Introduction to Successful Telemarketing
With the rapid growth in telecommunications in the past few decades, it is now possible for people to be in touch with each other on a continuous basis. Mobile telephony, internet and voice calls and several other internet call options.
The revolutionary changes in telecommunications not only helped person-to-person communications but also government –to-government and citizenry –to-government communications. In parallel, business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications for marketing also emerged as a viable alternative to direct sales and marketing through mass media.
Telemarketing Definition and scope
Telemarketing services are known by different names in various countries. It is known as tele-sales in UK and more popularly called telemarketing in USA. A telemarketer has the primary responsibility of selling products or services over phone. They could be working from a call centre, a private office or from home.
It may be a cost-effective way to reach across to potential consumers as there is no travelling and other overhead costs involved and there is a database available to work on. However, a little effort towards understanding the strategies and the needs of the consumer can go a long way in providing a better response to telemarketing efforts.
1. Is telemarketing needed for the company’s products
The first step in the process is whether there should be a telemarketing team for the company based on the industry domain and products being sold by the firm. For eg. technical products may require demonstration on site and further presentations to prospective clients. Or they may want to see them functioning in a shop or retail outlet before making a purchase decision. Financial products, mobile services, insurance and loan products, technology support in the case of IT industry are all so me possible areas where telecalling works effectively.
2. Training of call centre employees
If the company has decided to go ahead with telemarketing techniques, the first step is recruitment of team leaders and building a team of tele-callers who have to do the cold calls or make calls to existing customers. They have to be trained in proper introduction, showing courtesy to customers, asking permission to continue the conversation and mostly importantly they should have a good awareness of the company they work for, its objectives and the products they sell and also have in depth knowledge of the products or services offered by the company. Many a time people encounter telecallers who are not courteous and end up irritating the prospective customer.
The tele-caller must have full awareness of the sales process from start to finish. It includes billing, shipping, refunding or return policies, customer support and follow-up procedures apart from warranty terms for the product or service. The telecaller should have good communication skills in the language in which he or she is interacts with the customer. They have to speak with authority but should not sound harsh or mumble with words that shows lack of communication skills. The caller should exude confidence in his tone and seen to be proud of selling the product and the company to the consumer.
It is said to be a numbers game and it takes patience and time to develop the telemarketing skills required. However, the executives must make a certain number of telemarketing calls every day and take customer rejections positively.
Telemarketers can stick to a script provided by the company but the customer should not feel it is being blindly followed by the call centre agent. Instead minor changes and modifications to script based on response from the customer should be made. The executives need to think on the feet, have presence of mind and deliver results.
3. Call monitoring and feedback
Telemarketing efforts can work only if the call centre executive is monitored regularly for his performance in dealing with customers, sales pitch, description of products and the need for the consumer to buy it and also the ability to keep the conversation live before closing the deal. In call centres, marketing calls are all recorded for quality or training purposes and they are informed to the customer. Telecallers should not sound rehearsed and repeating a memorized script but after an introducing the company and self, they should continue the conversation based on the response of the consumer.
Team leaders are responsible for nurturing and enabling the executives to perform but there should not be any undue pressure on the part of the company or those upward in the hierarchy so much so the employee out of stress breaks down. However, recording for training and feed back should be used to point out areas for improvement.
It is very important to develop a rapport with the customer before going in for a sales pitch. Developing a rapport shows that the company and the excecutive have an interest in them beyond just sales or business.
4. Follow-up calls
Once a customer has been contacted, most often decision to purchase is not made but they make seek more clarifications or may request for some time to decide. In all such cases, follow up calls have to be made and address further clarifications required on the product or service. And if the customer has specified a particular day or time, executives should stick to that schedule and not disturb the customer otherwise. The follow up calls can also focus one step ahead, a direct interaction with the customer by a marketing or sales executive. It could be a for a presentation or demo.It is very important to note down the details or answers provided by the customer either on paper on computer so that it will be good while making a follow up call or calls. If those details are recorded even if the follow up is done by another agent or executive, they could be armed with all the relevant information and not ask the same questions that were asked before.
5. Invest in a CRM solution
Customer Relationship Management is now an integral part of sales and distribution process in any firm and based on the growth in business, companies need to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software. A CRM solution enables companies to have a complete database of the consumer, his or her buying habits, some information about his possessions, annual income, email ids, phone numbers and spending habits. CRM solution works best when there is a robust backend support by way of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for the entire company’s operations.
The CRM service provider should be able to provide continued technical and software support to meet increasing demands of the company when it achieves more growth and business.
6. Believe in the 10:10:80 principle:
Customers are of different types and telecallers could face rejections or cold responses from people. It is best to keep in mind the 10:10:80 principle. About 10% of the people will say no to everything and another 10% may say yes to a telecaller’s sales call as they have difficulty in saying no. Another 80% of prospects require the agent to conduct a skillful presentation of the product or service. That explains why some tele-marketers are successful in business conversion compared to others. A skillful agent or executive may introduce the company as having served the industry successful ly for the past 50 years and tell about a new business of the company. Then proceed with a statement: May I ask you a couple of questions before proceeding?
7. Be specific in what you have to offer and avoid close ended questions
Most often the receiver of a call irrespective of his job or business could be busy with work or meetings and hence may not have time for elaborate conversations. It is always better to ask an open ended question than a close ended question. Do you trade in share market? If the answer is a firm ‘no’ there ends the conversation with no potential for going ahead? On the other hand, a question such as : ‘would you be interested in trading with us given the right support, incentives and guidance? ‘ is a better way of addressing both a first time investor as well as someone one who is already engaged in it. Also if the product or service requires a reasonably good investment, it is better to ask the potential customer how much spending they can do for such a service. There is no pointing wasting time on a customer who can’t afford your services.
8. Telecallers should not be overworked
It is true that telecalling is a cost center for any company but it leads to better customer engagement, better awareness about the company and products among consumers and enable feedback from them. It is also a good method to inform existing customers about launch of new products or services. It is very important that they interact with the customers in a positive and confident tone and voice and an overworked employee may not converse effectively. They should be given sufficient time for relaxation or rest and have opportunities to grow in the organization than being stuck in agent level.
9. Avoid irritating and disturbing customers
In many countries, the telecom regulators have provided a facility to telephone and mobile subscribers to opt for do-not-disturb (DND) facility so that messages and calls from marketing agents do not reach them. Even those numbers not registered under DND, it is better to keep a cut off time for calling customers. A call centre may work three shifts but calls should be made only as per the convenience of the customers.
In many sectors in India such as insurance, companies are now forced to opt for online marketing as DND is being strictly implemented by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). It has become difficult for insurers to sell products in the absence of leads. They now rely heavily on inbound marketing. As a result the proportion of business due to direct sales have dwindled from 6.4% to 2.55 percent.
10. Goal setting is important
It is a cost center but must be matched by conversion of sales or improved customer satisfaction in case of existing customers. Therefore, setting goals are important. Getting disappointed with a strategy not working and not making any changes to it is suicidal. There should be quarterly goals for telemarketers and more incentives can be provided for improved perforamance. A calculation has to be made regarding the number of calls required to close a sale. When that is multiplied by the product goal, will help determine the amount of calls required. A company should be willing to try out alternative telemarketing strategies or consult experts if they face a stumbling block in attaining targets.
Telemarketing as a marketing strategy may be cost effective and saves on logistics cost of travelling and meeting people to make cold calls. They serve as the first step in establishing contact with customer and taking the telemarketing sales process forward from there. However, in many countries they face trouble due to government restrictions regarding who can be contacted for business purposes on telephone and mobile. Therefore, it makes a good strategy to combine online marketing, inbound marketing through websites and blogs, enabling chat facility in websites.
The success of telemarketing jobs would depend on how trained the agents or executives are, how follow up is done and deals closed. It is a combination of technology, good quality human resources, telemarketing skills, and combining the strategy as a supplement to other marketing initiatives that will yield result for the company. Good telephone manners and etiquette are vital for telemarketing sales to succeed.
It usually works best with B2C businesses than B2B where direct interaction with key decision makers and presentations are vital to clinch deals. It is very important that the telecallers do not give out false promises or information and pester them to buy products because they have to meet the targets set by the company. Ultimately, the telemarketing technique is also dependent on how good the product is, what is the customer perception of after sales service and perceived brand value to customer.
This has been a guide to Successful Telemarketing. Here we discuss a brief overview with 10 cost-effective tips to get the best results. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –