“But if I answer, Telemarketers will call more!” Myth

City Telephone Room

So I was on a telemarketer reporting site, as I sometimes do, and I found this little nugget:

One thing is certain: Answering or calling back unknown numbers and scammers will get you more and more and more calls.

Well, I hear that sometimes, but is it really ‘certain’? I really doubt it. The reason is that an call that is simply “answered” call isn’t profitable. A “buyer” is profitable. So if you answer, and buy something, then this nugget would be true since you’ve become a profit source rather than a sinkhole. In that case, be assured they will call back.

For telemarketing, like other sales methods, a “lead” has to have something of value. The “lead” has to be the right age, gender, income bracket, market segment, business type, qualified to need “X”, etc. The “lead” needs to be selected so that a sales person would have the expectation that the target’s needs is in line with the companies product set.

Now, let’s try to sell leads of people whose only qualification is “they answered the phone” in Area Code ‘202’. Is that valuable? Let’s consider some basic questions of such ‘leads’? Now, is it a person answering the phone? An answering machine? A FAX machine? A dial-in modem (Yes, I remember these from my ‘wardialing’ days)? Is there any indication that the “lead” has a need that my product or service can address? And if I do call it, is there any assurance they will answer it again?

How much would you pay for such a list? Or would you take the easier and cheaper option of having your autodialer call all the valid phone numbers between 202-2XX-XXXX and 202-9XX-XXXX?

Well, if you think like me, that list would have no value. Especially since I can just call all the numbers anyway. My autodialer will monitor the VoIP signals and tell me which numbers answer. It will also tell me which ones ring or are busy, and will call them back later. It will do that if fed numbers from a list, or just blasting everyone. That’s what autodialers do. Unfortunately for us, they do that too well.

Given the spiels of the robocalls, it’s also obvious that they have no clue who they are calling. So there’s no evidence it’s come from a purchased “lead” list. Make no mistake, these telemarketers aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their little black hearts. It’s to make a profit. It makes no sense to spend money on a useless set of people that “answered the phone” when your autodialer will do the same thing for almost nothing.

And remember that autodialers are programmed to call numbers until they answer. If you answer, you’ve satisfied their programming, and it will be less likely to call back. So you’ll just get the one call, rather than have it call you 20 times in the same day waiting for you to answer.

So feel free to make a telemarketer unhappy. Answer the call. Get to the human. Torment them to your hearts content.

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