Catalog and Direct Selling: Get on the Horn
Build additional sales through an outbound call program
Even in the face of increasing privacy legislation and mounting consumer backlash, there is a place for outbound telemarketing programs in consumer catalogers’ contact strategy. Like any customer contact, an outbound call program is most effective when relevant to the customers who receive it.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using outbound call programs to build additional sales for your catalog business. On the upside, the call is a highly personal contact point with customers that allows you to directly communicate an offer that, ideally, has some urgency. And much like e-mail campaigns, offers that are working (or tanking) can be modified quickly to allow for maximum success. On the downside, outbound call programs can be expensive to execute and, if done poorly, can really tick off customers.
Outbound call programs can work for just about any consumer cataloger. The recipe for success includes knowing your audience, crafting your offers and effectively executing your program.
Know Your Audience
All of the data needed to determine the best prospects to receive a sales call should be available in your database. First and foremost, determine who on your customer file has a valid phone number. If you’re testing the program, don’t put resources toward acquiring phone numbers from outside data sources right off the bat; use the information on hand to craft your test.
If you have the luxury of long-term planning on your side and can afford the extra expense, ask customers to opt in to a call list when they place an order. A customer who gives you permission to call is far less likely to be turned off when you call than one who has not given permission.
If time isn’t on your side, dip your toes in the pool before you jump. You’ll need to start with a small—but measurable—sampling of your best customers and diligently gauge their reactions on the phone. If there’s more resistance than receptivity, reconsider. If your very best customers don’t want you to call, it likely will only get worse as you move down your file.