Preliminaries to

Effective Telemarketing

by Lucy Blomfield

The Right Business and the Right Buyer

Travelling sales men and women become adept at finding the right businesses for their products. They know the type of store where they have been successful, and can foresee their product selling well in a similar store.

When they enter a prospective business, they can look for an owner, buyer or manager. The person with the authority to buy might even be wearing an identifying name tag.

However, many effective sales people can attest to making errors in evaluating how successful a business might be in selling their product. Many would say, for example, "I never thought a store that looked like this would do so well." Also, perhaps anyone in sales can give instances of brilliantly explaining their product to someone who looked authoritative, only to discover the buyer was not in the store that day!

Selling Without Seeing

The telemarketer has the same challenges as anyone in sales: finding the appropriate business for his product and the buyer of that product. Both road and phone salesmen need to do careful research in screening prospective customers before they begin to sell. However, the telemarketer has none of the visual advantages of the road salesman. He must learn to "see" his prospects by asking questions which give him appropriate information. He must "find" his buyer through asking questions. Sometimes, lack of visual clues can even be an advantage.

Learning to Become Telemarketers

Our company is beginning a telemarketing program. We are working as a telemarketing team, and we are learning together. Our goal is to phone 100 businesses a day, and so send out 20 catalogs and samples to appropriate prospects a day. How do we begin?

We have done our homework and have a list of companies that we feel would use our product. What do we say when someone answers the phone?

The Gatekeeper's Keeper

Perhaps at this point it would be good to think about the person who will answer the phone. It may be a receptionist, it may be the President of the company.

In telemarketing books this person, if they are not the person with the authority to buy, is sometimes referred to as the "gatekeeper." The gatekeeper is the person the telemarketer must get by to get to his buyer - or so the books tell us.

Many of us have had the experience of a conversation with someone, who, we knew, was just trying to get us out of the way, so they could carry on with their REAL purpose in life. It isn't a pleasant experience. The receptionist, secretary or assistant is a busy person who may be handling many incoming calls. Some of these callers may be quite rude. To meet a kind, courteous caller with a clear explanation of purpose is refreshing and pleasant. A caring attitude can be communicated even in a few seconds. Also, this introductory conversation is our first opportunity to present who we are to this business, so it is important.

What Do We Say?

Here is an example of an initiating question for our phone conversation: "My name is ______, from _______ (the name of our business). We sell _____ (the company's product). Is this a product that your company purchases?" It is important to use language as precise and concise as possible. Keep in mind the receptionist is perhaps doing several jobs at once. Less effective would be, "Do you ever have a need for this kind of thing?"

Sometimes, at this point, a further explanation is needed about the product. At other times, the receptionist will say that they do purchase this product. Now the telemarketer must find the right person to buy his product. He might say, "Could you please give me the name of the person who buys that product?" It is important to know the buyer's name. Once that name is known, and the receptionist connects us to that person, the presentation (and the selling!) can begin.

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