One more reason why people think telemarketing loses out to the internet and social media is the number of respondents. Think of it like this, you have a particular office problem (glitchy servers, messy accounting documents, or even just dirty toilets). What gets you more advice from more people? Is it the single telemarketer or the thousands of users online who’ve had and resolved similar problems?

At first glance, you might think that crowdsourcing the response would win out. The reality though? Some problems are best solved via a dedication conversation.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have a dedicated conversation on forums or social media. But the fact of the matter is, people overlook the disadvantage of hearing so many voices in the same room:

  • Good advice gets mixed in with the bad.
  • Debates might spark with neither your approval nor intention.
  • Follow-up questions get lost in the din.

These are just some of the issues you’ll encounter. For simple solutions like how-tos or quick fixes, asking a bunch of online strangers might be enough. Though as a problem gets more complex, so does the need to narrow down correspondents and talk one-on-one.

Then again, perhaps it’s because they underestimate the complexity of a problem that they automatically consult online resources and crowds first. Luckily for you, these are usually the situations that indicate a prospect is more open to a real expert than what an anonymous crowd might say.

  • Know the number of details being spared – Remember, the internet is guaranteed public space (privacy complications aside). Whenever you see someone post a problem, how many details does he/she spare? Do they tell everything or would they rather discuss some of it in personal messages?
  • See how well the responses are working – Some advice is easier on paper than it is on practice. This is what you need to keep in mind if a prospect insists on getting their answer from something like a online board. One need only view the many technical help problems to see why a one-on-one conversation would be more helpful.
  • Check if the poster is even replying – If a poster has grown silent throughout the thread, it might be an indication that they may no longer be reading. And even in the case that they’re lurking, you’ll at least be better off communicating to them directly. Don’t waste any more time as a voice in a crowd.

Don’t overestimate the value of online conversations (at least the crowdsourcing ones). They’re good for other things like exchanging ideas or even generating big ones. But if it comes to resolving issues, a more complex problem is best solved one-on-one.