Despite the glamour of the Internet, the good old telephone is still one of the most effective sales tools, especially when used in conjunction with a solid telemarketing program. Before you hire a staff and start working the phones, consider the following tips:
Plan your script carefully. Make sure you clearly identify the purpose of your campaign and the objective of the sales call. Anticipate caller objections and develop a strategy to handle them.
Determine the degree of difficulty of the program. If the product or service is complex and requires a detailed explanation to the customer, avoid hiring entry-level telemarketers.
Administrative assistants can be your friends. You may not be able to get through to the person you want to talk to, but a secretary can verify that the person is the decision-maker you want to reach and tell you where sales literature should be sent.
Develop a multiprong attack. Combining a telemarketing program with a direct mail piece can increase the results of both programs.
Test your scripts. Do some role-playing exercises with your telemarketers before starting your program so you can perfect your scripts. Having an objective third party present can help you refine your message.
Follow up. Dont spend so much time developing your telemarketing program that you ignore the follow-up procedure. If someone agrees either to a purchase or to a follow-up sales call, make sure theres a system to handle it. Getting qualified leads from the telemarketing program wont help the bottom line if the sales team isnt following up on the success.
Analyze statistics as you go. Identify which calling lists are working best, and which markets are most responsive to your message. Adjust calling times to match where the stats show you are having the most success.
Know when to listen and when to talk. Never say anything that will make the client feel wrong or stupid, and if youre asking questions, youre controlling the call. Know when to stop talking and listen to the questions the person is asking.
Todd Shryock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is SBNs special reports editor.