Respect Your Existing Business Relationship Status

Unrestrained Marketing Can Drive Business Away

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In most cases, businesses face legal restrictions when it comes to calling residential phone numbers. Aside from some carved-out exemptions, the one key exception is if there is an existing business relationship (EBR) between the company and the person they’re calling.

So, if you’re only making existing business relationship calls, you may think you have nothing to worry about, right? Not so fast. Just because it’s legal to dial that number doesn’t mean you should.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Simply put, calling too often or for the wrong reasons could turn an EBR into a former EBR. This happened when I retaliated against a company that was overcalling me—and others could do it to you.

I used to have a subscription to the local paper. Since I only had time to read it on the weekends, those were the only days I received it. This was an ideal arrangement, one which I would have gladly continued if not for overzealous telemarketing.

One evening, during dinner, I received a call from an enthusiastic employee of the paper. They had a special upgrade price so that I could enjoy the paper all week long. When would I like to start?

I explained that I only wanted the paper on the weekends. Receiving it when I didn’t have time to read it would only serve to make me feel guilty—either for wasting time by reading it or for wasting money by not reading it. The agent laughed and said she understood.

A few months later, I received another call with the same offer from a different rep.

I assumed turnover had occurred and no one recorded my preference for weekend-only delivery. (So much for an effective customer relationship management system—CRM). I repeated my explanation and again stated my desire for weekend-only delivery.

These calls became a regular occurrence, and I grew increasingly annoyed. Sometimes the interval was two or three months, other times only a couple of weeks, and once it was two days. They always came at an inopportune time.

No one seemed to realize that no matter how often they offered it, I wasn’t going to upgrade my subscription. Even when they offered it at no added cost, I declined, citing my concern over landfills.

I even asked them to stop calling, but they ignored me.

My frustration with their continued phone calls grew to where it exceeded my satisfaction from reading their paper. I realized that by canceling my subscription, the EBR provision would soon cease to be a factor, and I would have legal recourse should they continue to harass me.

I expected that the ploy to cancel my subscription would give me one final opportunity to stop the phone calls—and continue receiving the paper, without telemarketing. I was wrong.

Incredibly, when I called to cancel my subscription, no one asked why or gave me a chance to explain that their incessant calls irritated me.

Most surprising of all—especially given their proclivity for phoning me—no one made a follow-up call, even though there was a window of opportunity for them to phone and win me back. They never tried.

But the unwelcomed calls stopped.

I do miss the paper—at least a bit. Though I’ve switched to other national and regional news sources, I’m out of the loop on local happenings. But it’s a small price to pay to avoid the incessant dinnertime interruptions to sell me something I’ve repeatedly declined.

The paper thought they were safe by placing calls that met all legal requirements, but they were wrong. Their unbridled calling turned a happy reader into an irritated former reader.

I wonder how many other subscriptions they lost because of their legal, but unrestrained, calling practices to people where they had an existing business relationship ?

Marketing Tactics Success Tip

When it comes to contacting customers, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Sticky Series books, including Sticky Customer ServiceSticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Leadership and Management featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.