You also need a realistic view of your campaign. As a telemarketing consultant for over 20 years I work with sales professionals in a variety of industries. Everyone from insurance agents to mortgage brokers to graphic designers require cold calling services and quality appointments. The thing they all have in common besides needing quality appointments, is the unrealistic expectations that come with obtaining them. The reason I teach my classes, write this column and wrote my book "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-size Firms" is to educate business owners and sales people on the art of telemarketing and business development. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when starting a new campaign and working with a telemarketer.
"?¢ Lesson One: Know what a quality appointment is and define it with the telemarketer so that you are both clear about what the salesperson expects. If you´ve hired a new telemarketer, be sure to relay what worked and what didn´t with him/her so that they have a clear understanding of the pitfalls awaiting them.
"?¢ Lesson Two: When designing your campaign, be conservative, start slowly and know what a telemarketing campaign can and can´t do. I often have clients that hire a telemarketer and think that it´s going to improve or turn their firm around immediately. While a good program can in fact provide some world class prospects, it isn´t a cure-all for solving a money crunch or a lack of clients. Telemarketing should be thought of as an extension or a part of an over-all, well rounded business development campaign. However, most sales people make the mistake of expecting a telemarketer to either save the business or generate hundreds of qualified appointments/leads in a very short period of time. And when that doesn´t happen they´re disappointed. Hence, one reason telemarketers are touted as being ´flakey".
"?¢ Lesson Three: If you´re making cold calls, don´t expect appointments the first week of a new campaign particularly if your telemarketer only calls part-time. A reasonable amount of time would be within the first two weeks of a campaign. Not sure this is true? Think of it this way. Making a cold call is like looking for a needle in a haystack or combing through a stack of cold call leads within a limited period(Keep in mind ,this is an estimate). Let´s say that you´re calling for 7 hours a week and you have 150 cold call leads in front of you. Out of those 150 leads, let´s say that you are making 10-15 dials per hour (approx 105 dials total) for that day. Keep in mind that these are dials not contacts. Now, out of those 105 or so dials you leave 20 voice mails; have 10 wrong numbers, 5 disconnected numbers, leaving you 70 dials. Out of those 70 potential contacts for the day you might reach 15 people (let´s assume the rest are not in or available). Now here´s where people get lost. Out of those 15 people you need to reach a) the decision maker b)make sure that they have a need and an interest in your product/service c) have the money or budget and d)are ready to make a purchase within 1-3 months. Failure to have any of these pre-qualifiers will not result in a" quality appointment" because the telemarketer will naturally focus on quantity instead of quality to get the job done. Bottom line is that a telemarketer has 7 hours a day to pre-qualify over 100 leads to get to the 1 person who meets the above qualifications. Having said that, decide how realistic your expectations are. The solution is simple. Focus on gathering info rather than setting the appointment the first few weeks of a new program (if you get a prospect who meets your criteria its ok to book a meeting). The purpose is to get the name of the decision maker, mail information and determine interest.
"?¢ Lesson Four: If a prospect request information from you, send it. Most decision makers are very visual. They need to see what your services are all about before they agree to meet with you. Also be sure to verify their name, address and e-mail.
"?¢ Lesson Five: Follow up on every piece of information that you send out. The first two questions you will want to ask the prospect is if they´ve received the info and if they´ve read it (you´ll want to make sure they´ve reviewed the info you´ve sent to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you want).
"?¢ Lesson Six: Follow up on every call back. Sometimes when I´m consulting with a new client, I will ask to go through their database to see what leads are available. What I often find is shocking. More often than not their database is riddled with leads that have been called once, were interested in setting up a future meeting after receiving info, but were never followed up again. It´s a waste of time, money and energy not to follow up on every lead.
"?¢ Lesson Seven: A qualified appointment is no guarantee of a sale. Consulting with a client means that I often have to be brutally honest with them. Just because a prospect has booked an appointment and has an interest in a quote, a budget and will be purchasing a similar product/service soon is no guarantee that they will sign with them. Sounds simple I know but it´s a big problem for telemarketers because the salesperson will often lay blame at the telemarketers´ feet for not closing a deal. Keep in mind that a telemarketer´s job is to get your foot in the door and gather information. Making the sale and closing the deal is entirely up to the salesperson.