It is fair to say that there is a wide variance in the quality of telemarketing briefings before we kick off a new cold calling campaign. Inevitably, not every client knows how to brief a telemarketing agency in order to get the best results.
Client briefings come in all shapes and sizes. And perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t always the ones that go into huge depth that are necessarily the best. Whether you are carrying out an in-house telemarketing campaign with internal callers or briefing an external telemarketing agency, there are a number of important elements to a good briefing for cold callers.
Our Ten Tips on how to brief a telemarketing agency are shown below. Follow them and you will improve the results of telephone marketing activity.
As a minimum, the factors below will support better results:
- Get involved. Don’t abdicate
Whilst you would hope that a professional telemarketing agency should be, to some extent, self-sufficient and know their business, that doesn’t mean that you should abandon them. Put the time in up-front to brief them thoroughly (see the rest of this blog for tips) and ensure that you have regular communication. It’s about continuous improvement. It’s unlikely that the first call will be perfect. So, listen to sample calls (if provided). Read the notes provided. Make sure you prioritise any teleconference review calls or meetings. Give constructive feedback to improve the understanding of the callers and the success rates. All manner of things will arise throughout a campaign that wasn’t covered in the initial briefing. That’s inevitable. And, the more available you are to provide input, the more the agency can do its job for you.
- Work out what success looks like
What are the telemarketing objectives and targets for the campaign? Why are those targets achievable? These are two important questions for which answers are required. We all want new business but, just because you farm out your lead generation to an agency that supposedly knows their stuff, it doesn’t mean that results will automatically follow. The machine needs oiling. That means really thinking about what has gone before. It means evaluating your position in the market and making reasonable assumptions about what’s possible and what’s not possible. Good agency account managers know how to get the best out of a telemarketing campaign. But, they’re not miracle workers and if they don’t have the right input married with realistic expectations, especially in the early days, the lead generation won’t be successful. So, work out what success looks like and decide how much time might be required and what budget you are happy to put aside to ensure that it has the best chance of success.
- Determine what drives success in your market?
Now, we hopefully know what success looks like. But, what’s likely to drive that success? Of course, a good caller will help a lot. However, even they will fail if the input isn’t right. What is going on in the marketplace that they are calling into? Is the sector for your products and services growing or shrinking? Is it highly competitive or are there few direct competitors? Is the nature of the industry quite conservative or Innovative and open to change? Is there changing legislation that encourages companies to act and make changes? And, how does what you’re offering fit within these circumstances? It is important to put the calls into context. Therefore, a strong understanding of the marketplace will definitely contribute to the likely results of any campaign. Ideally, this isn’t something you find out as you go along. Some early customer or market research may prove useful to help refine the proposition and save time and money in the long run.
- What issues / challenges do your decision-makers have?
What keeps your potential customers up at night? Pain is a strong motivator for change. If you can, therefore, tap into what worries your prospective customers, you’ll have a better chance to sell to them. So, what can you tell your agency about the buyers that they’re likely to call? Why should they listen when they’ve got a million priorities? The trigger is likely to be something that is causing them sleepless nights. Often, this is similar across job roles and industries. Do you know what that is? Do you know what’s most likely to pique their interest for an initial conversation? If you can communicate this to your agency, they’ll have a far better chance of delivering the results you require.
- What are the demonstrable benefits of your products / services?
Too often, sellers talk about what they do. They blab on about what their services are or what their products offer. Whilst that may be important, more often than not, they talk about features not the true benefits to customers. Customers want to hear about how you helped others similar to them, either in their role or in their sector or both. They want to hear about things you’ve done for customers to help them not just about what you do. This is where many clients go wrong when briefing their agency. They struggle to understand that a telemarketing call needs to be a dialogue based on some frame of reference. That means stories. It means talking about situations and providing examples. It doesn’t mean a long list of things your business offers in terms of products or services. So, work out your real benefits for customers and you’ll be able to better brief those making the calls so they can tap into what floats the customer’s boat.
- Why should buyers see you / trial your product / buy your solutions?
Have you got something to show or tell customers that is useful? I mean really useful. The problem with many cold calls is that they kick off with a bland introduction. Right from the start, the customer isn’t engaged. And, whilst the agency should work hard to ensure that doesn’t happen, they still need the raw materials from you to be able to compile something that has a decent chance of working. So, why should buyers see you now especially if they have an incumbent supplier they are more or less happy with and with whom they may be in contract? Work hard to try to establish a reason to meet or a reason to agree to a demo. Prospects are always busy and have other priorities. We’re disturbing their flow. Therefore, it’s important to find a good reason for them to stop what they’re doing and listen. And, then the agency needs to persuade them to take it a step further to meet and give up even more time. If there is insufficient impetus for doing that, it’s unlikely that the agency will be able to generate enough opportunities.
- What information is needed from each call to improve sales conversion?
A good set of profiling questions and solution selling questions will significantly help results. If the quality of information is such that the sales person is well-armed for the meeting, it will drastically improve and speed up results. But, that’s only going to happen if you provide the agency with a list of typical questions for which your field team need answers. Of course, you won’t get a full house. It’s unlikely every prospect will answer every question, and you don’t want the call to be an interrogation. Equally, well-qualified appointments turn into better business and the ROI will be faster. You know your business and industry. The agency is unlikely to be expert in the kinds of sales discussions you have with prospects. So, work with them to compile a list of pick n mix insightful questions that support the call and the subsequent sales meeting.
- What constitutes a good meeting and what does not!
In a perfect world, sales people want to sit in front of prospects with a genuine need and that have a project on the boil now. The reality is that not everyone is looking now. Some clients have mid-terms requirements. Many will be in contract at the time of the call. Some will provide review dates or times when they will be ending their contract. And, some will be happy to sit down for a speculative discussion where the sales person will need to work their magic. If it’s only hot leads that are required, the fact is that callers will need to qualify prospects out as well as in. If the criteria are that they have a project on the table of £10,000 within the next 3 months and that they are based within a 5-mile radius of Leeds, how many customers might we find with that requirement in every 100 callls? We counsel our clients not only to look at specific project timetables for a meeting but also to consider speculative meetings, where feasible, with companies that fit the criteria in terms of potential. Ultimately, your agency needs to know what’s in and what’s out. Equally, you need to be realistic about what’s achievable if you make the criteria too tight.
- How will you ensure the data supports call success?
We’ve used client data in the past and it hasn’t ended well. If your data is old, the chances are that people have moved on. There are a huge number of changes in companies every year and, if the data isn’t fresh, the likelihood is that calls will be wasted which, in turn, means wasted time and money. It also means that the callers will be blocked more frequently and lose their momentum. That’s why good data is essential. In some cases, the best solution is to buy a list of targets from a reputable list broker. If the specific job roles you need to target aren’t available, you may need to undertake list gathering via Google and LinkedIn or a combination of this alongside a ‘bought’ list with companies in your target areas. Whatever your approach, data is crucial to success. Your agency should be able to guide you to some extent. However, you need to have the final say and you may have access to industry sources of data that the agency does not.
- Get reporting and measurement right from the start
Garbage in, garbage out is an old expression. However, it’s really true when it comes to reporting and measurement. Work with your agency. Tell them what information you need to see. Make sure it isn’t too onerous (what will you actually read) but agree up-front what you want to see and how often. Then you can ensure that you regularly review performance against the criteria you set for the campaign. At GSA, we build bespoke reports for our clients for every campaign against the information they want (see above ref questions) and provide access via a secure portal. Telemarketing investment isn’t necessarily a quick fix and management needs to keep control of the return on investment. If the reports that are required are built correctly from the outset, the evaluation of ongoing activity will be much easier. So, work with your agency to determine what’s needed and you can use the reports as the basis of performance reviews.
The above tips are just some of the key elements in telemarketing success when it comes to briefing and working with a telemarketing agency. You’ll definitely improve results if you follow the steps. Your callers will be more informed, more capable and more motivated to deliver better telemarketing results from the outbound calling they do on your behalf. At the end of the day, you want good results so put in the necessary effort to achieve them.