I always remember my Dad’s advice to me:
The telephone ringing for you is an invitation i.e. you don’t have to answer it.
Compare that with our behaviour today.
Most of us make ourselves available pretty much 24/7. We always answer everything – often straightaway. And minutes later, if it is a telemarketing call, we get irate if we weren’t expecting the call, or the caller has interrupted us and is wasting our time.
Now, whose fault is that?!
Do you dislike ‘telemarketing’?
Maybe our reaction to telemarketing calls (as above) explains why many of us dislike making telemarketing calls ourselves?
By ‘telemarketing’ I mean any of the following – cold/prospect calling, telephone follow up, research calls, customer care, etc. In fact, telephone skills in a professional business context are becoming a lost art. Many prefer to hide behind email and social media, avoiding the telephone.
Or maybe we don’t like putting ourselves forward. For some of us, it could be something about being British, perhaps?
How to start a ‘telemarketing’ call
One aspect of telemarketing that many people struggle with is how to start the phone call.
An important opening, after a quick introduction, is:
“Is now a good time to talk?” or in the words that feel natural to you
Something like this is a good way to start – and you can use it whether you are calling established clients, suppliers, or following up a referral.
It has several advantages.
The question means you get permission first, before you dive in. It provides a pause and gives the person you are contacting a feeling of control – they can say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. And what could be better than them giving you a specific time to call later, when they are going to be ‘all ears’?
Whereas if you didn’t check it was a good time for them, you might merely be wasting your time.
Telemarketing – Some Pros and Cons
Telemarketing may not be everyone’s favourite method of marketing but, compared, for example, to sales literature, e-newsletters, and sponsorship etc., it has clear advantages that are worth bearing in mind:
- You can’t beat having a conversation with someone, can you? It’s an excellent way to start or nurture relationships. Some people prefer the telephone or Skype to meeting up. For some, a call is a necessary step before meeting.
- On the phone, it’s easier to focus on people’s words – to hear their tone and phrasing – than when sitting face to face, when there are often more distractions.
- You can get immediate feedback.
- It is far, far better than emailing and texting in building and nurturing relationships, which may be today’s commonest method of communication but are ripe for miscommunication, misunderstandings … and worse.
- You can build meaningful metrics to calculate cost of sale and return on investment.
But Yes, there are challenges to bear in mind, such as:
- It can be scary, particularly at first.
- On the phone, there is a danger of talking over one another. Especially on first calls when you are working out individual pace and tone.
- You can talk yourself out of an opportunity quickly – listening to when to stop and agree the next step, such as a meeting, is a real skill.
- It can be a slog at times. People often expect too much, too soon from putting time aside to make calls. Or they under-estimate how hard it can be to speak with people when we are all so busy and have ways of avoiding the call.
And watch out for making the cardinal sin: trying to sell before your relationship has developed sufficiently or losing sight of why you are calling, for example to try and meet up. (The same is true when doing social media, of course.)
Want to UP your telemarketing skills?
Bearing in mind the above, my experience is that telemarketing is an extremely useful tool for:
- Increasing sales
- Building better relationships
- Enhancing reputation
- Retaining clients
To achieve its potential, however, it should to be part of a wider sales and marketing process – of which the phone is just a part.
If you’d like help with discovering whether telemarketing is right for your business, how to implement a telemarketing campaign and/ or train your team, book a half hour phone/Skype call with me on 01235 606077 or firstname.lastname@example.org