In the same way I rubberneck while passing car wrecks, I'm strangely fascinated with horrible telemarketing calls. Sometimes I empathize with the caller. We're both in sales, right? Not wanting to be rude, I let them plow through their opening lines. The calls all sound something like this:
The shotgun approach. They call everybody with a phone number. Everyone gets the same pitch.
How could a telemarketer revise her approach to actually sell me something?
Find out information about me before calling. Am I really a potential customer for what you're offering? Doing even a little pre-call research separates you from the majority of cold callers.
Go off script and have a meaningful dialogue with me. I will often speak with and give information to a person who I'm conversing with. When a person is working from a script, it's like listening to a boring soliloquy. Instead of engaging, my focus is 100% on how to quickly end the call without providing any information that could be misconstrued as “yes, I'm interested.
Give me a good reason to listen. If you don't know anything about me, it's doubtful that you can provide one.
Pay attention when I tell you why I'm not interested. Telemarketers are trained to blow through your objections come hell or high water. If it's not a fit, move on. This will save you time and make me more apt to speak to future callers.
Be direct about who you are and why you're calling. If you're working for a good company that does good things, there's no need to be vague or misleading about your employer and reason for calling.
Most importantly, how can I avoid making telemarketing calls? The last thing sales professionals want is to be lumped into the category of telemarketer. Let's assume that sales phone calls are rated on a scale of 0-10 based on the prospect's likelihood of taking the call. Zero is a telemarketing call to be avoided at all costs. 10 is zero-cost phone time with a respected industry consultant/guru. When prospects see your number on their caller ID, are they sizing you up as a 0, 5, or 10? Here's how to improve your ranking:
Have a good reason for calling. Don't call just to check in, say hi, or see how someone is doing. Even when calling a regular customer, this type of call is not going to generate a lot of excitement. I occasionally receive calls from vendors that sound like this “Hi , I haven't heard from you in a while, just calling to check in...” The imagery associated with this opening is of someone who is not very busy, wants my business, doesn't have a lot to offer, and wants me to think of something they can sell me.
When speaking to someone for the first time, use your brain to find a connection to lead in with. Do you know someone at the company? Do you work with one of their competitors? If you have no personal connection are you familiar with their products?
Let your prospects know you're thinking about them. “Hi, It's been a while since we last spoke. I saw your name mentioned in ProSales Magazine last month, do you want me to mail you the article?” The imagery here is of someone who is busy but hasn't forgot about you, vested in the industry, and has something to offer with the magazine article.
Present yourself as having something valuable to offer in a specific way (“We're the only widget manufacturer in your state”) rather than subjectively (“We make the best widgets.”).
Let's create a sales phone call that might actually have a shot of going somewhere:
Caller had researched my company before picking up the phone.