Telemarketing – Part 2: The importance of clear definitions & briefing

In my post about the realities of telemarketers: 99% of telemarketers don’t have the ‘Magic Touch’ I stressed the importance of having a clear understanding of what you wish to achieve from your telemarketing activity. You should be able to deliver a clear and actionable brief to your telemarketer or telemarketing team. Let’s have a look at these:

Your Objectives

In my experience, telemarketing is MUCH more prevalent in Business to Business marketing than telesales (where the goal is to take an order). How many times have your received a cold call where the opening gambit is “Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you anything…”! In essence, you are always looking to secure some sort of commitment from the people being spoken to but where you pitch your expectation for this commitment can make a big difference on the overall value you get out of the campaign. Take 2 different scenarios:

  1. You want an appointment to go to discuss your services
  2. You are happy where a person simply agrees to you keeping in touch about your services

Both of these are based on looking for people who are interested in you and your services – albeit at different ends of the scale. But think, there is a question that should go ahead of this:

Are you interested in them?

Naturally you want to make sure your target list focuses on companies that represent potential for you but even the best list will have some irrelevant companies. Even if the companies fits your requirements, don’t assume that the person being spoken to can help further your cause! An important element of any telemarketing call is to check that the person/company being spoken to is relevant and useful. Getting an appointment with someone who is just about to leave or a company that is about to close down is probably a waste of your time. Right, back to our scenarios. Once you have a company that is of interest to you, be careful of getting your telemarketer to focus wholly on making an appointment. While this may be what you want, the person on the receiving end of the call may not be ready to make that level of commitment. In scenario 1, no appointment means no go so move on to the next call. You have already established that you are interested in them so potentially a lost opportunity. In scenario 2, it is vital that the telemarketer has an ‘eye for the main chance’ If the meeting opportunity is there they should be able to see this and go for it – this is definitely a skill that differentiates the good telemarketer from the not so good. If the target contact is not willing to commit to an appointment, you have a fallback position – keeping in touch. Clearly this doesn’t benefit in the short term but over time you are building a highly qualified database of YOUR target market – an immensely valuable marketing tool. Realistically, a good telemarketer working under scenario 2 would secure all the appointments that are available under scenario 1. All the additional marketing data you get under scenario 2 – plus the opportunity to build contact and relationships over time using lower cost communication such as mail and email is effectively a free extra benefit!

The Telemarketer Brief

In a telemarketing call, only 1 thing happens – conversation. By definition, conversations are 2-way so, with the possible exception of highly structured Market Research by Telephone, having a rigid script is not terribly helpful. I know there are companies who will sell you a state of the art telemarketing system which can (allegedly) adapt scripts to match the flow of a conversation, for a typical SME telemarketing project there is nothing to beat a clear speaking telemarketer who is comfortable on the phone. To make he most of this ability they need 3 things which you should include in your briefing:

A good understanding of the product/service they are talking about

You can use product literature, your website and/or a personal introduction. All have been designed to explain your products/services so should work here.

A clear statement of the scope the conversation should cover

What questions do you want answered or what information do you want to gather? Don’t expect the telemarketer to remember all of this – particularly at first. Although I do not advocate a script, a ‘cheat sheet’ listing the core details to be covered is invaluable

Your expectation of what they might achieve

Giving an idea of what you expect can be done in (say) an hour is a useful guide – but be realistic. If you are looking for them to speak to senior people and have a decent conversation where possible, then 2-3 conversations in an hour may be a reasonable objective, maybe less for bigger companies. On the other hand, if you simply want to check and update your database of email addresses ahead of sending an emailing out then confirming/adding 12-15 email addresses in an hour shouldn’t be too challenging. Only with time and experience will you be able to fine tune what is sustainably achievable in your business.

Monitor and Review

Every hour of telemarketer time costs money and once it has gone, you can’t have it back again. During the first few hours of any telemarketing project, keep a close eye on how things are going. You don’t necessarily want to hover around the telemarketer all the time but make sure you don’t leave them working in isolation for too long. Once I have briefed a project and answered any questions,  I normally leave a telemarketer to get on with it asking them to come and talk to me once they have  3 completed  conversations. If they are back to me in 30 minutes I start asking questions. If I haven’t seen them after 3 hours…well, you get the point. If they tell you they have spoken to X people but no-one was interested then, if they have been well briefed they should be able to tell you why – which should tell you how to tune the project to start to produce more useful results. It is the job of the telemarketer to do what is asked of them. It is up to you to make sure they are!

TIP 1: Just because they won't make an appointment doesn't mean they aren't interested. Some people take a bit of time to come around to your way of thinking - or maybe the time you called just wasn't the right time for them
TIP 2: If a telemarketer can emphasise things differently, they probably will! Do you really care that they made 50 calls in an hour if no one was in! It is not about working hard it is about working effective.


Email Marketing Statistics – depends on who you are emailing

Just before Christmas we undertook an email marketing campaign on behalf of a client. It was particularly interesting because the list was split into 3 distinct target groups:

  1. Existing and Past Customers
  2. Prospects and Enquirers
  3. Other Contacts (including some ‘bought-in’ data)

The content of the message was similar in all cases but the outcome statistics were remarkably different:

Open Rates

Your customer is king
Customers: 28% Prospects: 17% Cold Targets: 15%

Click-Through Rates

Customers: 1.4% Prospects: 0.8% Cold Targets: 0.45%

Unsubscribe Rates

Customers: 0% Prospects: 0% Cold Targets: 0.5% It’s perhaps not surprising that Customers came out on top – they are the contacts with the strongest relationship with the sender; but look, open rates nearly double and click-through rates nearly treble those of the cold targets. Yet most people thinking of email marketing look at it as a tool to target new contacts.

 TIP: Your customers are out there and are keen to keep in touch with you!

Telemarketing – Part 1: 99% of telemarketers don't have the 'Magic Touch'

Let’s face it, most people don’t like cold calling yet many have this niggling thought that there are loads of potential customers out there and that if they only find someone with that ‘magic touch’ to make the calls….. How hard can it be? With over 20 years experience of Business to Business telemarketing with companies small and large I thought it might be interesting to dispel some of the myths with a series of posts. Over the coming months I will look at various aspects of telemarketing which will hopefully help you if you are considering telemarketing in your business. First I am looking at the telemarketing engine – The Telemarketer:

99% of telemarketers don’t have the ‘Magic Touch’

Most telemarketers do a tough job professionally and conscientiously but they do not have the personal motivation and silver tongue to sell sand to Arabs or ice to Eskimos (or should that be Inuit). They need to be managed like any member of staff and rely on good briefing and a strong message. Every now and again I have come across someone really special who ‘has it’. The problem is they have always fallen into one of 2 types: Type 1 They are young (normally) and talented. Their skills go way beyond being good on the phone. They are good at telemarketing but their sights are set higher. Basically they don’t stick around as telemarketers for very long so if you find one – make the most of them. Type 2 They are good telemarketers – probably more focussed on telesales with good commission where they can make more money – but can be unreliable individuals. They are great when they are working but keeping them on track can be challenging. Sometimes you find a so-called telemarketer (possibly with an extensive CV) who is truly useless. Normally they don’t last long!

TIP 1: Don't assume that taking on a telemarketer (or a 3rd party telemarketing company) will solve all your problems. Properly managed and with a strong message they can do a good job for you but you (and they) will work for it!
TIP 2: An average telemarketer working with a strong and well-targeted message/proposition will always outperform a top-notch telemarketer working with a weak message and a poorly selected audience.