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How to successfully use telemarketing without driving customers away

How to successfully use telemarketing without driving customers away

By Geoff Thomas, managing director of Integrity Business Connections

If you already use telemarketing and telesales to good effect then you will also know the unrivalled opportunities that they provide for developing an agency or a business.  By doing the basics well, it is possible to directly reach the key decision makers you need to influence and leave them wanting to find out more. Carried out correctly, they can be valuable tools in any marketing agency’s armoury to sell on to clients as part of their campaign planning.

Some marketing managers, agencies and new business directors are already re-focusing on helping clients adopt good telesales and telemarketing practice, in order to drive sales in a recession. However, too many companies are failing to grasp simple but effective opportunities that could bring in vital new business leads, and are even driving potential customers away simply because the wrong approaches and poor techniques are being employed when it comes to telemarketing.

Because telemarketing is often not incorporated into the broader marketing and sales plan, activities may be poorly timed and objectives not clearly defined from the outset and businesses can then struggle to assess the return on their investment. This, in turn, sometimes cultivates a negative image of telemarketing as a business tool.

In the current economic climate quality, high-level business-to-business telemarketing that generates appointments with senior personnel in blue chip organisations could well help to save a company. As the downturn bites, now is a prime opportunity to stand out from the crowd by investing in well-thought-out and executed telemarketing, harnessing its ability to raise profile and separating your company from the competition.

Here are a few pointers to success:

1 Telesales or Telemarketing? Define at the outset which you mean:

Telesales is the use of a telephone to generate a sales order for a product or service. Telemarketing is the use of the telephone to make appointments with decision makers. The latter is a more complex process requiring a highly professional phone call, which might require some flexibility in conversation and a dialogue to establish trust and credibility.

2 Prioritise your most important prospects or clients to call:
Success in telemarketing is often achieved after a number of follow-up calls and carefully selected supporting information being sent by post or email.

Both Business to Business and Business to Consumer approaches have their place depending upon the industry and type of business or agency making the calls. It is vital that at the outset, the type of call required is clearly defined.

3 Remember it doesn't have to be high volume to work. It's more about identifying the key people you want to have appointments with:
To achieve successful telemarketing it is essential to integrate it into the broader marketing and sales plans for your company. Position telemarketing strategically to ensure that when you call prospects or clients they are warm and receptive to the messages being delivered. If they have seen an advertisement or press article or received some direct marketing material that supports the telemarketing messages they will be far more likely to both understand the reason for the call and respond favourably to the request for an appointment.

4 Think of adding telemarketing into your plans at the same time as you plan a new sales brochure, product launch or strategic sales drive into a new market:
The best order of play for effective telemarketing is to position it in the middle of the new business marketing process. As an example:
- design and develop sale brochure
- issue press release
- send out direct marketing materials
- telemarketing to drive sales appointments
- follow-up direct marketing as appropriate
- secure sales
- aftersales support, testimonial stories for website, press releases and sales materials.

5 Plan your telemarketing up to twelve months ahead to boost times when sales peak and fill the troughs when sales leads are scarcer:

If you can, include telemarketing to support the generation of sales appointments around or just before the key buying times of your products and services to ensure that your sales pipeline is always full at those important times. Plan telemarketing in advance to boost those peaks and perhaps to also fill the troughs when sales are otherwise hard to come by.

6 Work backwards from the sales value you want to achieve, to calculate how many people you need to call and how many days of calls are required. This will show you clearly the return you can expect on your investment:

Knowing the number of appointments you need to attend to secure a sale will help you to determine the amount of calling you need from your telemarketing agency who should be able to give a clear indication of the number of appointments they are able to make for you.

7 Work out the real cost and value of doing telemarketing in-house, compared to using a professional agency:

A lot of companies and agencies may believe they have the expertise to run effective telemarketing campaigns and activities in-house. In some cases this may well be true with staff knowing the products and services intimately.

However it is often worth considering using a professional telemarketing agency and especially one that is willing and able to get into the heart of your business and really understand your strategic objectives.

Writing a strong brief will help such an agency to get things right first time, so work through this step by step guide to make sure you have everything covered.
Your selected agency should challenge you about the strength of your marketing messages and work with you to ensure they are as strong as they can be. They will also write a clear and succinct "script” that will help callers to deliver these messages and secure appointments. Make sure you are totally comfortable with the script before the campaign begins.

Whether you decide to run your telemarketing in-house or use an agency, make sure you set clear and measurable objectives at the outset and have regular reviews and updates as you go through the campaign. Most importantly, tell everyone in your business what's happening so that any enquiries that come in are effectively and professionally handled, by whomever receives the call.

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