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How to Fail at Telemarketing

Justin Rawley | Sue Pownall

Hello, (Mr./Mrs.) ListID, my name is _______, and I’m calling on behalf of NewTrails Cancer Foundation…

” — Hello?”

” — Hello! Mrs. … uh … Gunda…murian? My name is Jasmine and I’m calling on behalf of the NewTrails Cancer Foundation.” The reader’s voice inflected upwards with uncertainty, almost into a question. “We’re working to help patients who are fighting cancer pay for medications, treatment and hospital bills not covered by insurance.” Jasmine tilted her head towards outstretched fingers to admire her freshly applied manicure as she spoke. ” — As you know cancer is a devastating disease for its victims, not only physically and emotionally, but financially as well. Many can’t afford to pay the complete cost for treatment nor can they always choose the best options. If we send a pledge kit out to you in the mail, can we count on you to…”

” — Well, Jasmine, while I certainly appreciate the work that you and your organization are doing, I’m not a U.S. citizen and the tax laws in my country don’t allow us to make donations to charities outside our own country…”

The listener’s ears registered only the speaker’s rolling accent and lack of the desired ‘yes’ response. Her index finger followed the flowchart past the ‘if yes’ diamond to the ‘not sure/maybe’ symbol, then to the ‘no’ box. ” — We understand that times are tough, but keep in mind, we’re helping cancer patients who otherwise…”

’ — click.’

The telemarketer blinked back mild surprise at the abruptness with which the connection cut, but after a brief recovery, moved her finger over to the call list where it traced down a block to the next name…

” — Hello Mr. McKenzie? My name is Jasmine…” she inflected as much ebullience in her voice as she could when she read the spiel, hoping she might garner better results.

” — Oh, I work in Oncology Research at MegaMetro Medical Center, so my fundraising money already goes through the Medical Center to one of our local charities. Our cancer outreach program does a great job so I can see first hand how my money is being used to help our patients.”

Jasmine stated very matter-of-factly this time, ” — we understand that times are tough, but keep in mind, we’re helping cancer patients who otherwise wouldn’t be able to…”

’ — click.’

She felt her brows furrow and her lips pucker into a frown. Hmm. Next name on the list…

” — Hello Mrs. Smith…” Jasmine read as eloquently as she knew how and by the end of the first paragraph, she was certain she had this one.

” — Dear, I’m one of them…” Mrs. Smith related impassionedly her story of surviving cancer the previous year. ” — I know what an ordeal it is and I’m still paying the bills. Perhaps in the future, once things are more settled for me, then I can think about helping others, but right now, it’s all I can do to get through my own situation.”

” — Now, Mrs. Smith,” Jasmine nodded forcefully, putting the proper emphasis in her words. ” — We do understand that times are tough, but keep in mind, we’re helping cancer patients… think about it,” she deviated from the script for the first time, ” — Cancer patients! Without your help, people who otherwise won’t be able to afford their treatment or their medications, people who HAVE BEEN ABANDONED by our healthcare system and left to suffer needlessly! How you would feel if you were in that predicament and had no one to turn to!”

” — excuse me miss, …did you hear me?”

” — Well, if you can’t make the commitment, that’s fine. We’ll respect your decision…”

’ — click.’

Jasmine mused out loud in wonderment, “how can people be so rude?”

About Justin Rawley

Justin Rawley is a neuroscientist and musician by training with an interest in writing and also Slavic Languages, which she studied in Minsk, Belarus, and Hajnówka, Poland. She currently works in North Carolina in the United States.

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