Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learned Helplessness And Telemarketing Services

Last month, Ron Ashkneas of the HBR Blog Network published an entry that spoke about 'learned helplessness'. This was the result of his encounter with a colleague who was dealing with a company that felt too restrained by government regulations. For telemarketing services, that's a feeling that many in the industry are far too familiar with.

Ask yourself honestly. How many times have you heard or read about the DNC (or some other form of regulation from telecommunication watchdogs) whenever the subject of telemarketing gets brought up? If you've had plenty encounter with critics, it's likely that these are raised up to prove that the industry is dead. So, what about organizations who have long depended on telemarketing services to generate their B2B leads?

In several cases, they would feel just like the companies being described by Ashkenas. They get afraid to act about it because the government might send the FBI after them or something. Interestingly enough, while he admits that the fears have some basis, he points out that such basis may not be 100% factual:

Of course all of these explanations are at least partially true. However, around these kernels of truth, managers build concentric circles of excuses that absolve them of accountability for change or improvement. So instead of finding creative ways to deal with regulations or budget cuts, they accept the status quo and blame external conditions for the problems that exist.”

If you think this applies to telemarketing, you'd be right. For example, while DNC registers generally do forbid telemarketers from calling the numbers that have been registered, businesses are generally ineligible for such protection. The cases of exception tend to be very specific and limited only to small businesses where phones are used both for domestic and business purposes. You think a telemarketing firmthat's all about delivering quality sales leads would neglect to notice such a glaring detail? If telemarketing was completely dead, then these lists would've been configured to register businesses bigger than your local night club.

The truth though is they don't, plain and simple.

Despite that, the fears continue to circulate and businesses and telemarketing companies remain intimidated by the very scary threats to sue. The blog cited describes this sort of behavior as 'learned helplessness' where initially factual fears blow out of proportion and become excuses that cripple an entire business organization.

Frankly, if you're going to be paranoid, you're better off beingparanoid about your competitors and the quality of your targetedsales leads instead of the regulations surrounding telemarketing. The key to answering this behavior, as pointed out in the blog, is having the courage to challenge these fears.

For starters, clean up your contact data so that it doesn't contain any DNC-registered numbers. In the case that someone still threatens to sue even if you do, politely challenge that threat by investigating the claim. For all you know, you might just be facing a gatekeeper's bluff. What's amusing is that even your average telemarketing firm has already covered these basics. If you're planning on outsourcing the best (or already have), then why continue to worry? Don't be intimidated by exaggerated fears and keep learned helplessness to a minimum!


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