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$80! need a creative idea for telephone survey

Customer Question
I need an innovative method...
I need an innovative method for getting three pieces of data from major retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Macy's, etc. I need to get an estimate of their Same Store Sales, Traffic, and Sales Volume for the current month in comparison to the same month last year. For example, "Our store's sales are 1% higher than June 2009, 2% less people came to our store this month than June 2009, and we completed 3% more sales transactions this month than June 2009." That is an example of the answer I need from any store employee who picks up the phone.

My question for you is HOW to get that data. I will be collecting this data over the phone, and obviously most employees don't like to talk about specific figures to strangers. Nevertheless, it is possible to get a general idea (or even specific figures) without crossing ethical or legal boundaries. If someone has a creative and conversational approach, they can learn this information over the phone. Researchers are doing it all the time. How? I am willing to pay you well ($80) for such an approach.

In-person, getting this data is relatively easier. I have succeeded by going into the store and asking "Would you mind taking a survey about the recession?" Then I ask them questions about how the business is doing and, inevitably, they end up telling me how sales are doing this month, etc. But over the phone, the instant you say "survey" or "three questions" the phone hangs up. This approach does not work over the phone. I need another approach.

* A failure method is asking about employment (you're always sent to human resources = dead end... and they never tell you how well sales are doing since it's not relevant, and confidential besides).
* Another failure method is pretending to be a student. Cliché, plus people get suspicious about why a student would need to know sales and traffic for the current month since it doesn't matter for learning academic principles.
* Another failure method is pretending to be a freelance journalist. No one trusts freelance journalists, no one wants to talk for fear of being quoted, and no one would dare quote a sales figure to a journalist, ever.

So, does this make sense? I need another, more innovative approach that won't fail (i.e. not a method like the above). What is a great, telephone-based way to get the three pieces of data WITHOUT sounding suspicious or signaling red flags? Companies are allowed to give this information out, but they generally don't like to and they advise their employees likewise, just for general safety reasons, not because it is actually illegal or unethical to talk about it, they just don't usually talk about this stuff. That's why the information is so hard to get. It's legal and ethical to obtain, but you can't send off flags otherwise people will opt out. I will pay you $80 if you give me a good method. Think. Be creative. The answer could be a couple sentences... they just have to be innovative! What can you say on the phone (legally and ethically) to get people to talk about sales/traffic/volume without alerting their suspicion?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Business and Finance Homework
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Answered in 2 hours by:
6/30/2010
Business Tutor: jogann,
 replied 8 years ago
jogann
Category: Business and Finance Homework
Satisfied Customers: 1,682
Verified

Hello,

 

Try these approaches:

 

Call and identify yourself as a researcher trying to determine the impact of the economy on the shopping habits of Americans at major retailers. One criteria of the study is to compare current month to prior month same-store sales, traffic and sales volume. You could tell them this is a baseline study that will require follow-up periodically to help take the pulse of the American consumer. Ask for their assistance, and let them know that their participation will help advance understanding of consumer behavior during different periods in this new economic climate. Tell them that once the study is completed, you will provide them with a copy of the report.

 

Another approach would be to align yourself with an industry association. Contact the association and tell them what you're trying to do. Ask if they would be interested in the results of your study and tell them you will provide them with the results. Then, when you contact the retailers, you can do so by telling them you are working in concert with XXXX Association to help the industry understand what's happening.

 

Here's how I reached CEO's of Fortune 500 companies for an interview (23 of them out of 30 I contacted). I did my homework and figured out what they were doing - what their key speeches had covered in the recent past, or some new product launch they were approaching. Then I contacted the Public Relations/Media Relations Staff. I put together a customized email or script for when I called them, and approached each of them explaining with whom I was working and the information I needed. I told them I needed to interview senior C-level officials, and that XXXX would be publishing the interviews. I told them of the audience (in the millions) who would be reading the articles upon publication, based on the distribution base of the publication, and that I would notify them upon publication and provide them with copies of the article. It worked, I landed those interviews, and then I delivered on what I had promised. A year and a half later, I still hear from them via email or phone when something new is coming out or they want a new article.

 

These are ideas for you to try. I hope you find them helpful. If you do, please press "accept," as this is the only way I am credited for having assisted you. As always, I appreciate bonuses and positive feedback.

 

Best regards,

 

Jo

 

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Thanks for the attempt. I've tried this method, but it is actually the worst because employees are always told that they cannot talk to a researcher and shouldn't mention any figures about sales. I need an approach that does not involve directly asking for the information, because once you do, they hang up. No matter how prestigious the organization, all employees are told that they should not reveal data. Or worse, they transfer me to a manager who talks even less and/or forwards me to corporate headquarters a complete dead-end). The only way it comes out is through "slipping out" in a conversation. I need a conversation idea. Being a researcher, journalist, and student doesn't work. I need an approach that looks as casual and "average joe" as possible.

I would happily pay you if this idea worked, but it won't. It's always company policy not to talk about figures. No matter what the association affiliation, if the interviewee feels like I am asking for official or quotable or researchable information, they won't say anything. I need an approach that is much more subtle.
Business Tutor: jogann,
 replied 8 years ago

Hi,

 

I'm going to opt out because this method worked for me, but it was because the claims I made were legitimate - I truly was gathering the information for an industry group and a recognized publication. So although that worked for me, whatever your purpose in gathering the information, it apparently is not working for you.

 

I'm a big believer in the honest and up-front approach. Subterfuge isn't my style - so I'll opt out in hopes that someone else can assist you in finding something that works for you.

 

Best regards,

 

Jo

 

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Relist: Incomplete answer.
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