My employer issued me two phones – an iPhone, and a desk phone. I rarely use my desk phone. Most of the time I don’t pick it up when it rings because in 99% of the cases it is a vendor cold calling me to sell me something.
Today I made a mistake of picking up my desk phone when it rang:
Salesperson: “Is this Oleg?”
Salesperson: “Do you have a minute? Is now a good time?”
I already got interrupted and lost my train of though.
Me: “Sure, a minute.”
Salesperson: “I work for a company that developed an ETL solution that can use Kafka and Spark to literally teleport your data from your database to any analytics engine without you writing any code! Is this something you would be interested in?”
I know both Kafka and Spark, and I know that neither supports quantum teleportation. I try to contain my laughter but politely decline. I didn’t catch the name of the vendor but a Google search for “etl teleport data” reveals a few outfits, at least one of which is attempting to achieve quantum physics nirvana with Apache Kafka and Spark.
Me: “No, thanks, I am not interested in teleportation at this time.”
I find this experience humorous because I am the wrong person for this type of a sales pitch. I can see through the bullshit. I am a capable developer and architect. Finally, at various points in my career, I found myself on both sides of the presentation.
On the consulting and solution and the sales side of my career, I helped prepare and make presentations to IT executives. I contributed to the bullshit my boss told clients to get the project. I could also see how some executives eyes would glaze over the moment the bullshit started flowing.
Oh and one more thing: I have a patent on configuration-driven ETL. I know at least a thing or two about zero-code solutions. I know enough to tell you that configuration complexity gets to the point where it is easier to just write the code.
I have a few suggestions for more effective cold calls.
Stop acting like my time is less valuable than yours
My desk phone used to ring about four or five times per day with the same caller ID. After about a week of getting annoyed, I picked it up. The sales person on the other line asked me if it would be ok to email me an infographic that will educate me on the topic she represented so we can have a follow-up webinar to discuss more details.
The worst part of that particular call was that it was automated. When I asked her why do I see her caller ID on my phone multiple times a day she told me they use some software that robodials until the call is picked up before connecting to a sales agent. told her to please stop calling me, and most certainly don’t call me to ask me for permission to email me, and better yet don’t call or email me.
I receive hundreds of emails per day. Most of them are spam from vendors trying to sell me things I don’t want. Several times a day I have to scan through all of them and make sure I don’t miss an important email that is relevant to me.
By sending me unsolicited emails and by cold calling me using robotic software you are indicating to me that you feel my time is not valuable. You are saying that interrupting me all day with unsolicited emails and cold calls costs you nothing but a small chance of you winning a gig is worth it to you.
Cut the crap and learn about your audience
I wonder what genius thinks they are going to win the projects if they tell potential clients they achieved quantum teleportation using Apache Kafka. I am sure some people will bite the bait and sign the contract, but I am the wrong person for buzzword infused sales pitches that mean absolutely nothing.
Please learn your audience before you cold call or email me. Show me you value my attention. Google my name. My career is on full display on this website and it is SEO optimized. My name will show up on Google. Do your homework and show me you value my attention.
FUD about open source is so 1990s
In the early days of open source software enterprise IT departments were scared of it. They felt better if they got a support contract or a proprietary solution. Trying to make your sales pitch about how open source is difficult to deal with or is dangerous is just not going to fly in 2018. You are better off these days participating in open source than fighting it.
Community participation is better than sales
Cold calling me for small chance I might find your solution valuable to me is highly unlikely to yield any profits to either one of us. When I need something, I will look for it. I will eventually find a solution on Stack Overflow or Github. You are much more likely to get attention from people like me by contributing to both.
So, stop calling and emailing. Make yourself discoverable in the community by participating in it.