When we have a bad day, we call Alabama

Published 12:04 pm Saturday, May 14, 2016

To the editor:

Telemarketing can be one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Calling people or business owners randomly to sell a product or request a donation is rarely welcomed. Having been in sales for more than 25 years, I try to be sensitive to this difficult work. Consequently, when a solicitor calls me I am always polite even though there is rarely a time I am in need of what the other person is trying to sell me on the other end of the phone. I thank them for the call, acknowledge the difficulty of their job and wish them luck. The relieved and appreciative voice on the other end of the line is very rewarding. My hope is I have somehow helped this person have a better go of it for the rest of the day.

Random solicitation phone calls can be annoying, there is no doubt. However, the people who do this job have decided to submit themselves to the all too common anger, belligerence and nasty rudeness of the person answering the call. My thought always is and I’m tempted to share with the rude person on the other end that there is a way to end these calls forever. They could move to a communist country where free commerce is discouraged and in some cases even illegal. Then they would never get a call from an American owned business trying to sell their service to a business or person they are sincerely trying to help. However, I’m not one who believes responding to rudeness with rudeness is ever a solution so my sarcastic comments are never spoken.

This is not an essay suggesting that everyone be nice to telemarketers. However, you might try it to see how different it feels. It doesn’t mean you have to buy, it’s just a kinder way to communicate with a working man or woman. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. As an experienced telemarketer I will share that your hospitality puts a smile on our face and helps us get through the challenging days.

So what is the purpose of this article? I wanted to have the opportunity to thank the entire state of Alabama.

In our business we call several states. We call states in the north, south and west. While I try not to judge callers individually there is no question that certain states have a higher percentage of rude people answering the phone of their business. Out of respect to the nice people in these states I will not share which states seem to be the rudest to telemarketers. However my coworkers and I regularly discuss these states. The rudeness is not limited to owners or executives. It often extends to the gatekeepers who may be a secretary, receptionist or a spokesman for the owner. Occasionally the gate keeper will hang up on me two words into my discussion not knowing if I am trying to sell print advertising or a person waiting to offer to buy the business for three times what it’s worth. As silly as that may seem after 33 years in all areas of business I promise you it happens. I know because I have worked for the company who bought these businesses.

At our business when we are having a bad day being rejected by many rude people we all do the same thing. We call people in Alabama. It’s not that our close percentage is any higher meaning we sell the same amount of business in Alabama as we do in other states. We call because of the consistent Southern hospitality we receive from the person answering the phone.

The people in Alabama seem to have an ingrained understanding that kindness and compassion is only sincere if offered to everyone. Even to people calling you in the middle of the day to try to sell you something over the phone that you don’t need. In other states when we reach an owner we may hear a very curse “What do you want?. It’s often followed with rude rejections of varying degree.

In Alabama when we ask for the owner it’s far more common to hear “You got ‘em, how can I help you feller?” Moreover, the gatekeepers typically extend the same courtesy. I’m often called sweetie, hun or sugar even when rejected. Owners often even apologize for not being able to help us with heartfelt sincerity. Sometime I think it’s just impossible to be rude when speaking in a slow friendly Alabama drawl.

Let me share how this makes me feel about your state. I want to root for the Crimson Tide, Tigers, Blazers, Chargers Bulldogs and Hornets to name a few, pray for the health and prosperity of all residents and dream of retiring in your wonderful state. When I call I can see the frothy waves of the gulf shore, a tall glass of sweet tea, neighbors on front porches, a Southern Belle in a sun dress, a family bar-b-q and cotton farmers discussing the daily challenges of keeping the country clothed in sweaters, shirts, coats and socks.

Be proud Alabama, you deserve all the praise you receive. You prove that politeness is still alive and well in some parts of our country. I appreciate ya’ and have a blessed day.

Rick Hercules


St. Cloud, Mo.