Telemarketing or telesales as it is often referred to is a traditional form of marketing used by many SME’s to generate new business opportunities or a sales pipeline. Many marketers might argue that it is outmoded when new forms of marketing like digital and social media are so prevalent. But, try telling that to one of our clients that last month won a £500k contract from one of our calls.
Our view is that there is no right and wrong. Successful businesses use a blend of marketing techniques based on knowing their target audience and what they respond to both online and offline. Below are 7 telemarketing tips to help you understand how and when you can use telemarketing profitably to generate a healthy sales pipeline and are the key determinants of a successful telemarketing campaign.
Define your Target Audience
If you can define your target audience tightly, this is the primary success factor in telemarketing. For example, we ran a campaign for a company that provided online training, competence testing and learning management systems. When we quizzed our client about their marketplace, they were very clear:
- Financial services sector primarily banking and insurance
- National i.e. across the UK but predominantly London
- Greater than 1000 employees but preferably very large employers in the sector
- Compliance directors
These criteria enabled us to identify and secure a target calling list for the large banks and insurers along with the job titles, names and contact numbers for those crucially responsible for compliance. A great deal of time and money is wasted when organisations don’t know who makes decisions for their product or service. The tight criteria enabled accurate targeting and faster generation of sales leads through the telemarketing activity than we would have achieved had the brief been vague.
Research and Refine your Proposition
It’s all well and good knowing your audience but if you have nothing they need or want, it’s worthless. Therefore, do some research into what keeps the buyer up at night and how you can assist. Understand their buying motivations and challenges.
The more you can identify things that your buyer needs or wants, the more likely you will have a more interesting and compelling conversation when you reach the decision maker. Once you know what the challenges are (through online research or via trade magazines, available research reports, through your own market research or just by asking your clients), the more you can tailor your services and the telephone conversation so that you engage with more decision makers. That leads to generating more opportunities via the telephone.
Identify the Hook
Let’s face it, there are many suppliers like you. Lots of providers of the same services with similar stories. Therefore, your call needs to stand out. But how do you do that? Well, partly it is the caller (more of that in a moment) and partly it is presentation of information.
I mentioned above that it is key to identify what keeps the buyer awake at night. Therefore, rather than hitting them with
“Hi Bill, I’m calling from ACME furniture. How are you today? We are a manufacturer and supplier of office furniture and I was calling to introduce our products to you”
it is far better to engage them using more relevant and consultative language such as
“Hi Bill, I’m calling from ACME furniture. I don’t know whether this is relevant for you but we’re doing a huge amount of work at the moment with retailers such as XYZ who have got issues with Disability Discrimination Act compliance and they need to install induction loop furniture….”
I know it’s longer but assuming you’ve done your research, it is targeted and much more compelling. It also plays on an issue that they may be suffering from and possibly a timeframe to make those changes or take action.
Use your Credentials
It goes without saying that name dropping helps. If you can lay claim to working with Tesco and drop this into the first few sentence, it helps remove any credibility issues from the get go.
So, think about who you can use as leverage within your calls. If you can’t actually name drop or you don’t have these clients, you can still tailor the call by emphasising sectors that you specialise in when you’re speaking to a decision maker in that sector. It isn’t as strong but needs must!
Empower your Callers
Callers need to know their stuff and be able to actively promote your business. Kind of obvious perhaps. But, it isn’t about having an encyclopaedic knowledge of your business. It’s rather about having a passionate interest in the subject, understanding and empathising with the issues that bother the buyer and understanding how you can solve them. It is also essentially about actively enjoying the art and challenge of calling.
Passion will outmuscle knowledge. A good caller always has a default position whereby they can claim not to be an expert but book a meeting for the person that is. An uninspiring, overly technical caller will put the buyer to sleep and probably won’t even reach the decision maker as the gatekeeper will scare them off.
So, make sure you have trainedand passionate callers that actively want to engage the buyers in conversation (especially if it is a higher value sale) rather than bore them to death with technical jargon or a long boring sales pitch that has nothing to do with their needs.
Persistence is Crucial
We did an exercise for a client a while ago that identified that a typical quality telemarketing appointment requires 6-12 calls to generate. That means on somewhere between 6 and 12 calls, we reached a gatekeeper, voicemail or the decision maker asked us to call back at a more convenient time. Often, call-backs to secure meetings were 6, 10 or 18 months into the future when the time became right. Too often, sales people, telemarketers and small business owners abandon calls when they don’t get immediate results. Especially for higher value sales, decisions aren’t taken overnight and buyers are busy and often absent. Hence, persistence is vital. Call back when you agree to do so. Assuming that your target audience definition is correct (see point 1), then these buyers are directly in your line of fire. Effective telemarketing means persistent calling into the companies you wish to trade with.
Use a Good CRM system
No system is foolproof but it is almost impossible to remember what was discussed in detail 6 months before. Hence, a good robust CRM system is essential to diarise call-backs and to record invaluable notes from the call. Those notes may be strictly relevant to the requirements or issues or simply that the buyer is off to France for a holiday. This helps re-build rapport on the next call. Nowadays, there are online hosted CRM systems that have a low per user cost. If you want to deliver great telemarketing results, working off Excel just doesn’t work. So, invest a small amount in a system that suits your needs.
Telemarketing is a simple but effective route to market. It isn’t the solution to all ills. However, it will reward you if you invest in the process and use the telemarketing tips above.
If you’d like to know more or book a new business development strategy workshop and find out how GSA Business Development can help Generate Growth for your Business, by contacting us now on 0845 658 8192 or send us an email.