Catalog and Direct Selling: Get on the Horn
Segmenting the customer file for your outbound call program also is important. Simple RFM will give you a start, but a successful program is built on product-related buying behaviors at the customer-segment level. Knowing what customers buy—and when and how they use the products you sell—will help you craft offers that make sense to the consumer on the other end of the line.
It also will help if you’re able to segment buyers by season. For example, if a customer is only a holiday gift buyer, you can put her lower on the list for a summer-time call than a customer who is known to buy during warm-weather months (unless a product-level affinity indicates she may be a likely buyer).
Start with customers who have purchased from you in the past by phone, perhaps even exclusively by phone. The purchasing channel preference should be a good indicator of initial success. If you test a program to phone purchasers from the top of your file using seasonal selections and good product-level analysis from the beginning, you should be able to establish performance guidelines for the balance of your customer list moving forward.
Finally, if your business is predominantly based in gift-giving, start the process by looking at customers who also are self-purchasers. For example, if you sell specialty fruit by mail and you identify high frequency purchasers that regularly ship to themselves year-round, you probably have a target for an outbound call program.
Craft the Offer
Ideally, outbound offers should be unique, special-value propositions unavailable through other channels. The phone itself suggests a sense of urgency that mail does not. There should be both urgency and “specialness” to the offers you put together and test for your call program. And your phone reps should never hit the phones with only a single offer in hand.