Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a shocking statement: "According to statistics, most consumers have a problem with telemarketing calls." You're probably one of them, right? They call during dinner, leave uninteresting or completely untargeted messages, and have no understanding of the word "no." In one year, the Federal Trade Commission gets nearly 18,000 complains about telemarketers, and the Direct Marketing Association receives another 4,000 marketing-related complaints per month.
Yet outbound calling to cold or even luke-warm lead lists remains a promising way to market your goods or services. In a recent poll conducted by SCi Sales Group, telemarketing was second only to email marketing as the most effective channel for qualifying leads. When asked by B2B Magazine, marketing professionals stated telephone follow up was the most effective lead nurturing technique.
For professionals to believe in the power of telemarketing, they must be having success. Businesses are doing it right, and for you to be successful, you must follow their lead in proper planning and preparation.
Here are 12 ways to execute a telemarketing campaign that even the employees making the calls can believe in:
- Set your goals. What is it exactly that you'd like your leads to do? Are you looking to warm leads into a pipeline or do you want them to take a certain action, like buying a product or registering for a service demonstration? When the goals of these calls are clearly laid out, it will dictate the other steps you must take to execute an effective campaign.
- Know your target market. In the past, anyone could pull out the phone book and start dialing down the list, but we don't have to convince you that there's a lot more to building an effective list (see that point below). Take the time to put together one or more customer personae that spell out what your ideal customer would look like. Where would they live? What do they purchase? What is their lifestyle?
- Define a lead. Know what criteria you want someone to fulfill before you consider him or her a lead. You may have a great conversation with one person, but if he's no closer to buying, he shouldn't yet be considered a warm opportunity. Ask yourself these questions: Do they need your product? Can they afford it? Are they likely to buy in the foreseeable future?
- Create a phone script for telemarketers to follow. The key here is to keep it simple. You don't want a generic script that doesn't apply to your target market, so be sure to use trigger keywords that will resonate with the potential customers. Come up with your compelling offer and prepare rebuttals for the times when you run into objections.
- Build your list from worthwhile sources. Buying lists from brokers is an easy way to get thousands of names and numbers in your hands. But buying these lists blindly from someone that doesn't know or understand your business can be a costly mistake. You're wasting your employees' time. and agents can easily become discouraged with constant rejection from poorly-sourced prospects.
- Hire quality salespeople. The success of an outbound calling campaign lies within the people making the calls. You're not just hiring someone to dial for dollars; you want a proven sales team who can convey passion about fulfilling your prospects needs and can thrive when challenged.
- Set phone guidelines. Describe how many calls you'd ideally like to put out there in a day. You'll need to specify the number of times each number should be called, and on what kind of schedule (morning, afternoon, evening). You must also consider the pros and cons of leaving a message should your prospect not answer.
- Train your agents. Training individuals to recite the script you've provided isn't the beginning and end of telemarketing training. Your representatives must be comfortable enough and savvy enough to be able to banter with a prospect regardless of what is on the script. They must be comfortable handling objections with grace while maintaining a friendly and conversational nature. This is something that will come with time and continued learning, but there are ways to role play and challenge them before they get on a call that will help them prepare for such situations.
- Track your results. You don't just want to track quantitative results -- number of calls made per hour, number of sales made per agent, etc. You also want to track the qualitative results, including prospect feedback that is useful for future scripts, upselling opportunities, and trends in call times.
- Make adjustments. Don't wait until the end of your campaign to make adjustments. Make script changes based on your prospects' feedback as you go along. You might also consider giving different agents different scripts to test them against each other and see how they perform.
- Follow up. Be sure that you use the appropriate software that allows you or your agents to follow up promptly and in the manner expected by the customer. Data should be kept on which type of prospects do and do not respond positively so that future interactions are relevant and timely. If you've scheduled an appointment or sent over a pertinent whitepaper, be sure to keep track of that correspondence. Any in-person exchanges or meetings should also be accounted for.
- Build momentum. Use your failures and successes as a benchmark for how you should be doing things. Telemarketing campaigns shouldn't be a "one and done" effort. You probably already know that building a sales pipeline is a lengthy process that requires constant follow-up and ongoing engagement. It's suggested that telemarketing campaigns reach optimum "opportunities per day" after 14 weeks.
Have you embarked on a telemarketing campaign for your small business? How did it go? What best practices would you share?
Photo source: datadirect.com.au