Telemarketing is a common aspect of many organizations that sell products and services. From a business standpoint, effective telemarketing can support long-term, positive relationships with customers for many years. Whether a company is engaged in inbound telemarketing for customer support or outbound telemarketing for sales, marketing research, and accounting functions, having a solid process in place to manage calls is critical.
Success Tips for Telemarketers
Telemarketers come from all types of backgrounds and experiences, but there are a few universal qualities that can help make someone highly successful. The following tips can help telemarketers develop skills:
- Demonstrate effective listening skills. Be willing to listen to the customer to determine the underlying needs. Use reflective statements to clarify and responsively address this with the customer to exceed their expectations.
- Anticipate customer needs and get to know them. Over time, a telemarketer will learn to anticipate what customers need to become raving fans. Use above-average customer service skills, positivity, and professionalism to demonstrate how well you know customers.
- Use accuracy and great problem solving. Effective telemarketers know the products and services of the company inside and out. They can communicate this well, solving problems for customers, logging notes accurately, and supporting the long-term retention of customers.
- Be willing to go the extra mile. When customers sense a telemarketing professional is able to bend over backwards for them, they generally respond more favorably.
- Share new products or services that complement the needs of the customer. A skilled telemarketer does not come off as overtly sales-oriented, but instead introduces new services or products in an upsell fashion that's natural and addresses customer needs.
- Clearly communicate ideas and verbalize words. It can be challenging to conduct calls with customers, but a good telemarketer will use the phone system well to communicate clearly with customers, enunciating words correctly and staying focused on the objective.
- De-escalate angry or difficult customers. Whenever the phone call becomes negative, or the customer grows angry, difficult, or confused, a well-trained telemarketer can use effective communication tactics to de-escalate the call to a reasonable conversation.
Telemarketers only have a few seconds to make a first impression on the phone; therefore, consider the following tips:
- State the reason for the call and ask for the right person immediately. This ensures the telemarketing agent is speaking to the decision-maker from the start, with a purpose clearly stated.
- Use a pleasant and clear speaking voice at all times. A telemarketer speaks carefully to reduce miscommunications.
- Remain free of distractions. Background noises, eating or drinking while on calls, talking with others, and not paying attention to the client can cause telemarketers to miss important client cues.
- Use active listening skills. As often as possible, telemarketers should reflect and clarify what clients state to avoid communication errors.
- Keep the prospect focused on the call objective. Avoid letting the person on the call to get off track or become distracted from the purpose of the call. Know how to redirect effectively.
- Maintain patience and professionalism. A professional demeanor is key to getting the most from telemarketing.
- Always say "thank you." The prospect's time is valuable, and no matter if a sale is made or not, it's professional to thank them for their time.
In many cases, particularly with less experienced or new telemarketers, a telephone script is a useful tool.
- For sales calls, use a script for stating the pitch. This helps to stay on topic and acts as a reminder to use certain phrases and legal disclaimers.
- Scripts can be designed for consistency. When all telemarketers on a team have access to a proven script, this can help them pitch more effectively using the same methods.
- Use the script for quality assurance. Telemarketers can be observed and rated for performance based on the same set of sales delivery metrics.
- Script strong rebuttals for managing common client objections. Whether the telemarketer is new or experienced, a list of responses to common prospect objectives can help to increase confidence and sales.
- A solid script can increase confidence and keep telemarketers on task. Again, telemarketers can lean on the script for stating the correct information, addressing concerns, and effectively delivering the pitch to prospects.
- Use a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) platform. This can deliver custom scripts and sales pitch information at the right time so the telemarketer doesn't lose track of what he or she should be saying.
Key Benefits of Telemarketing
According to MarketingProfs, the most effective lead generation tactics include inside sales, events, telemarketing, and email newsletters. Telemarketing has many benefits.
- It allows companies to test the market and gain immediate feedback while reducing costs. There's no need for expensive travel because most information can be obtained through a brief conversation over the phone.
- It opens doors for additional sales without long periods of waiting. When conducting sales calls, customers can immediately indicate their interest in upsells or new offerings.
- It provides a more personalized, responsive, two-way conversation between the business and the customer. Speaking directly with customers on a regular basis lets them know the company cares about their needs and wants to solve their problems.
According to Chief Marketing Officer statistics, "Telemarketing dominates response rates among existing customers with a 12.95 percent rate." Even so, it can be difficult understanding what to expect during telemarketing, but the most basic method should include getting in contact with customers in a timely fashion. Telemarketing results are generally measured in conversion rates for sales, percentages of collections, and customer satisfaction ratings for support calls, as well as other metrics.
For example, if a telemarketing professional calls to advise a customer about a new product and manages to convince the customer to buy the new product in the first call, then the sales conversion is 100 percent effective. If the telemarketer calls to collect on a past due bill and the customer pays half of what's owed, then there is a 50 percent collection rate. If a customer calls for product support and is asked if they are satisfied with the results of the call and rates the telemarketer as an 8 out of 10 scale, then the company is 80 percent successful with making that customer happy.
Cost of Telemarketing
When determining the costs of telemarketing, it comes down to how many hours are dedicated to telemarketing and how many calls are conducted per hour. For example, if a telemarketer is earning $10 per hour, working five hours during peak call times and handles 20 calls per hour, the cost per call is 30 cents. The additional factor, then, is how much revenue is generated by the calls. If the calls bring in $3,000 in a five hour shift, then the profitability is $600 per hour. As one can see, this is a very cost-effective method of conducting business.
While it's nearly impossible to calculate, it's important to note that there can be variations on costs based on warm (nurtured) leads vs. cold calling, as well as outsourcing telemarketing vs. keeping this process in-house. However, Forrester Research indicates, "Companies that excel at lead nurturing tend to generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent less cost per lead" of other companies that don't use direct marketing. Additionally, DemandGen Report indicates that, "Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads." Think of the costs, then, as being around 20 to 30 percent less for a company that engages in marketing automation to produce warm leads.
Telemarketers do not have an easy job, nor should their skills be taken for granted. Their efforts produce a high rate of return in terms of sales generated and fostering good will with customers. By following the above tips, any telemarketer can improve his or her skills to become a top performer.