As a telemarketing and business development consultant for over 25 years, I realized fairly early on in my career that there was a huge need for information on this industry. The old way of "smiling and dialing" and "boiler room" telemarketing was leaving most consumers and prospects cold. And while telemarketing is a necessary evil (like accounting, and insurance sales) no one has really touched upon a better way to make a cold call. My goal with this column is to educate the average business owner on the art of B2B Telemarketing and Business Development. And yes, it is an art because not everybody can (or should do it). Now,just to give you some back ground on who I am and how I can help here is some background information on mself and my firm.
I am the owner of Telemarketing Consulting Services in San Francisco. My firm specializes in Business Development/B2b Telemarketing Workshops, Telemarketing Management/Consulting and Training Services for growing firms. I am also the author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid Size Firms" and conduct workshops at the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, Learning Annex and Fort Mason Center. I have been in the telemarketing industry for over 25 years and often conduct private consulting sessions with large corporations as well as one-man shops. Lastly, I am the Founder of Something to Share Business Resource Group, which offers target marketing and business resource information to small and mid-sized firms. Whew, that´s a mouthful. But I feel it’s important to know a little bit about my expertise and who’s communicating with you.
You´re probably thinking,´ this doesn´t apply to me because my firm doesn´t use telemarketing or telemarketers´. But if you´re calling prospects or customers about your service or product, even to check on customer satisfaction, then you´re conducting a form of telemarketing. The five basic forms of telemarketing are: Appointment Setting (setting an appointment for a sales call) Lead Generation (gathering information to make the sales call) Customer Service (making sure your customers are happy) Sales (selling a product/service over the phone) and Market Research (usually done with a questionnaire/ developing new markets). Are you or your sales team performing any of these functions? If you said yes, then telemarketing is already a part of your company´s marketing and sales strategy. Here´s another shocker. Most (if not all) companies use one of these forms of telemarketing and don´t realize it.
Where have all the (good) cold callers gone?
Sadly, because of the recent bad press the industry has received (do not call lists and telemarketing scams) the business community has suffered a domino effect. Since, most firms use telemarketing in everyday business, the challenge becomes finding qualified candidates to hire. When I started in telemarketing some 20 years ago, everyone I knew had a telemarketing job to get through school, pay off bills or just to earn extra money. Now, the one complaint I hear from clients is the inability to find a good cold caller. According to one of my long time clients," finding a good telemarketer is like money in the bank". "If you find one, pay them and treat them well and you´ll not only have a long term employee, but you will more than re-coop your investment in the long run".
Start with a plan
Hire the right man (or woman) for the job
Once you´ve made the decision to put together a telemarketing team, you´ll need to develop a plan. Telemarketers, scripts, phone lines are all part of the equation and yes, it´s a daunting task to say the least. So let´s take this one step at a time. Keep in mind that these are only tips and should be adjusted to your specific business. Begin your plan by hiring no more than 2 telemarketers initially. (Your campaign shouldn´t rely on the success or failure of one person).The campaign will be in the developing stage for awhile so until you get it fine tuned, keep it simple. Pay your telemarketers what they are worth, based on experience. The competitive rate for a telemarketer with 2-5 years of experience is around $13-$15 per hour. However, I recommend paying a bit more if you can afford it. Here´s why.
Hiring a telemarketer is no different from hiring any other professional. Although many classify telemarketers as unprofessional, uneducated "flakes´ nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is most are highly educated and intuitive (being intuitive in sales and telemarketing is key) individuals who don´t stay in the field because of low pay or no opportunity for advancement. Hence, they cycle out of the industry after about 5 years to look for more opportunities. Look at it this way. The average sales person makes upward of $50,000(with the possibility of advancement and/or more money) working full-time while the average telemarketer makes less than $30,000 working the same amount of hours(with no room for advancement). Here´s another way to look at it. The average salesperson makes almost twice as much as the person (telemarketer) gathering information and setting up the meeting so that said salesperson can sell your product/service and earn even more money (commission/promotion/raise). This is not to say that telemarketers are more important than salespeople however, they should be paid as an important component of your sales team.
Upcoming columns will cover everything from effective scriptwriting, overcoming call reluctance, and objections to finding lists that cost little or no money. I´ll also advise on developing effective campaigns and the secrets of telemarketing and business development programs that work. I hope these tips help you begin to create a campaign that creates success and opportunities for everyone.