Not everyone will want to do this, but most people can with a little practice and confidence. You know it’s done every day, because you probably get called regularly with one offer after another. But let’s face it: If it didn’t work, no one would be doing it. There are different reasons to call customers and prospects, and each one has its own personality. Some good reasons for using outbound telemarketing are:
- To make an immediate sale
- To explain a limited-time offer
- To get a buyer’s name
- To qualify a prospect
- To set up a personal appointment
- To follow up on an order or service
- To update a mailing list
- To follow up on direct mail
- To send product literature
- To direct the customer to your website
- To ask customers for referrals
- To up-sell a current order
- To see whether a customer is satisfied
If you’re trying to make an immediate sale or offer, you need to stress urgency and call for action now. Offer some incentive to order today, such as free shipping, an upgrade, or a gift of some type. Most of these calls will be to sell smaller or medium-size products, and if you don’t sell them on the first call, it’s probably over.
If you’re calling to set an appointment with a business or an athome buyer, your main goal is to get the day and time confirmed so there will be no surprises later. Mention the date and time again just before you hang up: “I’ll see you Thursday at 3 p.m.” If you’re calling to follow up on a medium or large purchase, such as a car, a house, a stereo, or furniture, you can suggest add-ons, extended warranties, or service agreements. If the person is happy with his original purchase, add-on sales are much easier. If there’s a problem with the customer’s purchase, do everything you can to
rectify it. After the problem is solved, you can go back to the original purpose of your call.
In our plastic membership-card business, we sell cards to a lot of associations, museums, and credit unions, so we call and ask for the membership department right away. When we reach the membership department, we quickly explain that we supply all types of membership cards and would like to send a free folder with samples and ideas. We tell them we’d like to know the name of the person who makes those decisions so that we can mail the folder directly to his or her attention. We always get it in First Class mail the same day. We follow up about a week later and now know the person to ask for when calling back. Our success rate for getting the correct name for the free information on the first call is more than 70 percent.
If you’re planning to do an expensive mailing of catalogs or literature, you can call to verify an address, confirm the decision maker’s name, and let him or her know what to expect in the mail shortly. The price of the call will be less than the wasted postage if you have an incorrect name or address. If you’re calling after a mailing, ask whether the person needs additional information or more samples or if he has any questions and is interested in placing an order. If the person is planning to order, you can offer to take the order now and mention reasons for not waiting, such as short supply, quick delivery time, or a possible future price increase. If the person is not interested, you can ask a few questions to see whether he is really a prospect or should be taken off your mailing list. Or you can just try again at a future time.
A small business has to watch expenses, so don’t mail to someone who is not a bona fide prospect. If it sounds as if a customer is almost ready to order when you talk to him, you can mail information Priority Mail or Next Day Air if the size of the possible order is worth the additional expense.