Telephone sales, or telemarketing, is a widespread, efficient and effective method for making contact with prospects and closing sales. Telemarketing is also an effective method for selling new or additional and services to existing customers.
Today's telemarketer, however, has to break through more "communication clutter" than ever before. You're not only competing with messages from other telemarketers for prospects' attention, but also with advertising, news broadcasts and a myriad of other marketing communications tactics.
By its very nature, telemarketing creates a unique selling environment. You're solely dependent on the words you say and the tone in your voice. Check out telephone skills for some helpful hints on using your voice to show your personality over the phone.
Benefits of Telemarketing
Increases your sales territory while reducing the cost of "sales visits."
Increases your efficiency because you can reach more prospects per hour, day and week by phone than you can with in-person sales calls.
Provides an effective way to perform relationship marketing. You can use the phone to stay in touch with existing customers, introduce new products to them and make additional sales.
Allows for interaction and personal selling. You can immediately respond to feedback from prospects while you're engaged in the sales process. This differs from less interactive sales methods, such as direct mail.
There are also a few drawbacks to telemarketing:
High "acquisition cost" per sale for purchased prospect lists that typically contain many unqualified prospects. For example, if you purchase a list of home owners in a particular zip code, you'll most likely have a low number of interested and qualified prospects. This is not to say, however, that it's not a worthwhile way to gain customers!
Once a novel way of selling, telemarketing has unfortunately moved into the category of a nuisance to many consumers.
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You have just a few seconds to make a good initial impression on the phone. Your careful preparation for the call can increase your chances of having a conversation with a prospect rather than hearing that familiar dial tone.
Always be courteous and professional. Remember, you're a sales professional who just happens to use the phone to sell.
Be sincere at all times. People will sense insincerity on the phone even though they can't see your facial expressions or other non-verbal communication clues such as hand gestures, head nods and body posture.
Keep your work area neat–it'll keep you focused and organized.
Dress like a sales professional even if your prospects will never see you.
Keep a mirror handy so you can check to see if you're smiling during calls.
Don't practice on prospects with a few warm-up calls at the beginning of the day or week. Role play with someone if you need to, or just talk out loud in an imaginary conversation to warm up.
Meeting annual goals requires setting and meeting daily goals. Record you progress on a daily basis.
Keep records of the contacts you make for future reference. Note dates for follow-up.
Keep track of your success rate in getting through to the decision maker or closing a sale. This will help you identify and correct any weaknesses in your strategy or approach.
Use your prime selling time–the hours your prospects are most easily reached by phone and are the most receptive–for selling activities only. (Experience will quickly let you know when your prospects are most receptive!) Conduct homework, research, planning or other administrative activities at other times.
Use past experiences to help you prepare for and react to current situations. For example, if you continually meet the same objection to what you're offering, brainstorm all the different ways you might meet this objection so you'll be prepared the next time it pops up.
Develop a script for the call to keep you on track but never read directly from it. Write the script as you talk. That way, when you vary from the script, your words and phrases will be consistent.
Consider using introductory or follow-up letters, product fliers or other marketing materials.
Use other "communication" tools as necessary to support your telephone sales, including cellular phones, fax machines, hands-free headsets, email, etc. For example, part of your selling process may be to offer prospects a product information sheet by fax or email.
End calls quickly, but politely, when it becomes evident that a prospect is either not qualified/is not going to buy. Your time on the phone is precious. Spend it selling!
Some successful telemarketers never leave messages. They simply persist in placing calls. If you decide to leave a message, keep a few things in mind:
Speak with confidence and authority.
When you're able to talk with a secretary or with the assistant to the person with whom you'd like to talk, ask about a time that might be best to call back. Offer choices. Rather than, "When is a good time to call?", you might say, "Is morning or afternoon best?" or "Would or be a better time to call?"
When asked if you'd like to leave a message, you might state, "I'll be in and out of meetings; it's probably best if I just call again." This lets the screener know that you're a busy professional, too.
Try to call early in the morning or late in the evening when secretaries might not be in the office screening calls.
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