If you’re using telemarketing to generate sales leads, you want your team to perform? But, are they delivering the number of leads you need to oil the wheels of growth? If not, maybe you need to think first about the input rather than the output. What’s happening (or not happening) that means the results aren’t at the required level? In a perfect world, you’d like to be able to flick a switch and identify how to get better results from your telemarketing team. Sadly, it’s not quite that easy.
Of course, it’s essential to have telemarketers that are willing to get on the phone, that have energy and motivation and know how to have a proper conversation with a prospect. Simply put, they also need to make enough calls each day to give themselves a chance of success.
But, let’s imagine those boxes are pretty much ticked but it’s still not working. What could be wrong? Below we’ve detailed a few of the inputs you might want to look at that impede (or enhance) successful telemarketing lead generation.
What system do your team use to make calls? There are lots of good CRM solutions out there. But are they right for telemarketing? I went to one client recently where 4 callers used different approaches. One used their CRM. Another used excel to make calls. The third used a hard copy list and a pad. The fourth used an online portal for leads. This is a nightmare from a lead generation perspective. Telemarketing relies on good notes, scheduling call-backs and fast calling patterns. Consistency is everything and you need a system that is built with telemarketing workflow in mind.
Whatever system you use needs to speed up calls and to allow callers to get at key information quickly. It must be easy to navigate. Can outbound callers simply prioritise the important calls for each day and find them quickly? Are all the relevant tabs and information in the right place, ideally on one page? A CRM configured for telemarketing use, as opposed to being set up for broader marketing, can make up to a 50% difference in the number of calls each day. So make sure your team aren’t using excel or pen and paper and ensure your CRM is fit for purpose.
The reality is that it’s impossible to keep b2b data clean unless you deploy constant data validation. This is due to the fact that there are so many changes in organisations every year.
Poor data is the single most damaging element in failing telemarketing lead generation. You can make several calls to a company to reach John Smith only to find it isn’t him that deals with your area of interest. You can also get blocked by no name policies (no excuse nowadays with LinkedIn). We’ve had campaigns where we have received data from a client and circa 80% were wrong numbers and /or wrong person. So, we had to start from scratch and validate 1500 records. This impeded the results, cost more and slowed us down.
If the decision-maker you need isn’t available on a list you can purchase from a data broker, it complicates matters. This is especially true where your target decision maker isn’t run of the mill. You may need to undertake some form of data build in advance of calling. It’s important to recognise that if you want your team to deliver results fast, as a minimum requirement, you need to provide them with clean data and that means right numbers and right people to call with whom you’d like to do business.
In the past, we’ve spoken to callers whose briefing is non-existent before the calling kicks off. That means they’ve been given a database and told in no uncertain terms to just go and drum up some business. Why would a prospect use your business versus a competitor? How entrenched with incumbent suppliers might the companies be that they’re calling? What challenges do prospects have that you can resolve? What objections might callers run into? These are just a few of the crucial briefing points you should provide in advance of calling. The better prepared the callers are, the more traction they will achieve.
What’s the environment for calling? Are callers stuck in a dark room at the end of the corridor? Sales lead generation is a tough job at the best of times and, telemarketing is probably at the top of that profession in terms of difficulty. So, make sure your callers are comfortable. They need space to spread out if they have accompanying info. Get them a headset and a comfy chair. Make sure they have a wide screen monitor. It may sound simple and what you do for everyone, but, sitting at a desk all day bashing out calls is a thankless task. So, be sure you provide the tools they need to do a good job.
Along with the tools to do the job, comes motivation. It’s a slog at times. Therefore, motivation and incentivisation play a role. That doesn’t always mean money. Positive feedback is essential. A vote of thanks for a good appointment, or order, goes down well. Doughnuts for a particularly good week. Or, the possibility to leave an hour early for a good result day can all add to the desire to perform. And, of course, you can’t forget commission on achievement as long as it’s attainable.
Training takes two parts. First, have your team got the requisite skills and techniques to do the job? If you’re unsure, put them on a telemarketing skills training course. It’ll pay dividends. Not all telemarketing is intuitive. It isn’t just about the art of talking. Listening, questioning and rapport building are essential skills that can be taught. It’s the same for gatekeeper techniques and objection handling.
And, it’s not just about up-front training. Most training fails if it isn’t embedded through use. And, you learn what works and what doesn’t throughout a telemarketing campaign. So, it’s about on the job continuous improvement. It’s identifying the typical objections and blocks on a given activity. Plan for these and work out the most effective responses.
If you have a successful caller, ask them to sit for a morning with those less successful and make it worth their while. Make on the job training and continuous improvement part of the process and you’ll generate better results.
We’ve recently won two new clients where they’ve done telemarketing in the past and know what results they are likely to achieve. They have benchmarks from other countries and from their internal calling. Having targets is essential but we also need to know they’re realistic. Therefore, having a benchmark upon which to base targets is important and especially if they’re proven.
You can benchmark over time once you’ve called through sufficient data to assess list quality, response and so on. If you’ve got several callers, you can benchmark them against each other. There’s nothing like a bit of competition to push up performance.
Telemarketing can be monotonous. And, callers can become stale. So, try to provide variety if at all possible. Could callers change emphasis every so often? Are there different messages they could use? Could they call into a different sector or decision maker role with a different approach? Could they do some work on LinkedIn to warm up calls? Whilst getting familiar with the pitch helps familiarity and reduces the chance of sounding over-scripted, it can sap energy over time. So, try to freshen things up every so often to prevent your callers from feeling they’re heading down a blind alley.
Other Marketing Support
A cold call is essentially…..cold. Could that be balanced by other marketing to warm up the lead? Do you do events after which they could make calls to leads from the event? Do you do email campaigns where telemarketers could call people that opened the email or clicked through? Do you use a tool to track who’s on your website that your callers could follow up? Do you do webinars after which the team might follow up leads?
In an ideal world, telemarketing shouldn’t be carried out in isolation. The more impetus and support you provide to warm up the leads, and preferably stimulate inbound leads that are easier to close, the better. Telemarketing is, after all, a tough job. Don’t make it harder by lumping all of the responsibility and the burden on your callers. Provide the support they crave and you’ll see much better results.
GSA helps businesses become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns and also, with our experience, guide SME’s through the maze of marketing choices. We help them make the best choice and spend their budget wisely. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.