Event Telemarketing A guide to best practice
First Edition 2014 First published in Great Britain 2014 Copyright Tracey McInnes 2014 Contact the author: email@example.com www.procoms.co.uk
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, and recording of otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. This book is sold / distributed subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisherâ€™s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
In this e-book … Introduction
Page … 3
Traditional selling is dead – long live sales
Support collateral & escalations/actions
Staff skill sets
About the author
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Introduction Having been involved in telesales and telemarketing for nearly 30 years now, I have had plenty of feedback from clients and prospects, colleagues and friends about the effectiveness of it, the annoyance that it causes and very rarely is it positive feedback. When I tell people what I do, I have to caveat it by explaining that I am in “business to business” telemarketing and not the kind that interrupts you in the middle of East Enders! In these changing times of social media and email marketing, you may think that there is no longer a need for it, well you would be WRONG. There is in fact an increasing need for it and the next generation will have to be taught how to pick up the phone as it is not their default business tool. The contents of this book will explain the key elements of successful telesales and telemarketing which have been learnt over 30 years and some 7000+ client campaigns. I have been working with most of the top media and events companies over the last 10 years and have had the privilege of being involved with some of the world’s top brands. In that time, my company has delivered every type of telesales and telemarketing campaign possible within this sector.
Traditional selling is dead? – Long live sales. Industry comment would have us believe that traditional sales no longer have a place. Questions are being asked like “have empowered buyers and marketing tech killed sales”? The new trend is “sales enablement” and involves a closer alignment between former arch enemies the sales and marketing departments. This argument is perfectly valid but my fear is that the direct client contact is being forgotten in the mix. It is far easier to send an email or contact a cold prospect via Linked-in, than to make a phone call and get rejected. I am a dyed in the wool traditional sales person and even I find myself responding to client enquiries by email, sometimes for quite considerable opportunities. I have to remind myself to PICK UP THE PHONE. I run a 50 seat business to business telemarketing company and yet my young management team will far too often come to me and ask me what I think x client means in the content of their email. My first question is “have you phoned them”? Then you can see a little light go on! They had not thought of that. I can see myself with a specific job in the future that teaches people how to make contact with prospects and clients, using a telephone to make actual CALLS! The other trend that we see is that of “networking”, where many people are present in a room/bar/hotel etc and it is all very convivial and not at all threatening, however they are rarely people that you could actually do business with. Going back to when I started selling advertising back in the 1980’s, we actually called people who we had qualified as being appropriate to sell to as they were buying from the competitor etc. Then we made an appointment to go and see these prospects as the time spent would put us in real danger of making a sale. If we are to get the best use of new and emerging media channels then we need to ensure that using the telephone is a part of the sales and marketing mix. As the graph below demonstrates, the first step in the process is to build and qualify a good prospect database. Tools like Linked-in, web research and competitive sources can be a good starting point. You should then use telemarketing to build data at contact level, capture email addresses and make it your own. Plus ideally factor in a qualification process to determine if the contacts are interested/in the right business/job etc. to be a good prospect. Then you can start to work that data by driving them to your web site, mailing them and inviting them to events, whilst at the same time using advertising and PR to build brand awareness.
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Very few methods of contact are as effective at generating new business in the shorter term as telemarketing. You can use it to create new business leads and appointments and build your sales pipeline to support a telesales team. It can potentially reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of an expensive sales team. There is also the potential of completely eliminating the cost of the face to face sales team if your brand can be sold entirely over the phone. It is certainly worth the consideration.
Prospect data All too often, my telesales team have been given data which is so broad that it takes weeks to even get to the point where you have a targeted list of prospects. Delegate acquisition is typical for this. A telesales/telemarketing resource is not a cheap one and it is certainly not cost efficient to call a lot of people who are not relevant to your product or service either because they are in the wrong industry, the wrong job role, the wrong company size, geography or they just plainly are not the type of people to buy what you are selling. Clients will typically say “we can sell to all of these people”. I am sure that they can but some of them will be much more likely to buy than others. If you are running an email campaign then by all means try and get your message out to a broader audience as this is a cost effective way to do so. You can use any positive response like enquiries, click-through and brochure downloads to follow up using telemarketing but otherwise, refine the data as much as you can to make your calls count. One great use of social media is to build a targeted base list of the type of people that you want to speak to and use a combination of web research and telephone calls to qualify this audience and capture email addresses for targeted emails and general marketing to build your brand awareness and recognition of an event. The next step is ideally to qualify this data further by getting through to your prospect list to establish if they are actually the type of person who is right for you to sell to. You can then eliminate those that are never going to buy and pass through qualified data to a telesales team and/or a sales team. A good example of this is a recent client who is launching a consumer electronics event in South Africa and needed to build a list of prospects around the world that may be interested in exhibiting. The first step was to find consumer electronics companies that had exhibited at other events, web research for their telephone numbers, then call to capture the international marketing manager and their email address at reception level. The next stage was to make contact with these prospects and determine if they were even looking at Africa as an emerging market for their products and eliminate those that were not and start to pipeline build those that were. You can of course buy in data but this will also need work to qualify and to get to your specific targets within a compiled list.
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Structured Process In order to make every telemarketing call count and be as productive as possible you need a structured process. Most people that I see running a telesales/telemarketing department are using CRM systems or Excel spread sheets and/or some kind of call logging system. These are rarely joined up and take so much manual manipulation that they cannot possibly give back accurate, timely and structured information about the work rate and effectiveness of a telesales agent or a campaign. The result of which is that you could find out that a campaign, dataset or agent is failing weeks too late. Or worse case is that you never find out why your telemarketing is not working. Time and money can be wasted quickly, especially if you have a large team. Over the last 25 years, I have been developing a piece of software, which started its life in DOS and is now a browser based system. This technology provides complete structure around the telemarketing process. I like to think of it as a mirror image of any business process as it is based around questions and answers. This system allows us to create a questionnaire around a campaign which contains the sales pitch but also captures back answers to questions for analysis and reporting systems. Each questionnaire is linked to a calling list so that every bit of contact data has detailed information appended to it during a call. The result of this is that it provides consistency in monitoring call rates, contact rates, success rates and the sort of feedback that we get from our customers, customers. This can help our customers re-shape their offering, change their data or just get a good sense of the consensus from their database. It also enables us to train people quickly and send out templated leads, appointments and email collateral. The focus and the productivity of the telesales agents is optimised and the whole process becomes far more cost effective. EVERY CALL COUNTS.
Or an Excel spread sheet?
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Involvement As a provider of an outsource service, we know that the more involvement that we get from our end client, the better the results of their telemarketing project. Those that give us 2 hours training on a conference call will get what they deserve. Just because you are outsourcing does not mean that you can devolve yourself of responsibility and blame the outsourcer when things go wrong. Whether you are running an internal telesales team or outsourcing the same applies. Give extensive product training and skills training if required, and then check that the telesales agent has taken it on board properly and is applying it on every call. Feedback good results and not just the negative ones and help with providing information to overcome objections. Most of the learning’s will come after several days of making calls and getting objections, then overcoming them. If you are not around to give this support then how does the telesales person build this knowledge? You are probably the person with the most knowledge and experience of your specific product and service so use it to make the best of your telesales support. Once this resource is established, then they will need less and less support like with any other role. You will get back what you put in, in equal measure. A good example is a recent client campaign which was a very high end sale into very large organisations and a complex proposition. We sat one of our agents in the client’s offices but using our technology and management support until he was comfortable with the proposition. Then we bought him back into the call centre environment and continued to manage and monitor his work rate and results.
Training Things that you should consider in your training process;
How to get past a gatekeeper Product knowledge Features and benefits More product knowledge How to ask open and closed questions appropriately Even more product knowledge Objection handling Some more product knowledge Discovering needs, desires and issues Product knowledge Closing techniques
The reason that I mention product knowledge here in such an obvious way is because without that you cannot do many of the other things effectively. I regularly see people put on the phones without this key skill. It is my belief that a telesales person should sound the least like a telesales person as they can to be able to get past a gatekeeper and be taken seriously by the decision-maker. The best way to do that is have a natural conversation using excellent knowledge of both your product and service and theirs. This is actually mostly done by LISTENING and responding accordingly. NOT LIKE THIS: Helloooo how are you today, I am a telesales agent working in a call centre and I have no knowledge of what you do or if my offering is relevant to you but I would like to ramble through this script anyway whilst you are doing something else in the background just waiting to tell me to “send you something” and then never taking my call again! Calls can be seriously wasted like this as no interest is established, no objections come up to handle and you really have no clue of what your pipeline looks like because you have not engaged with your prospect!
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Support collateral, escalations & actions You will need to consider what you are going to send when your prospects ask for further information. Do you have an html email/is your website up to date and does it contain relevant program information? Do you have an online booking process. What will make most impact if your telesales agent has to default to sending something in order to get further along the process with the client? What happens if you have a positive outcome and need to send out leads/appointments/booking forms. You need a quick, easy and preferably automated and traceable way of creating these escalations or actions without the telesales person having an excuse that they have to do lots of admin. In the example below we can see a template email being automatically sent out as the agent clicks on “send information” answer in the structured questionnaire.
Management In the same way that your involvement is key, so is the on-going management of a telesales resource. Making cold calls is one of the hardest jobs in the world, so it is no surprise that telesales agents need constant management, motivation, back patting etc. It is very normal for a telesales agent to find any distraction not to make the next call. Going to the toilet, making tea, talking to the marketing department, sending an email, going for a smoke break ……… If you are serious about an effective telesales department then you need good management with the right monitoring tools. Otherwise consider the outsourcing route where you will have this management as standard. I have been lucky enough to develop the technology to monitor the effectiveness of a telemarketing team and I have sold this into other telemarketing businesses and internal telesales units BUT this is only part of the solution. You can have all the statistics in the world but if no one is monitoring, managing, motivating, supporting based on what they see and hear, then it is totally ineffective. EXAMPLE PERFORMANCE REPORT
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Reporting There is reporting and there is reporting. There are many systems on the market that will give you call logging statistics like how many calls a person has made, call duration and so on. However this really tells you nothing apart from how many call attempts an agent has made and if they are talking a lot. A report from a CRM system may tell you pipeline information but does not give you the statistics around what kind of activity and outcomes came before this point. You can try and join up the two things but this usually requires a lot of manual processing which is both time consuming and unreliable. What you really need to know is much more detail to enable you to make informed decisions. This may be that your dataset is not working or is largely inaccurate, one or more agents are not suitable for the project, the proposition needs changing or that your realistic expectations are actually WRONG. In our environment, we are able to monitor how many calls have been made, how many contacts have been spoken to, how many event registrations or other target outcomes have been achieved, how many bits of email fulfilment have been sent out, how many people are interested, not interested, why not interested……….. These parameters will tell you everything that you need to know about the agent performance, the campaign performance and the feedback from the marketplace. You can measure people against their peers and even have full knowledge of the quality of the data and how far through the database you are in terms of contact. Better still is when you have a live wallboard that is reporting on not just calls but target outcomes and revenue generated.
The report above is a telemarketing analysis and because the questionnaire based system captures specific answers to multiple choice questions you can get a consensus of the customer feedback in the data. These answers can be whatever you want them to be.
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The report above is a campaign analysis which gives a top line overview of everything about a campaign. How much data, how many calls, contacts, primary outcomes, secondary outcomes, negative outcomes, quality of data etc and all measured against a budget or timeframe to track whether you are in front or behind in terms of progress.
Skill Sets There are two key things that a telesales agent needs, some skills to do the specific job and then the work rate to make sure that they speak to enough people to make the exercise cost effective/successful. We have implemented training and monitoring process, using a 3rd party sales training company called “Silent Edge”. This is the best thing that I have seen for measuring the skill sets of agents in a consistent and objective manner. The Silent Edge program includes a tool that you can use internally to assess, coach and train your agents. It works on a scorecard system based on the core competencies required for each skill set. As an example we have 3 levels of agent; data cleaner, soft sales and telesales/lead generation. We therefore designed 3 different score cards to measure the skill sets of each agent according to their skill set and also to observe where they have the skills to move up a level. A data cleaner needs to be polite, thorough and accurate with minimum sales skills, whereas a person undertaking a soft-selling role needs to be informative and capture feedback but does not need the skills to close a sale as much as the telesales person. The telesales agent/lead generator needs more training & coaching to be able to ask open and closed questions appropriately and discover needs & desires, issues and challenges to be able to sell to a customer. Each agent is listened to for an hour whilst making calls and the assessor simply ticks off whether they did a certain thing according to a score card. Note they are not ranking them, just flagging yes or no. They will also take notes but not feedback to the agent there and then. The next stage is a feedback session where the assessor presents the results and discusses the strong points and the areas for improvement. This is followed by a coaching session to work on the areas highlighted and then some top up telesales training provided by Silent Edge. We were trained on the tool and the process of assessing and coaching so that we can apply this across the business for every new recruit and staff member. The benefit to the organisation is that we have a consistent way of measuring all skill sets and progressing people to the next level through the business. The telesales agent feels more valued and is more motivated to do well. We position their roles as developing them in a sales and marketing career rather than just “working in a call centre”
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This is an example of a scorecard which measures core competencies of a telesales or telemarketing agent.
The screen above shows some of the feedback reporting to discuss things that the agents are doing well and where they need development.
Staff Productivity Your agents could be the best sales people in the world but cold calling is hard and the tendency is always to find a diversion rather than make the next call. That is why we recommend that you implement an easy way of measuring staff productivity that is visible either at the touch of a button or on a live wallboard. These tools can be used effectively to motivate agents by pitching them against their peers in a transparent way. The fact that this is real-time works better in this case as there is a constant reminder of how they are doing. If they are paid bonuses based on performance then this can be reported real time too. Typical call rates should be 100+ per day, up to 300 if you are data cleaning, The contact rate can be anything between 5% and 30% against the number of calls made. Meaning that you could speak to only 5 – 30 people per day if you are making 100 calls. If your success rate is 10% to contact then you can see why the call rate is important. Reduce this productivity to 50 calls per day, and then obviously your chances of success are halved. These patterns vary between industries, level of seniority, type of contact and proposition. However once you start to see the pattern form, it rarely varies unless the data is changed or you have some poorly performing staff. By measuring call rates, contact rates and target outcomes on each project, each hour for each agent you have all of the key performance indicators covered as far as productivity rates are concerned. EXAMPLE WALLBOARD
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Pipeline building If I had a £1 for every time a prospect or client has told me that “telemarketing does not work” I could retire on my own island! The main reason that people think that it does not work is that they measure it differently to any other marketing activity or sales generation/ sales resource. Plus they tend to have totally unrealistic expectations. Why oh why is it realistic to expect that with a completely broad database of unqualified prospects which you are cold calling, that you can do a few weeks or even months calling and get an immediate ROI? If you employed a new sales person with no existing contacts of their own and no existing clients to chase, how long would you expect him or her to take before they started to pay for themselves? 2 weeks? 3 months? 6 months? Hmmm exactly. Telemarketing does work given the right time/investment and realistic expectations. Pipeline building starts with all of the things that I have mentioned earlier. Building target data, qualifying target data, marketing to said data, calling to pitch (3 or 4 calls attempts later), determine interest, send something, schedule call back (3 or 4 call attempts later) gain interest but not yet ready to buy. You need to consider your average pipeline building timeframe for other types of media or sales activity, then add some time if data has started from cold. Once you have done the calculation then you can work out your minimum investment period before you get close to a return on your investment. TRUST that if you do it right and if your proposition is saleable it will work over time. You just need the balls to invest and keep going.
Realistic expectations This is another example of the sort of thing that if I had a £1 for every person who has come to me to take on their business risk and who thinks that you can achieve miracles overnight by calling a few people and getting an immediate result because their offering will sell like sliced bread, I could retire on two desert islands. If you think that you can make a few hundred calls over several weeks or days and get an immediate result, THINK AGAIN. Telemarketing can be effective on a short term basis if you are doing certain types of activity:
Getting people along to an event Conducting a piece of research or customer satisfaction survey Upselling existing clients to a low end sales proposition Building or qualifying data.
Business generation however TAKES LONGER. I refer you to page 14. Beware anyone that says that they can get you a quick result with no previous experience of your data, business or proposition. If they cannot get a result in the time allotted to do this cost effectively, they will stop trying and/or you will end up with badly qualified leads and you will come away saying that “telemarketing” does not work. Or you could use one of these:
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Environment With the best will in the world, it is very difficult to sit a telesales team in the middle of an office where other people are not targeted to make lots of calls and there are many distractions to stop them PICKING UP THE PHONE. There are of course benefits to having your telesales sitting with your sales team, your marketing team or your customer service team as long as they are well motivated, monitored, managed and do not get pulled off to do other jobs. That reminds me of another thing that I hear from clients that have set up telemarketing in-house. X is meant to be making calls in the morning but then she does this in the afternoon. Or x takes my inbound calls and does my admin and she is meant to make outbound calls. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? There is a benefit to outsourcing if you do not have a fit for purpose environment for your agent(s) or a dedicated management resource. In a well-run telemarketing agency, you should expect good structure, process, productivity, management and monitoring as well as an environment where everyone is targeted to make lots of calls. As long as you follow all the other rules in this ebook then you will succeed.
About the author: Tracey McInnes Tracey is the founder and managing director of Procom Connections and previously Campaign Connections, both are outbound telemarketing agencies, working on behalf of 3rd party clients. In the last 25 years, Tracey and her staff have been involved in well over 7000 client campaigns of differing levels and in various industry sectors. Clients have ranged from business equipment, IT, Telecoms, professional services, financial services, building/ architectural and events/media owners. In 1989, Tracey started to develop the software that is used to run her business and now other people’s businesses. Then it was a DOS based program and now it is available as a browser based system on a cost per seat per month model. Tracey’s vision for this was due to the on-going debate about whether to run an internal or external telemarketing team. This system allows us to offer clients the best of both those worlds and use just our technology, our technology and management or our complete outsourcing resource. Prior to launching the first telemarketing business, Tracey ran a successful business magazine called Business Connections. This came about after a 6 year spell working for Patey Doyle Publishing on Office Magazine where she started her telesales career, selling advertising space. During this time, she also ran sales teams when promoted to Advertising Manager and Group Advertising Manager. During a 5 year period from 2005 to 2010, she also became part of a group of companies and was involved in a buy and build strategy with venture capital funding. At this time, Tracey had an outbound team of 60-70 agents and a customer service team of 20-30 under her ultimate management.
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Tracey can be available on a consultancy basis for telesales/telemarketing and customer service projects. If you are looking for a piece of technology to run your telesales then you can benefit from her 30 years of experience automatically by purchasing Connect licences. www.procoms.co.uk
A guide to best practice First Edition 2014 First published in Great Britain 2014 Copyright Tracey McInnes 2014 Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, and recording of otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. This book is sold / distributed subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
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