The new shorter Oxford English Dictionary lists "telemarketing"or "telemarket" as marketing goods or services etc., by means of using unsolicited phone calls to prospective customers. While this may be a good definition for telemarketing, it isn´t altogether accurate. Did you know that every firm in the world uses one form of telemarketing or another? In truth, telemarketing takes on a variety of forms including appointment setting, lead generation, sales, market research and customer service and not all of them are unsolicited. Each form has a different function and object which is indicative on the purpose of the phone call. This is important because to really understand why we make the type of phone calls that we do and why probing works, we need to be aware of what the outcome should be. Here is a description of each function as it is used in everyday business.
Appointment Setting-Quite simply, these are appointments that are set with leads generated thru call backs (more on call backs later) or cold calls. It is probably the most used form of telemarketing in business today since most firms need to book appointments with prospects and clients. Setting an appointment isn´t as simple as it seems because it takes a certain amount of finesse, diplomacy and skill, to convince a prospect to interrupt their day for a sales call.
Lead Generation-If you´re going to set an appointment, then you must first generate a lead. Leads are generated thru either a cb (call back) or referral. Referrals are generally more reliable because it comes from a known source. A client or good prospect will be able to give you pertinent info on a new or potential lead and also help you create an affinity with the person. When I do workshops I always ask if the attendee remembers to ask for referrals. Most sales people either forget or feel uncomfortable because they think that it´s an invasion of professional and private space. This may be true but remember that in the sales arena, everyone is a prospect. If you don´t ask for a referral, then believe me, your competitor will.
Call backs on the other hand are established thru a series of cold calls .At some point the prospect may request information be sent to him/her to either learn more about your firm or to get you off the phone. I think in certain situations its okay to send info to keep your name in front of the prospect thereby gaining exposure. Think of it this way, with so many of your competitors vying for the same clientele base, it´s imperative to keep your firm´s name in the fore front of the prospects mind. So even if the prospect is blowing you off, you can still keep him on you mailing list. He may not be interested today but six months from now, your firm may be the one he/she contacts mostly because they have your brochure and are ready to do business.
The bottom line is that Lead Generation is simply gathering info to use at a later date either to send literature, set an appointment, follow-up or close a sale.
Customer Service-If you have customers, then customer service is a big part of telemarketing and thereby your business. Unfortunately this form of telemarketing is often neglected by even the best companies. The truth is that we as sales people spend so much time landing the account and making standard sales promises(we´re faster, cheaper, better)that we forget to really take care of the customer´s needs. Without the attention to the customer´s needs, there is no honor or credibility in your services. Make the customer feel important or they will surely take their business elsewhere. It´s as simple as that.
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Tony Wilkins is the owner of Telemarketing Consulting Services and author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms´ available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at
http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success via e: mail at email@example.com or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column, please contact Tony Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org