Telemarketing with numbers blocked or with held

Number Blocked
Blocking phone numbers on outbound telemarketing calls immediately gives the impression that whoever is calling does not want to be called back, identified or looked up online. Which begs the question “Why is that?”.

It’s very common for telemarketing companies to block their phone numbers when they make outbound telemarketing calls.

This is usually seen as “Spammy” especially because of circumstances where:

  • Sales calls are being made to phone number on CTPS/TPS as the telemarketing company or business making cold calls in house does not want to be identified and therefore potentially reported for breaking the laws regarding unsolicited cold calls.
  • Sales calls are made regardless of whether someone has asked previously not to be contacted again which is also breaking the law with regards to Privacy of Electronic Communications Act.

Let’s face it any form of unsolicited contact in a sales and marketing context is “spammy”.  If it is unsolicited emails then it’s junk email and can be reported as spam. Same can be said for junk direct mail or unwanted social media messages and adverts.

However the only rules around unsolicited cold calling is a) to not call people on the do-not-call register (CTPS or TPS) or b) not to call people who have asked you not to call.

So a cold business sales call is not “spam” in the true sense of the word if the call is to someone who is not on the CTPS or hasn’t asked previously not to be called in future.

However my take on the word “spammy” is along the lines of low value self promotion ie; something that is not professional, credible, researched or valuable.

Sometimes it could purely be that a reputable and credible company has a telephone infrastructure that genuinely cannot be configured to display a phone number in line with organisation set up (ie; switchboards, multi sites) so the easiest option is to not present the phone number in the first place.

It is more likely to be that telemarketing is being done via an outbound call centre or even a freelancer network that is not geared up to receive incoming return calls.  It’s simply much easier to have all sales calls presented anonymously to callers.

I had a telemarketing call myself a couple of weeks ago that sticks in my mind. I was vaguely interested in the proposition but it was an inconvenient time for me. I asked for a phone number to call back on at a more convenient time and the caller kept persisting that they would call me back and kept pressing for a time. This put me right off them. I then asked outright why I could not call them back and the telemarketer firstly said that they were not allowed to receive incoming calls and then secondly that he didn’t actually know a number for me to call back in on. OK then, game over, now I am definitely no longer interested.

If I reflect on my own current set up there are some lessons for me to learn here.  My default setting is to dial with number withheld so some of our cold calls are anonymous however I have the option of displaying whatever outbound CLI I chose aligned to different campaigns. It takes a bit of effort for me to organise at the beginning of each calling shift in line with various outbound campaigns planned for the day but it is well worth it so I do this as much as possible.

Inbound calls from outbound telemarketing calls are incredibly valuable.

Building in caller line presentation and an inbound number for people to call in on especially if used with leaving messages with colleagues or via voicemails or with email gives benefits:

  • People get the impression that the telemarketing call is less “spammy”. It is a real company with more credibility and professionalism than calling whilst withholding numbers.
  • People call at a time that is convenient for them. Therefore they are more prepared to have a telemarketing conversation to explore value propositions. They are in a better frame of mind generally.
  • It gives confidence that if they ever did take up a business proposition that they would get a good level of customer service if the telemarketing calls start the relationship in a professional way.

Telephone technology is a brilliant tool to convey the right impressions but with telemarketing it depends how it is used.  Anyone who spends a bit of time an effort thinking about this properly could get much better results from telemarketing efforts in my experience.

Does anyone have any thoughts and experiences to share?

This post has been bubbling away as a draft for a few months after some discussions with other telemarketers. I finally decided to finish it after seeing some conversations on twitter today :)  Thanks for the inspiration @robertaward today with your tweets and conversations with people on this subject.


  • Ashley Price

    It’s a good point about TPS, but they are pretty much a toothless tiger. No company has ever been fined for calling TPS-registered numbers. The TPS expect the “victim” to do all the work, (getting names, company names, telephone numbers, noting time of day of the calls, etc.)

    In fact I have heard that some companies actually target TPS-registered numbers precisely because they get fewer calls and they know they won’t be fined.

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