Experience Matters When It Comes to Telemarketing
Lots of people think that you can hire a warm body, give them a script and point them to the phone and then sit back and wait for the leads, appointments, and sales to start rolling in. However, many who go down this path don’t achieve the results they anticipated. In fact, they not only don’t positively “move the needle” on their sales performance, they often negatively impact their productivity, brand and sales results.
The ingredients for a successful telemarketing/inside sales initiative include an accurate target database, a compelling message/offer, technology (CRM, phone system, etc.) to improve efficiency, a strategic sales process, and a highly trained and experienced execution team. Each of these variables is important. However, the experience of your team is the one variable that can boost performance even if the other variables are lacking.
A common axiom among football coaches is “You can’t coach speed.” Athletes either have it or they don’t. You can’t teach someone to run fast. The same is true with business acumen. It’s difficult or impossible to teach. It is something that’s acquired over time with experience. This element is critically important, especially if you’re targeting executive-level decision-makers. You need to engage the executive on their level, speak their language, and understand their point-of-view.
When engaging your target contacts on the phone for the first time, you often have just a few seconds to make the right impression and earn the right to have a conversation. The call could be a very short one if your introduction is timid or if you hesitate before responding to their first objection. Experience produces confidence and confidence allows the caller to control the call. Confidence is a critical element to address and gain the cooperation of gatekeepers – the administrators, assistants, and underlings who are trying to keep you from talking to their boss. Confidence will also help a caller overcome objections and engaging executive level contacts in an actual dialog. Many calls to executives are monologues. It’s either the caller trying to communicate their message to their target contact or the target contact taking control of the call and telling the caller why they’re not interested. The goal is to conduct a dialog – a conversation where both parties convey and receive information.
Probing, Drilling Down and Clarifying
It’s easy to spot a rookie telemarketer or inside sales person – they typically talk too much. They spew all the information they’ve been taught about their company; the features/functions of their product; and how they can solve everyone’s problems. However, in most cases, that’s not the goal of the call. The goal of the call is to engage the prospect and learn new information about them, their challenges, their objections, their budget and their decision-making process. To do this, you must ask the right questions and then shut-up and listen. This is a skill that can be taught, but usually takes time to refine. A stand-up comedienne relies on comic timing to deliver a joke. They use rhythm, tempo, and pacing to enhance their humor. The same can be done with selling over the phone. Knowing when to ask a question; how to ask a question; when to clarify information; when to interrupt; when to probe for more information are all skills that come from experience.
It Takes a Team
Experience is not just relevant for the front-line sales staff. What about your managers? Do they not know how to establish and monitor KPI’s? Can they the analyze data to know what the KPIs are telling them? Can they then translate the analytics into an appropriate coaching plan for the team and customized for each individual? Continuous performance improvement only comes when someone is paying attention to the details and then knowing how to make the right adjustments. Managers also need to be coaches. They need to take time to listen to calls. They need to know what to listen for and then be able to provide feedback that will be received positively by the team.
Having an experience telemarketing team can help avoid the common pitfalls associated with launching and successfully executing inside sales initiative.