A good telemarketing company is a vital part of any company’s selling process. So it’s crucial that you choose a good one in which you can have total confidence and that will represent your company in a professional manner; one that will help build and strengthen the image of your company in the hearts and minds of your target prospects. Finding the right one for you can be a process of trial and error and, whilst you’re going through that trial and error, can lose you vital time in the development of your sales pipeline and the growth of your business. Someone once said that ‘judgement is what you do when you don’t know what to do’. That’s true about choosing your telemarketing partner; you use your judgement and make a decision based on the knowledge you have at your disposal. The more knowledge you have, though, the better the basis on which to use that judgement and make a better decision. This paper aims to help you with some questions to ask your potential telemarketing partners to arm you with as much quality information as you can get, on which to apply your judgement. We’ve limited ourselves to 10 questions – we could go on for a long time and swamp you with information; that probably wouldn’t help. So here they are:-
1. Does The Telemarketing Company Specialise ? There are fundamental differences in the skills required to succeed in ‘business to business’ telemarketing versus those required in the consumer market. Furthermore, the skills required to make successful outbound calls are very different to those required for successful inbound order taking or customer care. Some telemarketing companies use the same people for a range of different projects that require different skills. This simply serves to dilute the skills of the telemarketers and, consequently, limit the success of your project and the results achieved. Make sure that you choose a partner that specialises in projects like yours; be that inbound, outbound, lead generation, customer care, or related services 2. Are The Telemarketers Script Based ? What would you think if a salesman turned up at your office to sell you something, and immediately opened his briefcase and started to read from a piece of paper “good morning, my name is Ronald from Acme Data systems. We specialise…etc”. You’d kick him out wouldn’t you? Scripts don’t work particularly in the business to business world. You wouldn’t use a script to sell anything as it simply sounds, well, scripted! Look for a company that employs people with the skill, and the nous, to develop a conversation with prospects and to steer that conversation and to bring it to a close with the result you need; and they need to be able to do that with a very wide range of people, personalities and temperaments that they are going to encounter during the day. 3. Do You Have Reasonable Access To Your Assigned Consultant ? Does your telemarketing company have an open door policy to its clients? Will they give you plenty of access to your assigned telemarketer or telemarketers; assuming you have assigned telemarketers. If you don’t, that should raise a lot of other questions as to how the telemarketing company is going to build their knowledge and expertise in delivering your project. You will benefit from access to your assigned telemarketer(s) as you can listen to them making calls on your behalf. You can sit next to them with a headset where you can hear both ends of the conversation. You’ll get to hear your prospects’ reaction to your proposition and you’ll get to hear any unexpected objections that the telemarketer is encountering. You’ll have the opportunity to work with your telemarketer to ‘tune’ the message and to maximise results.
4. Are The Telemarketers PAYE Employee’s ? Does the telemarketing company have its own PAYE employees? Some telemarketing companies use casual labour students or part time people working at home. Be very cautious if this is the case. These often don’t work well in the business to business world. Some even use off shore call centres. Let’s make no bones about these – this is a cost saving strategy for the supplier – there are very few benefits to the customer other than possibly price. Off shore call centres can work for Technical support, inbound order taking, customer service or even outbound consumer calling. It is very unlikely to work for business to business appointment making or lead generation. It simply doesn’t have the partnership approach required. Ask your telemarketing partner how they employ their staff and where they are based. Whilst you’re there, ask them their average age and the type of Background their telemarketers come from; what selling experience do they have. Telemarketers aren’t overtly ‘selling’ but they are ‘selling’ the prospect on spending time to meet with you. So they do need an element of selling capability. 5. Are Your Telemarketers Incentivised, If So How ? Ask about telemarketer incentives. If the telemarketing company has good telemarketers working for them, they are very likely to be the sort of people that respond well to incentives. Their performance will vary with the way in which they are incentivised. Be careful with those that are incentivised on quantity only. These are incentives like ‘make 2 appointments a day and get extra money’. You can be sure that the number of appointments will be achieved and the extra money earned, but the quality of those appointments may well be less than desirable. You may well find yourself driving all over the place to meet with people who have little intention of buying from you or don’t have money to spend on your product. Look for balanced incentives that reward quality and quantity.
6. What Are The Ages And Experience’s Of The Telemarketers ? What you are paying for when you pay your telemarketing company, is the skill, capability, commitment and everything else about the telemarketer(s) themselves; and the results they achieve, of course. So ask about the telemarketers; ask about their average age and go look at them and make your own assessment. Ask about their experiences prior to the joining the company. Ask to listen to some of the telemarketers working and make your own judgement about their skills. Whilst you’re there, use your senses to ‘feel’ the working environment. People buyfrom people, as the saying goes and this is equally true of your prospects ‘buying’ a sales appointment or lead from your telemarketers. To maximise their performance they need to feel good about themselves, good about their company and good about your product or service. Look for signs of a supportive and ‘team’ environment. Listen what happens when someone gets a result on a project – do their colleagues leap up and down and congratulate them? Telemarketers definitely do not respond well to a ‘rule by fear’ management style, but work extremely well in a ‘team’ environment where they get all of the support they need to achieve success. 7. Do You ‘Own’ Any Appointments Or Leads Generated ? Ask about any results that are generated on your project. Are those results, in terms of appointments or leads, unique to you? Will your telemarketing partner guarantee that? Will they sign a non-disclosure agreement for you Committing them to not disclosing those prospect details to anyone else? Some telemarketing companies do ‘sell’ appointments or leads to a number of clients reducing your chances of closing some business. 8. Do You ‘Own’ The Prospect Database ? What happens to the prospect database during and after your project is completed? Whilst the telemarketers are working through the prospect database, they should be updating the information in there and adding information like email addresses. At the end of the project it contains a lot of value for you. Do you retain it? Will your telemarketing partner sign a non-disclosure agreement committing them to only using that data for your project and giving it to you at
9. Is There A Structure To Your Project ? Once you’ve signed an order form with your telemarketing partner, what happens next? Is there a structured process that kicks in that ensures an orderly flow of activity? Does it clearly and crisply cover the steps such as these:Training for the telemarketers Preparation for the project including prospect data Project reporting Communication between you and your telemarketer(s) The process of making the calls and using the systems Problem escalation Project reviews Does that process involve you and if so, where and how? Use your judgement to assess if that process will meet your needs and deliver the results you require. 10. How Long Are You ‘Locked’ In ? How much telemarketing are you being asked to commit to? If your Telemarketing partner has to ‘win’ your business on a regular basis, it will help keep them on their toes. If you are locked in for a long period of time, it may be a different matter.
Copyright t4 Marketing Ltd. 2007