12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing Calls
Outbound agents always encounter some people — at least 10 percent — who will say "no" to everything, even if you're giving your product away.
On the other hand, agents will encounter another 10 percent who will say "yes." These prospects either happen to be in the market for your product or service at the time of your agent's call or have difficulty saying "no." This type of prospect is what I call the "unreliable yes" — they eventually end up canceling.
The remaining 80 percent of prospects require the agent to conduct a skillful presentation of the product or service. This explains why some agents have a higher conversion rate than others. These higher-producing agents are selling or promoting the same product or service, and have received the same level of training. But what sets them apart from the lower-producing agents and the non-producers is how they deliver their message.
When it comes to stating the purpose for the call, a skilled agent likely would start with: "We have been serving the community for over 50 years. We have an exciting new home division and would like to provide you with more details. In order to accomplish this, I need...> to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don't mind."
The "probe" step is one in which the agent asks three levels of open-ended questions that attempt to qualify the prospect, establish his or her wants and needs, and create the need for your offering. Some appropriate questions:
If the prospect provides this information and is not interested in vinyl windows, the agent should ask: "Understanding that vinyl windows are guaranteed to reduce your heating and cooling bills by a minimum of 40 percent...> what are some of the conditions preventing you from looking into vinyl windows as a cost-effective alternative for you to at least consider?"
Most prospects possess what I call "prepurchase/service insecurity," which is the fear of making a decision immediately — on the line — and later regretting it. Steps 5 through 9 of the call script help to eliminate this fear.
Whether the agent is selling a product or service, or trying to establish a lead or appointment for a field representative, the prospect needs to have confidence that this objective is worth his or her time and investment.
If the prospect's answers are not positive at the probe step, the agent should not continue. If the agent does, he or she will undoubtedly face resistance.
If the prospect does respond positively, and is forthcoming with information, it then would be appropriate for the agent to thank the prospect for sharing. An agent should say, "Thank you for sharing this information. I want to be sure I have it correct. [Restate the prospect's answers.] Is that correct?"
This step offers clarification and reinforces the prospect's needs.
7. Benefits and Features
Once the agent is able to qualify the prospect's needs, establish his or her wants, and create the need for the company's offering, the remaining steps are smooth sailing.
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.