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).

Start The New Year Smart – Sell More Business

bitesizeelephant

HOW TO IMPLEMENT A SIMPLE PLAN TO SELL MORE BUSINESS – APPOINTMENT SETTING AND LEAD GENERATION

How do you eat an elephant? What a silly question! Adult elephants range from 6,000 – 12,000 pounds – eating all of that would be a very large and daunting task (no pun intended). But, hypothetically speaking, if you were to eat an elephant, how would you accomplish that?

One bite at a time, of course.

By the way, how does eating an elephant have anything to do with telemarketing?

Generating 70+ new leads in 2016 might seem like an unrealistic goal, similar to eating an elephant. However, if you break it down into “one bite” increments, you will see how generating 70+ new leads is, in fact, a very obtainable goal.

To start, keep in mind that the mentality behind “one bite at a time” is to keep the task at hand, in this case, generating 70+ qualified leads in 12 months, simple and manageable. With this mind frame, you will be able to see the simplistic impact this method can have on your lead generation and appointment setting efforts. Here is how you do it:

January 2016:
200 Start with 200 target prospect records (Don’t know how to build a prospect database? We can help with that – “Identifying Your Database for a Telemarketing Campaign”)
3 Make 3 call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week to make 3 calls into 200 records (32 hours per month) – this is equivalent to 1.6 calling hours each business day, or 20% of your day
6 Lead opportunities identified in January (generally speaking)
February 2016:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records (300 cumulative prospect records for the year)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of January’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total February prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in February
12 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD
March 2016:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records (400 cumulative prospect records)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of February’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total March prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in March
18 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD

Do you get the gist? …We thought so. If you continue this discipline for April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November, your December will look like this:

December 2016:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records added (1,300 cumulative prospect records)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of November’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total December prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in December
72 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD

There you have it, the results of a disciplined approach to 2016 – 72 leads in 12 months and now you are a sales pro! Obviously, some of these will not ultimately work out, but certainty, a good amount of them will convert into proposals, then become new customers for you. Additionally, you will have developed a great database (pipeline) of future opportunities.

Lead generation and appointment setting isn’t as bad as you might have thought. By the way, how did that elephant taste?

Kaitlin Dunlap – kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com – 281.496.9870 x180

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.

Cancer Didn’t Stop This Ironman

319852_10150900900249866_565581312_n

Inspired by “Movember” (November is the month that is associated with raising awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer.) and with the season of giving upon us, we wanted to share a story about Mike Dunlap, president of Dunlap Marketing. The below article, written by freelance writer, Annette Baird, was published in the Houston Chronicle in June 2012. Mike gave his time and energy to raise awareness about prostate cancer. How can you use your talents and skills for the good of others this holiday season?

It’s been about two decades since he saw his first Ironman competition on TV, but west Houston resident Mike Dunlap said the impact of the competitors and their stories stayed with him.

Recently, Dunlap, 51, completed his first Ironman and has his own story, persevering in circumstances that might have stopped the less determined.

Since signing up last June to compete in The Woodlands Ironman, Dunlap went through surgery for a dislocated shoulder, a diagnosis of prostate cancer and subsequent surgery and a bout of kidney stones.

None of these obstacles weakened Dunlap’s resolve, and on May 19 he completed the grueling race, which involved a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, in 13 hours, 52 minutes and 10 seconds, finishing 76th out of 133 in his age group.

However, it wasn’t his personal accomplishment that Dunlap wanted to bring attention to. Rather, he wanted to raise awareness about prostate cancer and the need for regular check-ups, especially if it runs in the family as did his.

“There’s a ton more information about breast cancer, which is terrific, as compared to prostate cancer, ” he said. “But it’s compounded by the fact that guys don’t want to talk about such a thing.”

Dunlap’s physician Dr. Brian Miles, a urology oncologist, recommended that men age 50 and over should be tested annually for prostate cancer, while men with a family history of the disease or who are African Americans should start at as early as age 40.

“Thirty-two thousand men will die this year from prostate cancer, ” Miles said. “Learn from someone like Mike that this is a real disease that can have an impact.”

Dunlap had set his sights on competing in an Ironman before he turned 40, but life and a passion for tournament waterskiing got in the way. The proximity of The Woodlands competition, however, was too convenient to pass up.

In shape from waterskiing and the Rummel Creek Men’s Boot Camp he helps run, Dunlap threw himself into a rigorous training regimen. But just weeks into training, he dislocated a shoulder and had to have surgery. Undaunted, Dunlap was soon back to cycling and running, holding off on swimming until his rehabilitation was over.

In the meantime, a routine check-up handed Dunlap a not-unexpected diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer. Dunlap’s father had prostate cancer, and two of his four brothers had been diagnosed with the disease just months before.

“I knew I was going to get prostate cancer, ” Dunlap said. “I was prepared to get it, but I was a little angry about the timing.”

Dunlap’s father eventually died of leukemia, while his brothers, ages 47 and 57, are doing well, he said.

Persuaded by his wife Meegan and three daughters to have the surgery sooner rather than later, Dunlap had his prostate removed in January and was lucky enough not to need further treatment.

His training schedule pushed back further, Dunlap admitted to feeling sorry for himself at times, but drew strength and inspiration from family friend 16-year-old Courtney Pette, who had recently overcome lymphoma.

“I thought about how Courtney handled herself against a much scarier challenge, ” Dunlap said.

Dunlap’s friend and fellow boot-camp trainer Lance Mosby never thought the cancer was going to stop Dunlap, despite the looming competition.

“Even after surgery, when it’s very sensitive to ride a bike, he was still going to ride a bike, ” Mosby said.

Ride, run and swim, he did.

Update:

Since Mike’s Ironman in May 2012, he has not slowed down much at all. He has participated in many running events ranging from 5Ks to a 200-mile relay race. His passion for helping others keeps him running on. In June 2014, he did a 50-mile trail race to raise money for Snowdrop Foundation, a non-profit that raises funds for pediatric cancer research.

When Mike isn’t on a training ride or crossing a finish line, he is busy being a husband, father, and business owner. In 1996 he started Dunlap Marketing, a Houston-based telemarketing firm that focuses on lead generation, appointment setting, and survey services.