Sales Enablement, Technology

Don’t Fall for the “Local Presence” Deception

My phone rings all day. Often times I’m in meetings with clients but at other times it’s sitting open on my desk while I’m getting work done. When the phone rings, I look over and there’s often a 317 area code dialing in. However, the number isn’t in my contacts so I don’t see who the person actually is that’s calling me. With over 4,000 contacts in my phone – synchronized with LinkedIn and Evercontact… I pretty much identify everyone calling me.

But this is different. This is an outbound sales company spoofing the 317 area code to try and improve the chances of me picking up the phone. In speaking with Bill Johnson – our client, an expert in outbound sales, and founder of Salesvue, this is known as local presence and it’s the latest panacea of outbound calling technology.

Here’s an example from RingDNA:

The problem with local presence is that it immediately begins the handshake between a salesperson and a prospect with a dishonest engagement. In this day and age, where consumers are demanding more transparency and honesty from companies, this is in direct conflict.

Local presence is prevalent and growing in the industry… and it’s also deceptive and stupid in my opinion. I’m not trying to beat up on RingDNA – they’re one of hundreds of vendors selling this solution and the first that I found a video for on YouTube. But while the RingDNA video touts the number of phone calls answered or returned, it doesn’t provide insight into the damage done to your sale by using this deceptive strategy.

Doug Hansen, Sr. Manager of Account Development of Turn, unwittingly picked up a call from a vendor who had previously touted their local-dial capabilities. Instantly he thought less of the vendor’s integrity even though he knew in advance what they were doing.

I have over 30 years experience in sales, including prospecting on the telephone and have experimented with probably as many different techniques for garnering returned calls or pick-ups as anyone. While I understand the attraction of local numbers to appear on a prospect’s caller id, I find that doing so often tips the prospect they have been misled they do pick up and creates a barrier of negativity that needs to be breached at the outset. While these techniques are effective in getting to the prospect faster they also transmits that we are less transparent and forthright in our approach and undermine the path to a trusting relationship.

Doug said it perfectly. Even if the response rate increases when you’re dialing in with the same area code, I can’t imagine that you’re conversion rate is increasing with it. I also can’t believe that you’re not putting the entire sales cycle at risk by starting off on a deceptive foot.

Trust and authenticity are keys to every sale. Don’t risk them by spoofing area codes!

5 Comments

  1. 1

    Yeah, this is one of those tricks that’s past its expiration date. 18 months ago this fooled me on the first couple of calls, now anything that doesn’t hit caller ID gets ignored…

  2. 2

    While this could foreseeably be seen as deceptive, it’s hard to ignore the increased answer conversion rate and it’s use is extremely applicable during circumstances where A. the client has requested a call or B. the end user is a consumer. Now, if you’re selling into the C-suite or enterprise accounts, don’t use local presence. But in terms of trust, I had used this tool in a prior position (at that time selling to consumers) and trust was NEVER lost. It would get brought up all the time – “Are you guys local” in which I would tell them about our intuitive phone system and end that phrase with “pretty clever right?” We would both have a chuckle and continue with the sales call. Meanwhile, the answer rate increased over 400% in that particular application. 4x the opportunities to close business. I’ll take those odds any day.

    • 3

      There are a number of deceptive marketing strategies that improve response and conversion rates in every medium, Ryan. You take the odds, I’m not a fan and don’t believe good companies with great products and services need to do things this way.

      • 4
        • 5

          I’m not an attorney, but I don’t believe there’s any legal requirement to force an area code to match the actual location of the caller. Think about your own mobile device… I could be in Las Vegas and call someone and “317” still will register.

Leave a Reply