Follow Up Best Practices

ARTICLE #5 IN A 6 ARTICLE SERIES

Now that you’ve gone live with calling (Article #4 – Getting Your Telemarketing Campaign Started), there is a good chance you have found there are many different results from the calls. Next steps with clear actions or an appointment are the best results. However, not all calls are as easy as that! Other results could be:

  1. Request for more information
  2. Request for a call back
  3. A question is asked that requires research on your end, then a call back

More Information

Often, there is a fine line between a prospect who is genuinely interested in receiving more information and someone who is trying to get you off the phone. As you spend more time teleprospecting, you will learn how to discern possible interest. Do not be afraid to “test the waters” in an effort to qualify interest. Your time is important – spend it wisely.  In our opinion, if a prospect asks for information to be sent, they should also be willing to share why they are asking. If you still feel unsure, and you have tried to validate the reason, err on the side of caution and send the information – you never know when they might need your product or service.

It is very important to accurately capture the prospect’s email address and/or physical address.  Obviously, email is a more desirable and economical way to send information.  Also, the more specific the information is to the prospect, the better. It will take more time to send a tailored message, but it is worth the extra effort.

And of course, after you have sent the additional information, don’t forget to call back in a few days! Your follow up at this stage becomes very important.

Call Back

Keeping in mind that your prospect was not waiting by the phone for your call, you will frequently find that you have caught them at a busy time. In this instance, ask what day and time is best for you to call back. It is important to make it a priority to call your prospect back at their requested day and time – this will show you are respectful of their time and will start building trust and respect.

When you make the follow up call, remind the prospect you recently spoke with them and are calling back per their request. Refresh their memory of your previous conversation by restating something they told you. Be prepared to have a productive conversation with them about your product or service!

Often, voicemails will get in your way; use it as a tool on occasion. A message that is brief and informative is not a bad outcome.

Research and Call Back

Sometimes, a prospect will ask you a question you do not know the answer to.  This is okay and generally a sign showing the prospect has a level of interest in your product or service.  When this happens, never feel like you need to make up an answer, as this can lead to confusion and make the prospect feel you are not creditable.

Instead, let them know they asked a great question! Tell them you do not know the exact answer and would not want to lead them astray. Ask if you can call back with the correct answer – let them know approximately how long it will take you to get back with them.

Complete the necessary research and follow up with your prospect. This is another example of building trust and credibility. If you are unable to get them back on the phone, leave a voicemail or email with the answer.

Speaking with prospects and following up as promised is how the sales process gets started. It is important to show your prospects that you are credible and reliable as these first phases of the sales cycles are the foundation of your relationship with future clients. Do not get discouraged if you are asked to call back at a later time – it is a natural request and allows you the opportunity to show you respect their time and requests.

Follow up is all about timing, good planning, and being prepared.  If you are diligent and committed to the process, positive results will happen.

Be sure to read the final article in the “How to Implement a Telemarketing Campaign” series – Measuring and Analyzing.

For more information, contact Mike (miked@dunlapmarketing.com) or Kaitlin (kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com).

Getting Your Telemarketing Campaign Started

ARTICLE #4 IN A 6 ARTICLE SERIES

feet running

When you sign up for a marathon, or any athletic event, there is a lot of planning that goes into training and the day of the event. While the planning is necessary and will help your marathon go smoothly, there is one fact: the only way to cross the finish line is by taking one step at a time. When doing appointment setting and lead generation, the same approach holds true.

This “one step at a time” principle can be used in many different aspects of work. Similar to running a marathon, looking at a prospect list that needs to be called can seem like a difficult task to complete. However, if you make one call at a time you will eventually get through your list and cross the finish line!

Making cold calls is not what someone puts first on their “to do” list. Human nature usually drives people to do everything else on their list before making telemarketing calls. Commonly, they hope that time runs out before they have to make the calls. Or, they hope their boss assigns them other work before they have to get on the phone. This type of behavior is exactly why many call projects either never get started or they are started, but are never completed.

When assigned the task of telemarketing, try to designate specific times of day to make these calls. Treat the assignment like it’s an appointment. Everyone is willing to stop what they are doing to honor an appointment. Schedule specific blocks of time in your calendar each day, over an extended period of time. Each block of time should be approximately two hours long. Additionally, set reasonable and measurable expectations, such as:

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of actionable events identified
  • Number of appointments set

Two-hour segments each day is enough to settle into a rhythm, but not so much time that someone gets burned out. Two hours per day over four or five days per week results in 32-40 calling hours per month. This much time will typically yield very positive results and selling opportunities.

Do not let yourself get stuck on trying to make the telemarketing campaign perfect before going live with your calls, as this is rarely possible. If you seek perfection, there is a good chance the calls will never get started. Accept that there might be shortcomings (ie: possible unexpected questions, questions you don’t have answers to, missing contact names). This is okay, but if you have followed steps 1, 2 & 3 there is a good chance you are prepared to start calling. You can refine and optimize as you go. Keep in mind these calls simply get the sales process started; this should be your primary goal. There will be future steps as you advance through the sales process to address questions that you were unable to answer during your first calls.

When someone asks, “how do you run a marathon?” the answer is “one step at a time”. Now it’s time to pick up your phone and get your appointment setting and lead generation campaign started, “one call at a time”!

Stay tuned for our next article discussing follow up best practices.

The Importance of Practicing a Telemarketing Script – Lead Generation or Appointment Setting

ARTICLE #3 IN A 6 ARTICLE SERIES

practice makes perfect

HOW TO PRACTICE A SCRIPT AND PRACTICE WITH YOUR STAFF

“Practice makes perfect!” We all grew up hearing this phrase from our parents, teachers, and coaches. While this phrase has proven to be accurate in sports and schoolwork, have you ever considered it for your telemarketing efforts?

As discussed in “Writing a Script for a Telemarketing Campaign”, having a script is vital to successfully executing a telemarketing campaign. This notion can seem somewhat black-and-white. However, what is not always black-and-white is the notion of practice. There are two different components of practice when it comes to telemarketing: practicing the script and practicing with your staff, commonly known as role-playing. These two go hand-in-hand and are equally important.

Practicing the Script

It is amazing how differently a freshly written script sounds when you hear it spoken out loud as opposed to when you write it and read it silently to yourself. Practice allows you to identify the weaknesses of your message and subsequently, correct those weaknesses prior to going live with calls.

In some businesses, prospect database records are very valuable. There are not enough records to waste during early stage phone calls where the process has yet to be refined. Testing a script in a role-play environment helps preserve the value of prospect records. Almost always, you are going to find the opportunity to refine, improve, and provide more clarity to a message during a testing phase. Testing the message will also help develop a more complete list of common objectives and FAQs, as well as prepare appropriate responses to commonly asked questions.

Practicing with Your Staff

Role-playing is one of the more nerve-wracking elements of a telemarketer’s job. This can be seen as the “down-side” of it; however, the good news is that role-playing is the best training for when the calls go live. It offers benefits such as feeling comfortable navigating the script, becoming familiar with common industry terms, and an all around feeling of preparedness.

It is difficult to find shortcuts when it comes to the act of preparation. Your employees should competently represent your company if they have spent 30-60 minutes speaking the message and addressing common questions and challenges during a role-playing session.

The 30-60 minutes of practice makes the assumption that the staff is already experienced at making prospecting calls or is knowledgeable in the area of your product and/or services. If the caller does not have either area of experience, role-play will take longer, but it will be time well spent. Try to create an environment where you can minimize nervousness.

Once your staff is prepared, the next step is to go live with calls. Stay tuned for our next article, which will focus on key points of going live with telemarketing calls.

Identifying Your Database for a Telemarketing Campaign – Appointment Setting or Lead Generation

ARTICLE #1 IN A 6 ARTICLE SERIES

INGMRF-00058232-001

HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR DATABASE

If you read “6 Steps to Implementing a Telemarketing Campaign” (see “6 Steps to Implement a Telemarketing Campaign”) and want more detailed information, you have come to the right spot. The first step to a successful telemarketing campaign, especially when making cold calls, is to identify your database.

In building a new prospect database for an appointment setting or lead generation campaign, it is very important to think through and identify key demographics. Consider your thought process initially around how you would classify your “A-List” prospects. In most cases, you will be able to identify these companies. If you are not able to define an “A-List”, consider analyzing your existing customer base; one idea might be to mirror similar types of companies.

The following are common criteria used when building a telemarketing database:

  1. Geography – this can be as specific as zip code, radius, city, county, state, and beyond
  2. Industry type – this can be done by using SIC or NAICS codes, which allow you to specifically or generally select the type of businesses you want to reach
  3. Annualized revenue – this allows you to select revenue ranges/categories of the size of businesses that are the best fit for your company
  4. Employee count – as with #3, this allows you to select ranges/categories of employee numbers that are the best fit for your company (it is common to incorporate revenue and employee count to work in unison with each other)
  5. Facility type – this allows you to select corporate headquarters, single location, subsidiary, and/or branch location

There are a variety of other selection options; however, these are the five most commonly used for successful telemarketing results.

When using most web-based data tools, you can also gain access to the top executive name and title. Some tools allow you to select other contact names; but it is common to find these options fairly incomplete and not always updated. Having these names can help make a cold call feel more like a warm call. It will expedite the time it takes to reach your end goal, whether it is appointment setting, lead generation, or general business development.

If this is your first prospect database list, you might not be concerned about duplicate records. However, if you are building a list and you also have existing prospect lists, it is common to suppress your newly defined list against your current list; therefore, minimizing duplicate records. This is an important step if your existing list has been maintained and updated. Suppression steps are common when you are trying to expand your prospect database.

Depending upon your business, record count can vary. If there is a high record count, I recommend being more specific on criteria to become more exact on your “A-List”. This will allow you to purchase fewer records initially. You can always obtain the additional records later on. There is no need to purchase records today that you will not get around to calling for a period of time.

What do you do after you identify the database? You write a script. Scripts are another critical aspect of an effective telemarketing campaign. Check out our next article, “Writing a Script for a Telemarketing Campaign” , which details the process of script writing.