06 September 2016 Category: How to Guides
Why should you use telemarketing as part of your marketing mix? You almost certainly already use the phone to create and develop business leads and close deals – which is, in essence, “telemarketing”. Voice contact remains an essential element of most B2B sales processes – Sirius Decisions and most digitally focussed enterprise marketing teams recommend and use telemarketing.
However, most of the time calling is carried out by non-specialist staff with other responsibilities, whose telemarketing efforts are rarely managed or measured. As a result this kind of telemarketing is often highly inefficient. When carried out properly telemarketing can be one of the most cost effective marketing channels available. Relying too heavily on digital to the exclusion to voice contact drastically reduces lead flow, conversion and ultimate ROI.
Telemarketing is measurable, “two way”, flexible and offers market insight. It’s more than likely that your main competitors already use telemarketing to create, qualify and nurture new leads and sales…
Here is our Quick Guide to setting up a telemarketing campaign.
Avoid the most common mistakes
At The Telemarketing Company we have over 25 years’ experience of picking up the pieces from badly managed inbound and outbound B2B telemarketing campaigns.
Whether conducted in house or by a specialist agency there a number of pre-requisites that need to be taken into consideration before you embark on a new campaign.
This presentation isn’t intended to be an extensive guide for setting up a campaign - instead we are going to illustrate the main areas and potential pitfalls you need to consider at before you instigate a telemarketing campaign.
1. Identify your prospects..
Having a proper understanding of the types of organisations and the individuals within those organisations that will be responsible for making decisions related to your offer is crucial. If you don’t understand this then telemarketing will probably just be an expensive way of confirming your lack of knowledge.
Bear in mind that in most organisations the buying process for new products and services is complex and often involves a large number of decision makers, influencers and budget holders.
A common mistake is to contact the person who understands your offer best, or will be involved in implementation, but isn’t actually going to directly benefit from it. For example if you are selling finance software, contacting the Finance Director will be more useful than speaking to the IT department, just because the IT department understands software.
2. Use the right data
Data is the foundation of all telemarketing campaigns.
If you’re calling into warm lists which have been generated through other activity (exhibitions, events, lapsed customers, email marketing, Marketing Automation, website enquiries etc.) segment this carefully and use different messaging and KPI’s.
If you’re calling a relatively cold list, data accounts for only 5% of the total cost of the campaign. The mathematics of telemarketing are simple: it’s high cost but high value so you need to make it as effective as possible by using the best data.
If you use inaccurate data the first few weeks of your campaign will see staff spending the majority of their time correcting records, when they should be building pipeline making sales. Make sure your data is not just accurate but also on profile (obvious but frequently overlooked…)
It’s not worth cutting costs when buying data as in the long run it will escalate other spending dramatically. All data needs to screened against the CTPS/do not call list and any other relevant suppressions, like your current customers.
3. The approach
Never open a call with “How are you” unless you’ve had recent and memorable contact, otherwise it’s completely insincere. Be clear about the purpose of the call as early as practical.
Don’t use a script for B2B telemarketing! There are sales and marketing professionals who believe that using a script will ensure that each call is carried out in the best possible manner and will be well structured and consistent – 99% of the time this isn’t the case. There needs to be structure and consistency to each call but this will not come from using a script – this comes from having trained and capable agents with a clear call plan. Quality sales come from constructive and fluid conversations, driven by open questions to uncover pain points – this is very difficult to achieve using a script.
Using a script can often damage a brand rather than promote it. Most professional business people are short of time; they do not want to hear someone read out a list of marketing messages. They will be even less impressed if the sales person continues to doggedly stick to the script when the conversation needs to take an unanticipated turn.
If you are using a telesales team that require a script then you are using the wrong team!
4. Open questions
A key part of the call should be about asking questions. Asking intelligent and open questions will benefit you in two ways:
- Firstly it will let you engage with the decision maker and establish yourself as an intelligent and informed individual who is worth talking to.
- Secondly, and more importantly, it should uncover business pain points. These enable you to challenge their assumptions, leading your prospects to think about how your offer could help them and enabling you to discuss appropriate, relevant benefits, supported by evidence and examples.
Asking closed questions like ‘would you like to save 10% on your gas bill’ to try to generate interest can be very damaging.
- These kind of “Barnum statements” alienate prospects. They will feel that you are insulting their intelligence because there is really only one answer to the question.
- They also offer the prospect the opportunity to answer with a flat ‘no’, which is a very good way of ending the phone call and killing an opportunity.
5. Benefits vs. features of your offer
Business decision makers are people, whatever their role; people tend to buy on benefits, not features. Too much selling tends to focus on the features of the offer rather than its benefits. Be clear on the difference in your own mind and brief the callers appropriately.
You’ll need to cover off features, but if you focus mainly on the benefits of your offer you will get the prospects imagination going; helping them to think about how their situation would be improved if they took on your offer. Discussing the benefits will also address the pain points that will hopefully have been identified during the questioning.
If a prospect is determined to find out about the detailed features of your offering, it’s usually a strong buying signal and an opportunity to set a qualified lead or sales appointment.
A lot of sales people will tell you that they “only need a foot in the door” to make a sale. This is rarely true and Telemarketing with this kind of appointment as an objective will often fail. If no minimum criteria is applied to the results you ask your telemarketing team to set, your sales team will start to complain about the quality of the opportunities very quickly. They will be wasting their time chasing up poorly qualified opportunities where there is no budget or no real interest in your offer.
You should always make sure proper and relevant criteria is applied to the people you will be contacting at the start of the campaign, so that you spend your time contacting individuals who may genuinely have an interest in taking up your offer.
Using a B.A.N.T framework (checking for Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale) is a sensible way to start.
Once interest has been generated it is fairly simple to establish whether your leads have met this criteria by asking simple open and closed questions.
7. The callers
One of the biggest mistakes made by in house teams is to allocate telemarketing duties to staff that have other responsibilities. More often than not staff with other tasks to complete will rapidly find other things (in fact anything…) to do rather than make sales calls.
Generating results requires both quality conversations and lots of calling – one without the other will not work.
To be successful telemarketing needs to be carried out by staff who are exclusively dedicated to the role. Roughly speaking your callers should be picking up the phone around 15-20 times an hour, 7 hours a day, every single day!
The profile of the callers is very important too. You need callers who are able to effectively get past “gatekeepers” and then hold fluid and detailed conversations with business professionals. A poor telemarketer will yield poor results – worse still they may upset and alienate your precious prospects.
If you are not comfortable with your team of callers, don’t start the campaign.
8. Recording the calls
Recording of all the calls made during your campaign will help you improve quality through staff training and coaching. Call recordings also provide you with a complete audit of what was said during the calls. Allowing sales teams to listen to calls before they follow up with a call or sales meeting underpins alignment and drives up follow up and ultimate conversion rates.
There are a number of recording solutions available if you are carrying out the work in house. Any specialist agency should be able to offer you this service and provide call recordings for you to review and critique.
Recording the calls your team make is really important – don’t start your campaign until you have a proper recording solution in place!
Just like all methods of direct marketing telemarketing tends to be much more effective if integrated intelligently with other elements of the marketing mix. If you don’t have a website and relevant digital or physical collateral you will find it’s almost impossible to generate results through calling.
Most contacts will need to be spoken to several times before they will commit to a sale or appointment. Having well produced marketing material to send them can help improve this nurture process dramatically.
Before you start the campaign make sure you have well put together marketing materials to help your telemarketers produce long term results and to build and nurture a pipeline of opportunities. Avoid the temptation to start calling if the collateral is not ready -= on day one of calling, prospects will start requesting further information
10. Close the loop
Before you start your campaign make sure you have all the necessary resources in place to provide clear and structured feedback to your calling team.
- Provide structured feedback on the call recordings you hear.
- Listen and feed back on both result calls AND calls where no result was generated
There are plenty of lead tracking and CRM platforms available; these types of systems will allow you to easily monitor the whole process from first call to the close of the sale – informing you of what needs to be improved and where training needs to be implemented.
If you are trying to book appointments for you sales team as part of your telemarketing campaign we would strongly recommend getting your sales team to score the meetings they attend. These ratings can be used to determine what works and what doesn’t; helping your calling team develop their skills.