Since this is a column about cold calling, I begin by saying that no, I haven´t lost my mind. However, a recent conversation with a client got me to thinking about all the reasons a cold calling campaign might fail. This particular client is beginning a new program and is a bit unfamiliar with some of the tricks to effective cold calling. He and his staff have been cold calling sporadically to increase visibility and sales and while all of them are talented, the campaign is still in the fine tuning stage and therefore needs a lot of work. So with him in mind I decided to share some of the top reasons why most campaigns fail even before making the first phone call"?¦.
1. Lack of consistency
A campaign will always fail to get off the ground if you only work the leads in your database once a month. The hotter the lead, the more you need to follow-up on a regular and consistent basis. This means that you must call, send e-mails, faxes, schedule appointments, re-schedule appointments on a regular basis.
2. Lack of familiarity with your market
Target marketing is not only knowing who to sell your product/service to but also knowing what to sell and who will buy it. For example, if you´re an insurance broker selling life insurance to home owners, you might be pushing a boulder up a hill. While life insurance is an important component it´s a difficult market to sell over the phone to a typical homeowner. Also it´s not a priority for everyone. Now let´s say the same broker offers more services like general liability, workers comp and health insurance to small business owners. By knowing your market you can actually market these services over the phone easier because most small business owners need these services. Once you get your foot in the door you can cross sell pretty much anything you want. My rule of thumb is to always try to focus the sale on what my market buys most. It´s called "creating the need".
3. Not showing up for an appointment.
Okay, this one is a no brainer, but it does happen. Sales people get busy, and sometimes so overwhelmed with paper work and other obligations that they forget that the main job is to sell. Not showing up for an appointment is like saying to a prospect that their business isn´t important to you. If a cold caller sets an appointment for you, be sure to not only confirm the appointment but also to show up for it. No one wants to do business with someone who is likely to drop the ball once the contract is signed. Getting off to a good start will go a long way to building trust and sales.
4. No Follow up.
Following up with a prospect, particularly after sending e-mail, literature or a proposal is one of the main rules of thumb to sales. More sales are lost when a sales person neglects to make the effort to find out if a prospect is still interested in their services or not.
5. Not keeping your name in front of the prospect/Not sending literature
And while we´re on the subject of sending literature, please remember that most people are visual. They need to see information in order to digest it. It´s also a great way to keep your name in front of the prospect longer. Even if the prospect doesn´t use my service for 6 months, at least they will receive literature from me at regular intervals thereby insuring name recognition.
6. Relying on cold calling alone to do the job
Once upon a time, a small business could build up their clientele by simply hiring a cold caller, going on appointments and hoping for the best. Those days are over. To really compete with your competitors, you must utilize a multitude of promotional techniques like conducting workshops, writing articles and sending press releases. Remember, the more exposure you generate for your firm, the more chances you´ll have to sell.
7. Purchasing a bad list to call
This can be a death knell for your campaign even before it gets started. Buying a bad list is not only a waste of time, energy and money but it´s a good way to lose a great telemarketer. Telemarketing is difficult enough without handing a cold caller a list of prospects that either don´t need or want your services or are no longer in business. If you must purchase a list be sure to make sure it´s a market that´s going to increase results not decrease them.
8. Pushy telemarketers who don´t listen and don´t probe
This is a big bone of contention with me because cold callers are still being taught to sell the company´s product/service without knowing if the prospect has an interest or is even a candidate for their services. In order to sell your services you need to find out what the prospects level of interest is and you can only find that out by asking probing questions.
9. Telemarketing scripts
While I´m not a big advocate of telemarketing scripts as a rule, I do understand the need for fine tuning a phone presentation. Here´ the problem with telemarketing scripts. If you´re focused on reading a script then you´re focus isn´t on listening to the prospect which is imperative to making the sale or appointment. If you can´t describe your services without a script to the average person, then you won´t be able to do it over the phone.
10. Selling from fear and shame
Another problem with using a script is that most cold callers are so afraid of rejection (fear) and uncomfortable with selling their product/service (shame) that they suffer from faster, cheaper, better syndrome. In other words, they spend a lot of time cramming info down a prospects throat as opposed to listening.
OKAY I´M GIVING YOU ONE FOR FREE
11. Not blocking out time to make cold calls
This issue came up recently during one of my workshops. While many cold callers love the information at the workshops and gain a lot from them, getting them to commit the time necessary to make the cold calling campaign effective is a challenge. Look, you´re not going to generate the sales or appointments you want if you don´t make cold calling a priority. Treating your cold calling campaign as no big deal is as good as treating your next sale as disposable.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column, please contact Tony Wilkins at email@example.com