Card, and asked permission to continue. Wow! I told her I already had one, but that I really respected the fact that she asked for permission to finish her pitch.

Most companies probably don't do this because they are afraid consumers will say "no, don't continue". But that is the wrong attitude. If you are only selling because you can dominate a phone conversation and weasel someone into buying, you aren't picking up long-term happy customers. By taking the Discover Card approach, both parties benefit. I'm not scared to answer the phone if I know it's only going to take 5 seconds and then I can politely say no thanks, so I'm better off. Discover Card isn't wasting the time of its telemarketers by making them talk for 30-45 seconds before getting a "no," and they probably don't get hung up on as much which means the job is less demoralizing. So they end up being more efficient and having a happier work force, while customers benefit too. Chalk one up for permission marketing.

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