Telemarketing ̶ the good, the bad and the hopeless

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Telemarketing is a very effective way to find prospects and develop new business. It’s often not so popular with the person being called, and not even something most sales and marketing people like to do.
We are heavily influenced by the consumer calls we get, which frankly are mostly absolutely terrible; in every way. But good business to business calls reap rewards, for both parties; we just have to remember that those types of calls are very different from the consumer calls we get, or rather, they should be. And before we pick up the phone, we should be absolutely sure that we understand our business and the business of the person we are calling.
Good business to business telemarketing gets good results ….. some thoughts.

Telemarketing ̶ the good, the bad and the hopeless

Telemarketing has a bad name, which is hardly surprising after years of sales calls from people who call without any real knowledge of their product or service, and not having a good enough understanding of business to discuss business solutions properly. Those making the calls frequently have scripts to follow, because the caller does not know enough to talk intelligently about how a business works and its needs, problems or challenges. They are employed to do nothing but plough their way through telephone lists, incentivised by the lure of commission.

A natural reaction is to pull down the shutters. And most private individuals and businesses, having developed an antipathy to incoming calls from numbers they don’t recognise, will employ their own short and sharp techniques to get rid. We have scant patience with any caller who goes about the call the wrong way by, for example, asking fatuous questions like: “How are you today?” or “May I call you John?”.

But what about when the boot is on the other foot and you’re the one who needs to drum up sales, whether because it’s your job or it’s for your own business. As sure as eggs are eggs, making cold calls is probably the last thing you want to do. And odds are that those being called don’t want to be.
Why is this? What makes it all so hard to do? Is it that all products sold by telemarketers are no use to anyone, or that nobody needs to buy anything to improve their business? Neither is true. Surprisingly, you may well be trying to sell something your prospect actually needs.

You have to think of telemarketing calls as telephone presentations to people whose profile suggests they will benefit from your product or service. Why don’t they want to talk to you?

Let’s consider this for a moment.

Your sales call goes through to the target prospect’s desk ̶ no appointment, scarcely any introduction and invariably an unwelcome interruption. It is therefore very important that you respect the fact that your prospect has accepted your call, that you get to the point quickly and efficiently and that the call is relevant to them.

You have no more than five seconds to understand how the prospect likes to communicate and, to reflect this, to work out how to present your product or service. It’s essential that you listen carefully to the voice and style and deliver accordingly. And this the nub of it ̶ listening. Once you have clearly stated what your business is and its relevance and benefit to the prospect, just listen, listen and go on listening.

You might well conclude, from long experience of being on the receiving end, that the sole purpose of most telemarketing calls is to allow the caller to talk for the longest possible time. This is a costly misunderstanding. Instead, you must explain quickly and concisely who you are, what you have to offer and why/how its helps the prospect. You should then wait and listen carefully to what the prospect has to say in response to your opening lines. Only then can you continue to have a meaningful conversation, and provide helpful additional information about your product or service.

For goodness’ sake, don’t talk about the weather and don’t waste people’s valuable time by asking if you can call them by their first name. And if you aren’t convinced that what you have to offer is likely to bring any business benefit to the prospect, they won’t be either. So why bother making the call?
Telemarketers appear to have been taught all sorts of rules of engagement, but the teaching continues and nobody stops to say “Hey, this doesn’t work ….”.

Here are a few techniques that should be avoided:
• Fixed scripts
• Making assumptions about target businesses
• Implying weaknesses in their management
• Using questioning techniques designed to lead prospects on
• Making 200 calls a day
• Getting past the gatekeeper (better to get help from the gatekeeper)
• Sounding cringingly happy
• Being over friendly
• Talking instead of listening
• Offering no clear business benefit to the prospect.

Telemarketing is something you have to enjoy doing. If not, switch to something different.
If you do find it enjoyable, like and believe in your product or service and can identify and verbalise how it will benefit a prospect, then, believe me, telemarketing does work.

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