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Ten top ways to use telemarketing

July 31, 2009 by Andy Dickens

Most people mistakenly believe that using telemarketers is limited in use to cold calling sales activities. But telemarketing can turn be used to turn many opportunities into business, there a literally hundreds of ways to do this but these are our Top 10 ways to use telemarketing.

ONE: Appointment Setting

Appointment setting is, always has, and always will be, a primary way that companies generate new business. Organisations usually place a great deal of emphasis on appointment setting, and also a significant proportion of their budget. Why do they do this? Because there’s no more effective way to close a sale than a chance to sit down with a prospective client in a face-to-face meeting. Appointment setting is a cost effective and intelligent use of telemarketers to generate new business for your organisation.

TWO: Seminar Booking

In recent years, telemarketing has proven itself to bring exceptional results for those individuals and organisations that deliver seminars. It doesn’t matter how good your seminar is; if delegates aren’t booking you’re losing out. Using a telemarketing team to book your seminars means getting the good news out to people that could greatly benefit from attending your seminars.

Working from existing mailing lists or cold calling people with industry links to the seminar subject or topic is a great way to put a telemarketing team to work for your seminars.

THREE: The Follow Up

Using follow up calls is a powerful and effective way to make the most of your direct mail or email marketing. The recipient has already had the opportunity to consider your offer by mail and now telemarketing offers a renewed chance to capitalise on that offer for both parties.

Follow Up calls can also be made after literature or sales enquiries, chasing up interested parties and converting prospects that may have otherwise dithered undecidedly about purchasing your goods or services from a brochure. Follow up interest by using a dedicated telemarketing team to convert interest into action.

FOUR: Market Research

One of the truly time-tested uses of telemarketing is market research, often used for product review and customer feedback. However, these days it can be used to cover a full range of quantitative and qualitative data collection.

Using the latest integrated technology, telemarketing interviewers can handle everything from small executive level surveying to mass nationwide customer feedback questioning. Doing Market Research via the telephone is a highly cost effective method of conducting large-scale market research and can cover vast geographical locations from a single base. Of course, given the right permissions, data gleaned from your market research telemarketing can be used to target the prospects for your next telemarketing campaign.

FIVE: Customer Reactivation

Your organisation should keep a record of all current customers and all those people that were customers but are not actively buying from you. Telemarketing is an effective way to reconnect with and reactivate your dormant customer database and using data that you already have in your systems. By using telemarketing, your company can win you up to 50% of your past customers back!

SIX: Collections

Outstanding invoices and missed payments can really cripple a business and hinder a company’s progress and development. If you’re struggling to recoup outstanding sums, then telemarketing can be an effective method of collecting what’s owed to your company. Working from a list of your debtors, a tele-collections team can identify individuals or companies that owe your organisation money and ensure that you have the correct contact details for them. If you then wish to take a payment, these can be handled through an automated system or passed through to your own payment teams.

SEVEN: Selling Advertising Space

When you’ve got space to sell, you can’t rely on people just coming to you. You need a team of dedicated telemarketers that can directly sell your space to the people that need to advertise. This isn’t simply cold calling; it’s designing a campaign to target those businesses and individuals that might benefit most from the opportunity to use your advertising space. A team of experienced telemarketers can target likely clients and more effectively approach hundreds of potential clients, rapidly improving your chances of new business generation.

EIGHT: Database Cleansing

The information in your database is quickly out of date. By using telemarketers to work through your data, you can correct, delete or amend the details of your existing customers, leads or prospects. By making sure that your data is up to date and accurate, you can increase the rate at which your sales staff can make sales. Data cleansing may also be a legal requirement in various industry sectors, so it also keeps your nose clean with industry’s regulators. Make your existing data work for you by purging useless existing data.

NINE: Lead Generation

Using telemarketers to generate leads means increased sales revenue and greatly reduces the amount it costs to make a sale. When you use telemarketers to generate your leads, you free up your sales teams to do what their good at – which is making sales!

TEN: Selling to Existing Customers

Last, but certainly not least, telemarketing provides a successful route to improving sales by selling directly to those that are already using your products or services. Existing customers are much more easily converted because you don’t need to convince them of your expertise, reputation or benefits.

With an existing customer, you can use telemarketing to offer extended service, upgrades and further features on something they’ve already bought, or offer them a completely new product or service. If the existing customer is happy with what they bought from you in the past, the worst that can happen is that they will simply reject your new offer. But since they were willing to listen in the first place, it wasn’t a hardship and you can still call them again in the future with new offers.

Telemarketing offers organisations of all sizes the opportunity to expand and develop their customer base with reduce costs and impressive results.

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The top 10 disastrous mistakes that telemarketers make

June 23, 2009 by Andy Dickens

The phone rings. Your prospect is busy, but they lift the receiver, secretly hoping for an interesting opportunity to distract themselves from another daily task. As they answer, they hear a brief silence while the auto dialling system finds an available telemarketer to take the call. IF, and only IF you STILL have the prospect on the phone at this point - you must capture their attention, or risk wasting the chance to convert the captive listener.

At this point, 9 out 10 telemarketers make a mistake that lets the potential sale slip through their fingers. By making any one of the following TEN disastrous mistakes, you can squander important sales opportunities.

ONE: Failure to Introduce - You know the old adage ‘People Buy From People’. It’s vital to connect with the human being at the other end of the telephone, to communicate with them. If you begin your telemarketing call without properly introducing yourself, you will experience a long pause, followed by:

“Sorry! Who are you again?”

Having proven yourself incompetent of even the civilities of a basic conversation and being embarrassed by your mistake, you’re unlikely to turn the conversation around and sell the prospect anything at all.

TWO: Failure to Improvise – They say in the Military, that no battle plan outlives first encounter with the enemy. In other words, if you follow your pre-planned strategy, without being prepared to shift and adapt your tactics to your opponent’s manoeuvres, you’re dead meat.

The same goes for Telemarketing. You need the capacity to go with the flow of the conversation, rather than be restricted by a fixed script. The prospect may challenge you, they may attempt to distract and hinder you, you must be prepared to adjust your strategy and adapt your response likewise.

THREE: Pretending – One of the stupidest mistakes that a telemarketer can possibly make is to pretend to be someone they are not. They sometimes elevate their status or plainly lie about who they are and why they are calling. It may well work initially, you may get past the gatekeeper and you may even connect with the prospect. However, the moment that your prospect finds out the truth, your credibility will crumble and your chances of converting them into a sale will disappear.

FOUR: All Talk – Everyone has experienced the telemarketer that doesn’t even wait to hear if you are ‘Mr Jones’ before they begin force-feeding you their scripted rant. Does that technique EVER work? Telemarketing is not just talking, it’s also listening, and it’s communicating and connecting with a person. If the first time you give the prospect a chance to speak is after you’ve spent 30 seconds talking at them, consider the following words as the appropriate response from the prospect:

“No Thanks”

People like to believe that someone actually wants to hear their thoughts and find out how they feel. If you do all the talking, you’re simply cutting them out of a conversation that ends with the prospect making the desired decision.

FIVE: Getting Stumped – If you do not know all the possible objections to the prospect taking the desired action, you are not properly prepared to do your job.

Poor Telemarketers learn the top objections, but occasionally, a witty and observant prospect throws an objection or question at you that you’ve not covered in your weekly sales meetings. The weak telemarketer stumbles; they fumble the call, mumbling a feeble excuse. Another lead wasted. Preparation is everything; you can never do too much homework on the product or service that you are selling.

SIX: Cost Too Soon– A common mistake of the telemarketer is to start discussing price long before the prospect is ready to hear it. The greatest and most insurmountable objection is the cost.

If this topic is proposed too early, without the value being felt by the prospect, without the objections being fully and thoroughly dealt with, then you will scare away your potential sale talking about the cost too soon. It’s a matter of timing and it’s easy to make a mistake.

SEVEN: Missing the ‘Yes’ – Another common mistake of the incompetent telemarketer is a failure to engage the prospect in a positive chain of responses, in other words, having them say ‘Yes’.

The primary aim of the call is to set up that Yes Chain and make a sale. If you allow the prospect to set up a Chain of No, or you fail to stimulate the prospect to say Yes, you’ll struggle when the moment of decision arrives.

EIGHT: Fear of Asking The Big Question – If you’ve done your job well, if you know your business, you will not fear to ask for the sale. Professional telemarketers reach this point with the confidence of a job done well.

But inexperienced or incompetent telemarketers are often afraid of this moment. That’s patently ridiculous, if you’ve engaged the prospect in a Yes chain, if you’ve dissolved any objections, if you’ve helped them to imagine, consider and feel the value, all you need do now is ask.

The weak mistakenly make this part of the telemarketing conversation the most tense, uncomfortable moment for all concerned, seriously diminishing their chances of making the sale with yet another disastrous telemarketing mistake.

NINE: Eating ­– A telephone mouthpiece amplifies any sound that it picks up. This means if the telemarketer is chewing gum or eating, the prospect is treated to an audible irritation, projected straight into the brain through their ear. Not only is this a sign of gross professional incompetence, it’s rude. Plus, it’s very hard to make a sale with someone you’ve just irritated.

TEN: Time Wasters – This mistake refers to both the telemarketer and their prospect. Do not waste time on people who cannot buy. If you called a house and a ten-year-old child answered the phone, would you try to sell them something? Of course not! Don’t waste your time. Only connect with the decision makers. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your breath, and making another big mistake.

At Virtual Sales Limited, we ensure that all our staff are highly trained, so that they avoid any of the above mistakes, and represent your company on the telephone in a professional and credible way.

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Top Ten Tips For Getting Past The Gatekeeper

June 16, 2009 by Andy Dickens

If you are involved in the Telemarketing industry, you will undoubtedly be familiar with the term ‘The Gatekeeper'. This is the individual whose job it is to prevent people getting access to the Decision-Maker. Typically, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some companies, it is even the receptionist or switchboard operator.

Here are ten top tips for getting past the Gatekeeper:

TIP 1: THE GATEKEEPER IS NOT THE ENEMY

Whoever is acting as the Gatekeeper between you and the Decision-Maker (DM) is just doing their job.  Part of that job is managing demands on the DM's time.  Seeing the Gatekeeper as the enemy creates a self-imposed psychological barrier that it will be difficult, if not impossible to remove.

TIP 2: SOUND SENIOR

Management never gets treated the same as the workers.  If someone believes that you are important, they will treat you differently.  Using a relaxed and calm voice, speak slowly and articulately and don't divulge more than is necessary.  During the opening seconds of your conversation, if the Gatekeeper senses that you are their senior, they will not risk offending you by probing too deeply.

TIP 3: THE GATEKEEPER IS A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE

Remember that whilst the Gatekeeper's role is to restrict interruptions to the DM's daily routine, they do know a great deal of important information about the DM and the business.  Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to IS the decision-maker.  Check your facts with them.   Ask simple, non-intrusive open questions to try to build up a picture of both the Gatekeeper and the Decision-Maker.

TIP 4: DON'T SELL TO THE GATEKEEPER

The Gatekeeper has several distinct ‘powers'.  One of them is the power to connect you with the right person.  However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. When the Gatekeeper asks ‘Can I tell him/her what it's regarding?' - do not try to pitch your product or service to the Gatekeeper. Firstly, it will waste your time.  Second,  it will irritate them because they will just be waiting for an opportunity to tell you that they cannot help you.  No matter how desperate to connect with the DM you are, do not sell to the Gatekeeper.

TIP 5: ENGAGE DON'T EVADE

Don't be awkward, don't try to sneak past the Gatekeeper, the chances are you'll get cut off at the knees.  Actively engage with the Gatekeeper.  Don't get too personal, don't pry, but you can gently probe.  If you can't get through to the DM, engage the Gatekeeper so that they have a positive and friendly attitude towards you when you call again.  You're unlikely to become best friends, but building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you.

TIP 6: EASY DOES IT

If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behaviour and choice of words.  All of these will make an impact on how the Gatekeeper perceives you and therefore how they receive your request for access or information.  Take some deep slow quiet breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to put yourself at ease.  When the Gatekeeper answers, smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease.

TIP 7: DON'T SCRIPT, PLAN.

Unless you are a particularly good actor, don't use a script on the Gatekeeper.  They are likely to hear the scripted tone in your voice.  Instead, plan how you will approach them; what approaches you might take depending upon the range of responses that they might make.  Plan your responses to key objections but leave yourself room by improvising the dialogue.

TIP 8: WHAT'S YOUR TRANSITIVE VERB?

Do you know that whilst you are speaking to the Gatekeeper, you are consciously or unconsciously employing a transitive verb to do something to them? A transitive verb is, if you don't know, a verb that can be done to someone else such as ‘I CHARM You, I AMUSE You, I PRESS You'.  In Oral Communications, verbs are used as tactics to get results from other people.  It's essential that you be in control of the tactics that you are playing.  Think about what tactics you will play throughout your PLAN.

TIP 9: IS SHE EXPECTING YOUR CALL?

This is largely irrelevant because you want to speak to the DM nonetheless.  However, in order to bypass the Gatekeeper, use the DM's first name only.  Ask ‘Can I speak to Jenny please?', it sounds like a personal call. Remember your goal is not to inform the Gatekeeper; your goal is to bypass them to get to the DM.  Next, they might ask ‘Is she expecting your call?'. Simply and easily reply ‘Yes, I sent him some information through from our Head Office, we need to discuss it before close of business today'.

TIP 10: THE LAST BEST SOLUTION

It's not the best solution, and this tip often splits Telemarketers down the middle. You can always ask if you can be put through to the DM's voicemail.  Just like in a sales environment, quickly point out a benefit for the Gatekeeper of doing this.   If they say that the DM is ‘out to lunch' or ‘in a meeting' and you've already called several times, point out that you've already taken up a lot of their time and ask if they can put your through to voicemail to save bothering them further. Of course, Marketing is a personal art and what works for one, will not necessarily work for another.  These Top Ten Tips should be the starting place for developing your own personal method of bypassing the Gatekeeper, rather than seeing them as cast iron instructions to be rigidly followed.

Cold-calling: a competitive edge for SMEs

January 28, 2008 by Andy Coughlin

Things are stacked against smaller enterprises in so many ways when it comes to winning business. Getting that all-important first customer, having the financial muscle to fulfil sizeable orders and being 'allowed' to bid are all factors that SMEs face or have faced.  

It's crucial to focus on the areas of strength within a business. There are many and maybe we can discuss others in future posts. But for today, I wanted to raise the question of cold-calling: often a necessary evil. I'm lucky because my calls get screened by colleagues, but occasionally a salesperson gets through and I sometimes accept that the caller is simply doing their job, so I take the call and listen. 'Listen' being the operative word, because invariably these callers talk at me with little consideration for me the person on the other end of the line.

They tend to all make the same mistakes. My name is on a list of thousands, and the caller is just working down the list. Twenty seconds earlier they did not know I existed, and now they are trying to sell me corporate hospitality at Wimbledon.  They don't know what we do as a business. And they don't have the most basic grasp of whether I have any requirements or even whether I can spare a couple of minutes to hear what they have to say.  And when a stranger asks 'How are you?', you know it is a tele-sales person.

How can this help a small business? Of course, some SMEs need to do cold-calling. But they are probably not doing it in call-centres. And they are probably not selling hotel rooms today and IT solutions tomorrow. So they should know their products inside out. They should also have some personal experience of how people use, or benefit from their products. And in small teams, perhaps even with the owner/manager or MD sitting with them, can prepare their calls, discuss and agree the sort of questions that should determine whether the prospect might be interested.  Some call centres work on a numbers game. Bash the calls out and the sales will come in eventually.  But SMEs can offer something in the way they sell that mirrors what they hope to deliver - a more personal service.

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