By Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo Finding new customers and sales opportunities is one of the most difficult and challenging activities that companies and professionals have to tackle. In our courses and when providing consultancy the question “How can I increase my sales?" is one of the most common, associated with “How do I find new customers?”…
The marketing technique which sells goods or services by telephone – better known as telemarketing – was very successful in the early 2000s and contributed to the development of entire economic sectors, such as the mobile telephony market. Over the years the indiscriminate use of this tool, which has mostly affected the final consumers, has led to its negative reputation. Nowadays, following the emergency we have just experienced, telesales are back into the limelight. In today’s article we are going to examine the 4 elements we consider strategic for designing and implementing successful telemarketing activities, and see how to combine them to achieve even more effective results.
A dedicated team: people make the difference
First of all we think that the most effective way to obtain and monitor your results is to create a special team within the company, dedicated to telesales and committed to the development of the client portfolio. An internal team allows you to maintain a consistent business style and ensures constant interaction with the sales department. Make sure the team is “dedicated”, i.e. specifically intended for this task, as this activity requires rhythm, perseverance and adaptability to the specific requests of the interlocutors. It is actually a demanding and strategic kind of work, not just a “stop-gap” job to fill your spare time! Activating a contact management team requires 3 basic steps:
- identify the candidates focusing more on their communication skills than on their technical competence, which can be developed at a later time. We recommend you plan at least one phone interview, as this is the means of communication the new employees will have to master.
- provide ongoing specific training, not only about effective phone communication but also regarding the company and the solutions to propose
- arrange some coaching sessions and employees assessments in order to provide specific advice and develop a performance improvement plan for each employee.
Photo Shane Rounce by Unsplash
According to the number of team members you might need a team leader to supervise the activities, verify the performances, cooperate with the sales/marketing department and handle the training for new staff.
Contact database: contact those who are interested
How to choose the list of contacts to call? Starting from the analysis of the potential customer profile of your company, you can create a database of names. Companies usually have lists of potential clients which are often managed by the single sales reps or by the marketing department, or which might even be hidden in the administrative software: the first step is to collect all the data regarding the customers and put them together consistently into a homogeneous file, so that you can understand their potential.
In order to gain new contacts you can consult the lists of the Chambers of Commerce, or contact reliable dealers who can provide you with lists of different ATECO codes (indicating the fields of activity) or other parameters such as the size of a company, the geographical area, etc.
The most important piece of information you need is the name of the specific contact person who deals with the product/service you want to offer. Apart from a first “introduction” phone call, nowadays there are several platforms – as for example LinkedIn – where all the information about roles and responsibilities is clearly indicated. Careful not to exaggerate and make your database too crowdy:
the number of contacts to reach out to depends on how many sales reps are involved in the following stages and on the main goals of the activity. There is no point in setting up more appointments than those you can actually attend or in inviting more people than those you can really accommodate at your event!
Remember to explicitly refer to the law on personal data protection every time you make a new contact.
The script: prepare to enhance credibility
You can’t improvise a successful phone call, that’s why you need to prepare a script – a sort of draft of the possible dialogue between the caller and the interlocutor – which anticipates the most critical steps such as getting past the filters, introducing yourself to your interlocutors, getting them involved and interested, anticipating the most frequent objections and the following actions.
In order to create an effective script it is necessary to be very clear about the main purpose of the call – for example setting up an appointment, arranging to meet up at the trade fair, etc… – but it is also important to set a subsequent goal (dispatch of informative material or follow-up phone call). Therefore you can obtain a consistent and effective script by organising those interest “catchers” (promotions, distinctive features, case studies, regulatory adjustments) which are necessary to get your customers involved.
Many people fear that preparing a script might make the phone call sound cold and mechanical. However we can assure you that this method stimulates and encourages the ability to argue your ideas and customize your phone calls according to the interlocutors – making the callers feel calm as they don’t have to improvise. Finally, even if the phone call doesn’t bring the expected results, remember that it is still a good opportunity to build relationships and develop a better understanding of the customers’ concerns – which will help you improve your offer.
Photo Colton Sturgeon by Unsplash
Analysis of data: a compass to direct your actions
The collection and interpretation of the data gathered through a contact management activity isn’t always immediate, however it is essential to measure the actions and plan future activities. We recommend you consider the following two areas of investigation:
- Performance Analysis – timely monitoring (better if daily) of the activity performance, in terms of employee performance (for example number of phone calls and scheduled appointments), database analysis (contacts state, qualified contact people, etc.) and customer interest towards what is being offered. These data are particularly important for team leaders, who can consider them to make any necessary adjustments.
- Marketing intelligence – analysis of results and collected data, aggregated by geographical area, ATECO codes (fields of activity) and other specific parameters of the activity. The management of the Marketing and Sales Departments use these data both to evaluate the results obtained (and cross-reference them with the outcomes of the previous point) and to evaluate the follow-up.
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According to our experience – if strategically designed and organized – phone calls can still be a very useful medium for companies’ new business, particularly for those who turn to the B2B market, where it is easier to accurately identify the reference target through careful profiling strategies.
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