12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing Calls
Since the national Do-Not-Call Registry took effect, many telemarketers have inundated unregistered consumers with outbound calls. And many call centers have discovered just how crucial it is to have properly designed scripts that are in compliance and distinguish them from the competition.
In today's heavily legislated environment, companies are forced to make drastic changes to their script-writing principles. These changes are made to ensure that their agents adhere to legal requirements while being able to meet demanding production quotas.
Whenever making outbound calls — particularly cold calls — scripts require careful, step-by-step planning to help agents get through the calls professionally and personably.
Throughout the years, I have had many opportunities to visit call centers across the globe, and have identified two primary weaknesses in many agents' call scripts:
- Most scripts do not provide enough focus in the flow for agents to easily channel from the "introduction" to "post close" call phases. Typically, it's expected that the agent "think outside the box," but in reality, that is not always possible when the agent is inexperienced and/or poorly trained. An ineffective delivery will reflect negatively on your company — ultimately causing a decline in sales and customer retention.
- The agent may not know how to overcome the primary fears of his or her prospects. For the past 19 years, I have been teaching my "12 Steps To Successful Telemarketing" to call center agents worldwide. These guidelines provide a road map for agents, giving them options for when the prospect drives the conversation in a new direction. When the steps are followed, your agents' productivity will far surpass production requirements and meet the demanding compliance issues we're facing today.
To demonstrate the process in a real-world environment, here are the 12 steps I used for a company that sells vinyl siding and windows. Before the firm used this script, its agents were generating one appointment every three hours with a 50-percent cancellation rate. With the steps, they were able to make one appointment every hour with a 10-percent cancellation rate.
The first four steps in this process are designed to help overcome the prospect's resistance before it occurs. The "introduction" answers the prospect's immediate question of, "Who are you?" The next few steps tell the prospect why you are calling and help you get his or her buy-in to continue talking.
Agents should start by saying, "Good [evening], this is [full name], and I'm calling on behalf of [company name], which provides [products or services] to individuals in [prospect's area]."
Agents should not pause in their delivery until they see the strategic pause symbol: "...>". This pause keeps the prospect's mind engaged. Agents should always use voice inflection when they see italics.
If the recipient of the call has been a customer before, it's important to cite that history. If not, the agent should immediately say something like, "My company requested...> that I contact you personally."
3. Request for Time
Agents always should thank the prospect: "I appreciate you taking my call." If the prospect is busy, an appropriate response would be, "Why don't I call you back in about an hour? Would that be all right with you." Make this a statement, not a question.
Note: When a prospect flatly replies, "I'm not interested," before you explain the purpose of the call (Step 4), it would be appropriate to say, "I respect that. I would like to provide you with more details about our new home division. Would that be all right with you."
If the prospect sounds positive, and gives an affirmative response, the agent can say: "In order to ensure you receive all the information we offer, I need...> to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don't mind." If the prospect agrees, skip right to Step 5.
If the prospect is willing to receive information, but not willing to answer questions, then the agent can say, "Once you've had an opportunity to review our information, we would like to gain your feedback. Does that sound fair enough?"
If the prospect agrees, then it's a two-call close — another agent will have the opportunity to follow up with the prospect at a later date. Otherwise, the agent can close by saying, "Thank you for your time. Hopefully we can be of some help sometime in the future. You have a pleasant day."
4. Purpose of Call
When it comes to making outbound calls, I teach agents what I call the "10-10-80 rule."
Related story: Cold Calling Getting the Cold Shoulder
Kathy Sisk is founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc., a global consultancy specializing in inbound and outbound call center training, recruiting and outsourcing services. Sisk is the author of "Successful Telemarketing," a handbook on how to set up and manage a successful call center. For more information, visit www.kathysiskenterprises.com, or call her at (800) 477-1278.