The Cold Call Is Back, or Worse than Ever, Hi Pilita, and it's James here

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The Cold Call Is Back, or Worse than Ever, Hi Pilita, and it's James here

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Click here to see other videos from our team. Try refreshing your browser, or The Cold Call is back, or worse than ever Hi Pilita, it's James here, chirped a man who wanted me to talk to an executive from a company I had never heard of about a topic so dull I can't remember it. What I do remember is a monstrous sense of outrage that he had the gall to call at all. Didn't he know I was busy? This was a disproportionate response. PR people have always been cold-called, as have sales people and pollsters from all kinds of companies. The difference was that COVID seemed to make a lot of them go away. They are back as offices fill as the pandemic starts to easing off in many places, and the offices are steadily refilling. I am not sure if the rest of us are ready.

Working from home has persisted to an extent that few thought possible. People are working at home for an average of one day a week, everywhere from Singapore where it is actually 2.4 days and Canada 2.2 days to Brazil 1.7 Turkey 1.7 and Greece 1.2 And for reasons that don't make sense, being cold-called about a work matter at home feels more invasive and irritating than it did when everyone was sitting in the office five days a week. Even an uninvited call in the office feels more annoying after such a long and welcome lull. After calling James the PR man, I realized I had become so dependent on texts, chat messages and emails during the epidemic that I had dialled back, as it was, on making unsolicited phone calls, even to people I know.

When I called a perfectly pleasant professor I've known for years on his office landline the other day, I found myself half hoping he would not answer and wondering if he would be annoyed if he did. There was no need to worry because he did not pick up. He was working from home. I finally understand why a lot of younger workers prefer to text or email rather than make a phone call. It feels awkward to start again after the habit of dialling at will fades. It is mildly astonishing that outright cold-calling has endured at all. It was so widely loathed before COVID that authorities around the world tried to rein in. The outbreak caused an explosion of phone and text scams that have hardened hatred of it further.

The idea is to make sales calls more trustworthy, according to Lior Shacham, PicUP's chief executive and co-founder. What we do is to make the call from cold-calling to something more respectful, personalized, and engaging for the customer. His clients include large EU telecoms groups and a U.K. bank. Listening to him talk made me think of simpler times, like those that forged the veteran U.S. journalist Gay Talese. A few years ago, I heard him talk about his early days in The New York Times newsroom of the 1950s, where an older reporter warned him not to let newfangled technologies get in the way of talking to people in person. Or as the older man put it: Young man, stay away from the telephone.