An Optimized Sales Pitch

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Coming home from work, I got another phone call from a Cablevision Systems Corp. telemarketer pushing Optimum Voice and a $20 discount on video.

The woman was a born sales shark. Honestly, she could sell ice to an Eskimo. She gushed about the new voice-over-Internet protocol service, raving about number portability and the availability of battery backup, as well.

And that’s while I had the television on in the background — and had, by then, seen four commercials in the span of 20 minutes for Cablevision’s high-speed Internet service, Optimum Online. That’s not to mention an earlier prerecorded voice mail on my answering machine, again pushing VoIP and the video discount.

As much as I hate telemarketers, I appreciated that given the nature of the pitch for the voice service (and the discount), they already knew that I had digital video and their modem. Targeted marketing does exist.

I appreciate that they knew something about me as a customer and my potential needs. Again, some might call this intrusive marketing, but I call it savvy, given that Verizon Communications Inc. is getting ready to offer its own triple play of voice, video and data in my neighborhood.

Back to the telemarketer: Just to rattle her cage, I said, “You know, I’m thinking of switching over to satellite.” After 10 seconds of deafening silence on her end of the phone, she asked with total disbelief, “Why on earth would you want to do that?”

She jumped right in with numbers that showed, for example, that Optimum Online was the No. 1 choice over Verizon’s digital subscriber line service here.

I told her I had to run out and she said she would call again. And I’m sure she will, because I didn’t take the bait.

But my point here is this: At no time in my history as a cable customer have I ever seen the marketing heat turned on so high. And I’m glad to see cable become more sophisticated in its marketing pitches.

Cable has learned the hard way from its losses to DBS (which seem to be abating) that another big marketing battle is brewing with the phone companies.

Surprisingly, in my neighborhood, I have not seen a scintilla of advertising for Verizon’s bundle, which I find very surprising, given it’s supposed to fire up next month.

Cablevision is smart to push hard with targeted campaigns to lock in its existing customers and to upsell people like me with the new phone offering and video discount.

So I’ll let you know what the Verizon pitch is like when I get it. And I’m betting that day is soon.

Let’s not forget that Verizon has deep pockets and is willing to sell competitively priced bundles with discounts — and those deep pockets are filled with dollars allocated for marketing.