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1. Define your ideal prospect
Telesales can prove to be an incredibly effective new business builder for any Company. However, before you go and grab the nearest telephone your first and most important task should be to have a good long hard think about what your ideal prospect profile looks like. Here are some questions which you need to consider:
Geographically, where do you want your telesales prospects to be located? You can break this down into Counties, Towns and Postcodes.
Are you looking for Companies that only do business with other Companies (B2B) or Companies that only do business with consumers (B2C) or both?
What is the most common job title (s) or role (s) of the people that make buying decisions for your particular product or service?
What types of Companies in terms of industry sectors do you want to target? You may know for example specific SIC codes to narrow your profile.
How many employees would your ideal prospect Company have?
What turnover band ideally would they fall into?
There are of course many other "filters" that you can apply to your ideal prospect profile but these are a very good start point. Don't be in a hurry to skip your brainstorm session on the above. Knowing exactly who you want to make contact with on the phone is crucial to the success of your campaign. Any shortcuts here will come back and bite you- you have been warned!
2. Source your data from specialist providers to ensure quality of contacts and compliance with telesales legislation.
The CTPS (Corporate Telephone Preference Service) is the register which holds information on all Companies who have expressed their wish not to receive telephone marketing calls. The TPS ( Telephone Preference Service is the consumer equivalent ) You must ensure that all the telephone numbers you are calling throughout your campaign are not listed on the CTPS/TPS or you run the risk of a hefty £5,000 fine. Do not be tempted to call from ad hoc sources of telephone numbers where the numbers have not been pre screened. Apart from contravening the CTPS/TPS you may also run into problems from publishers who rightly protect their data and have notices clearly printed both on and offline stating that is a breach of copyright to use their publications as a source of telesales data. The solution is simple- you source your data from a reputable data provider who ensures that all your numbers are pre screened against the CTPS/TPS.
They can also advise you on your ongoing obligations in relation to data hygiene. Many data providers also provide a service where they will check your own data against the relevant registers and report back with any numbers that are not clear to call. An enquiry with any of the main search engines quoting B2B Marketing Data will give you plenty of choice. A good start point is marketing file (dot) com. They hold a vast range of business to business and business to consumer data which you can access via their website. If you are outsourcing your telesales activity and would prefer not to have to source your own data speak with your preferred telesales provider as they will usually offer a data procurement and management service as part of what they do. Data is usually provided in Excel spreadsheet format.
3. Consider an e shot or mail out before making your calls.
To help increase positive responses to your calls you may wish to consider sending an e mail beforehand (2 days before is a good guide) to all the contacts on your list outlining the key features and benefits of what you have to offer. Again, there are specialist e broadcast suppliers who will help you to make sure the content and format of your e mail is spot on and will also be able to give you very valuable feedback in terms of who has opened your e mail and who has then gone on the click through to your website for example. This kind of insight can be invaluable when you are making your telesales calls. An e broadcast should not be sent using your usual e mail client so seek the right kind of professional advice and assistance for maximum effect. Alternatively consider sending out a hard copy letter to your intended contacts perhaps including a brochure. The fact that your contact has seen and read something from your Company a few days before your call can make all the difference in getting through to people and being able to engage them in a meaningful productive conversation.
4. Be clear about your objective for the call
This may seem obvious but there can be many objectives for a telesales call. The call could be with the objective of generating a qualified lead where a prospect has expressed an initial interest in what you have to offer and is happy to move to a next step with you- for example to receive further information by way of e mail and then has given their agreement that they are open to a further call from you to answer any questions and progress things as appropriate. Alternatively the purpose of your call could be to actually set a face to face appointment with the contact to discuss things covered on the call in more detail. Be clear at the outset what your objective is.
5. Have a system for recording the results of your calls and keeping tabs on follow up call dates.
Add to your spreadsheet columns to record notes on each call and dates for call backs to be made. There is no point in working really hard to establish your target market, source quality data only to then let leads slip through your fingers due to poor systems for recording your required follow up activities. Your spreadsheet is good enough to record this information in the short term but if telesales is to become a regular feature of your overall marketing plan you may want to explore what a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System can do for your business. There are many available and a search of CRM in the main search engines will give you a number of alternatives. You can use your spreadsheet to uncover your leads and appointments from your prospecting and then place those contacts in your CRM for safe keeping, and more to the point effective follow up!
6. Create the right physical environment for your calling session.
Prospecting by telephone requires focus over a consistent period of time in order to be effective. It is really important that you set aside a dedicated time slot to do the calls free from distractions. Even if this is an hour a day consistency is key in avoiding the boom or bust scenario. Little and often is infinitely better than a massive prospecting blitz followed by a famine. Tell everyone that you are not to be disturbed during your calling sessions and protect your prospecting time by blocking it off in your diary in the same way you would if you had a meeting booked. Prospecting is often the activity that takes a back seat when businesses get busy but it is actually one of the key activities that will ensure a healthy pipeline of sales leads and opportunities to keep you busy!- so give it the respect, priority and time it deserves.
7. Create the right mental environment for your calling session- take the pressure off yourself.
Approach your calls with the mindset that you are on a fact finding mission. Your job is to simply find out whether what you have to offer is a potential fit with the person you are speaking with. If it is then great, you can both agree your next steps. If you don't have a fit then no problem, from a fact finding point of view you've uncovered the true situation with your prospect- namely that what you have to offer isn't something on their agenda right now. "Speaking with", is the key here. It's about having a natural conversation with people. Business people have grown very tired of salespeople calling with the stereotypical sales "pitch". They will often switch off the moment a caller identifies themselves by their introduction, the tone of their voice, the words they use etc that they are in selling mode. The call then becomes a battle of wills- the salesperson wants to sell at all costs, and the person being called puts up whether consciously or not a whole range of barriers to stop the "pitch" in its tracks. This type of approach is very wearing for both the people receiving the calls and of course the person making them. That's why in large call centre environments where standard sales type approaches are often used there is such a high staff churn rate. Take your focus off of selling and place it on information gathering and you'll find that your calls are easier to make and much better received by your telesales prospects. Adopting this approach also eliminates perceived rejection on the part of the person making the calls. If your objective is to fact find, and you find out that what you have to offer is not right for your prospect then you haven't been rejected you've actually moved forward and learned something about that Company you didn't know. Relax with your calls and this relaxed non pressured approach will pay dividends.
8. Create a call plan but not a script.
We've just established that the best approach is natural, conversational, non aggressive, non confrontational and delivered with the intention of focusing on your telesales prospects situation and fact finding to uncover whether your two companies have a fit or not. This simply cannot be the case if you are using a pre determined rigid pitch. How do you know where the conversation is going to go if you've not had it yet? It's not about controlling telesales prospects with a pitch. "Hello my name is, I'm from, we are fantastic...etc" They will see through your pitch in 5 seconds and spend the rest of the call putting up the barriers. Of course have a plan for how you are going to start the call, a good one being once you are through asking the person if it is a convenient time to talk.
You would be amazed at how many sales people simply assume that the person they've called can give them their undivided attention just because they have decided to call them at that very moment. They could be doing 1000 different things when you call so this simple technique can set you aside from the vast majority of sales people. Once through and you've established that your prospect can talk think of a question that focuses on their situation and not on features of your Company's product or service.
An example would be" I was calling to ask whether from your point of view issues around XYZ are currently on your agenda/is something you are looking at and if they are/it is whether you'd like to discuss how we may be able to help" Think of as many different ways as you can to open your call with a non threatening question that puts the spotlight firmly on your telesales prospects situation and not yours and you'll find people are generally open to speaking with you, and if what you have is not a fit for them right now they will have appreciated the tone of your approach.
After the initial opening question have a plan as to the information you need to uncover to see whether you can help your prospect or not and in a conversational way ask questions to uncover the information. A natural progression of this kind of approach is that there will be a time on the call when it simply makes sense to both of you to agree your next step- it will happen naturally and not because you have "sold it to them".
9. Be yourself - you are unique
Many people when they get on the phone to do some prospecting feel like they have to become someone else. They have to become "the salesperson". You will have all heard people whose voices massively change when they are speaking on the phone and in the world of sales particularly the old style "pitch and close" environment those voices tend to be falsely enthusiastic because we have all been told that enthusiasm sells. It does, but only when conveyed in a natural way and not as part of some alter ego. So, just be you and don't feel pressured to be someone else.
After all, you are unique and your telesales prospects will buy into you just
as much as they will your product or service- so show them the real you not a cardboard cutout salesperson!
10. Test and Measure
As with all marketing activities you must test and measure your results. How many calls did you make? How many decision maker conversations did you have? How many leads or appointments did you generate from your activity? After a while you will see your ratios starting to develop and you'll be able to pretty accurately predict that if you make x calls you'll generate y appointments or leads. Experiment with your calls, try different questions and approaches but above all enjoy it. No doubt about it, if you approach your calling sessions in the right way you'll produce the results you're looking for and you'll want to make prospecting by phone a regular part of your business development plan.
I wish you massive success.
Source: Curtis Calloway link