Funny Ways to Answer the Phone to Telemarketers: Tips to Try
Molly Hitchens studied business for years before launching her career as a journalist and analyst specializing in original and innovative business planning. She shares her expertise through her work with The Idea Trader as well as through in-person speaking engagements at universities around the country.
A Common Occurrence
Somehow, for some reason, telemarketers still exist. You probably know the experience pretty well: a phone number appears on your screen, a phone number that you don’t recognize.
It usually happens at the most inopportune times, such as when you’re in the bathroom, in the middle of cooking dinner, or already on the phone with someone you actually want to talk to.
And sure, you don’t have to answer the call. But it could be from someone important, or from a delivery driver who needs access to your apartment building.
Within seconds of picking up the phone, you’ve been able to discern that this is not a call that you need in your life.
This is a call from a telemarketer, most likely trying to sell you diet pills or a cheap vacation to a C-list destination.
You could just hang up the phone, but they may call back. Even more importantly, telemarketers can’t hang up, not unless you’re outwardly insulting or offensive.
You could choose to see this as an opportunity, an opportunity for joy in your life. Why not have some fun?
Here are a few funny ways to answer the phone to telemarketers.
We’ll just make a quick request that you never insult a telemarketer or make them uncomfortable. After all, they’re just a working individual who needs this job to survive.
But a little harmless fun can be a nice break from your daily routine.
Ask Lots of Questions
If you find yourself on the phone with a telemarketer and you have no intention of buying what they’re selling, then try being the most inquisitive customer ever.
Ask questions about every single aspect of the sales pitch.
How much will this cost, in total? Do you think my 4-year-old nephew would enjoy this trip? How many people have said yes to your offer before?
Start Some Small Talk
Another way to get creative with your telemarketer interaction is to speak to them like a real person, and not just a salesperson with a set script to read.
Ask them how their day is going, or about how long they’ve been doing this particular job.
If you’d like to get even more creative with it, come up with some icebreaker questions, the kind you’d use in the office or at a slow-moving dinner party.
For example, ask who their favorite member of the Beatles was. Or maybe you’d like to ask them about the most interesting place they’ve ever visited.
The sky's the limit here. Just make sure to continually derail the conversation from the subject at hand.
Another positive aspect of this technique is that the telemarketer may actually appreciate the conversation as a break from their regular workday.
Build a Persona
If you’ve been getting a lot of calls for telemarketers lately and they just won’t stop coming, then you may want to take a few minutes to build a persona that you can slip into during the next call.
It’s really just for fun so don’t lose sleep over the idea. Just try to think of a personality type that you could mimic to potentially confuse or derail the caller.
We’ve listed a few basic persona ideas below in case you’re running short on ideas.
The Mogul persona is based around a sort of cartoony rich person who has plenty of cash to spare. The Mogul will probably seriously consider the telemarketer’s offer but ask some vital questions along the way.
If you’d like to imply that you have several vacation homes around the world, all the better.
You may also want to explain that you’ll have to run everything by your accountant and your personal business manager.
This will give you an easy out from the conversation while also letting you have some fun with the situation.
The Hermit persona is built around the idea of a person who never leaves the house, for one reason or another.
The Hermit would most likely be happy to speak with anyone on the phone, regardless of whether they’re trying to sell something.
Make your enthusiasm obvious but still believable, trying to form a personal friendship throughout the sales call.
You may even want to mention how long it’s been since you’ve left the house. Try to cite a number higher than 300 days.
Do you remember that movie Yes Man starring Jim Carrey before he left planet Earth for a while only to return several years later with a very large beard?
That’s the basic premise of this persona: say yes to everything, EXCEPT the sales pitch itself. Do not give out any credit card numbers or personal finance information.
Get into the headspace: pretend you have one of these jobs and take the obstacles as they come up.
But otherwise, be the ultimate optimist, making the telemarketer feel very good about how they’re doing with the call.
The Twist on the Twist
Our last suggestion for funny ways to answer the phone when a telemarketer calls is to only give simple, monosyllabic answers to all of their questions.
This should keep the conversation going for a few minutes, at least.
When the sales pitch is nearing its end, just go ahead and reveal that you don’t speak English, in a manner of your choosing.
The reward is the reaction of the telemarketer.
In closing, we’ll say again that you should never go out of your way to make someone else’s day more difficult, but if you find yourself in a situation where you just can’t get away from telemarketing calls, feel free to play a little practical joke.
If you like, you can even apologize to the telemarketer once you’ve finished up your performance.
If you’re looking to block these kinds of calls completely, try speaking with the telemarketer when they call, saying very politely that you’d like to be removed from their calling list.
Many companies will be more than happy to comply. But in the meantime, it seems like telemarketing calls are simply here to stay.
Cope with them as you see fit.