By Kathy Sisk
For many years companies have concentrated their telemarketing efforts by conducting a one-call close. Today, due to the inundation of telemarketing calls, not only is it necessary to approach prospects differently, it is equally important to slow the selling process down by conducting a two-call close. You don’t always have to close your prospect on the first contact. The following are a couple of ways in which you can accomplish this; however, you need to decide which method is going to maximize your prospecting efforts in the most cost-effective way. Each company may choose differently depending on its objectives and budget.
Direct Mail: For many years the primary way many companies did a two-call close has been by direct mail. Usually this is accomplished by sending an inexpensive mail piece to a particular targeted market. This may get some attention, but in reality, depending upon your mail piece and who your target market is, you may average only a half of a percent response. It could as high as 3 percent or even 10, depending on where, to whom, and what you are mailing. The question is, how many pieces of literature do you need to mail to give you a profitable return on your investment? In the thousands! When you consider the up-front costs and then factor in the rate of return, is this the way in which you want to expand your market share?
One way to ensure a higher level of response is to follow up within a few days after your prospect has received your information. You can expect to encounter some level of resistance from your prospects, such as “I don’t remember receiving your information; why don’t you send it again,” or “I threw that in the trash with all my other junk mail.” Does this sound familiar? How much money was lost in your brochures, your time, and mailing costs?
Also, be careful not to send too many brochures out at one time. If you don’t follow up within a few days of your prospects’ receiving the information, they will simply have put it out of their mind. Your effort, along with the financial investment, will have been wasted.
I’m not suggesting that you never conduct a direct-mail campaign. On the contrary, direct mail can be extremely profitable, providing you are targeting your primary market and prepared to send out a substantial amount of information at one time. The benefits to you include a bulk mail rate discount and the 10 percent of captivated prospects that will call you who are in the market for your services. Should you decide to conduct a direct-mail campaign, be sure to have enough incoming phone lines and the appropriate staffing of customer service representatives (CSRs) to support it.
Market Research: A more cost-effective and profitable way of accomplishing a two-call close is to use a market research approach. This can increase your closing percentages as much as 80 percent. The concept is to first contact your prospect, establish rapport, qualify them, determine their needs, and create the corresponding need for your products and services. Once you have completed this probing process, you can conclude your presentation by promising to send your information with permission to conduct a follow-up call after the prospect has had the opportunity to review it.
This is a slower process, and you don’t necessarily have to conduct a market research. The idea is to purposely slow the selling process down so you spend more time planning your pre-call objectives before conducting your follow-up call. Also, sending your information after you have spoken with your prospect serves to lay down the “red carpet” prior to your selling steps. You are building a stronger foundation for when you make your sales call. Not only will this increase your selling opportunities, your prospect will be impressed with your attitude toward customer care. You will project that you’re someone who cares more about going the extra mile to serve them as opposed to merely trying to close the sale. The two-call close will serve to further set you apart from your competition.
Those who are not selling but instead generating appointments for field sales representatives can use this same approach. However, instead of stopping at the end of the probing process, you continue with your presentation in attempt to sell the need for an appointment.
In certain selling environments, the average closing percentage is much higher when conducting a two-call close than with a one-call close. The only drawback is waiting a few extra days to get your prospect’s commitment. This can be to your advantage, since it can take up to five contacts before you can convert a prospect into a customer. If you limit your contact to each prospect to only one call, you increase the percentages of closing the door permanently and losing the sale altogether.
The first five steps of the Twelve Steps to Successful Telemarketing – for which we have now laid the groundwork – are designed to conduct a two-call close or generate quality leads. Try and follow the steps precisely the way they are written and only ad-lib or be creative with the ideas once you have internalized the process. Keep in mind that there are certain areas within the steps where there is no flexibility.
Try to consider a scripted presentation in two ways. One, think of it as a road map. If you have never driven someplace before, you need a road map. You would probably refer to this road map many times until you finally learned the way. Once you have learned the way, you may still keep the map nearby just in case you get lost.
Second, your scripted presentation is like a recipe. You need to follow the basis of the recipe verbatim, especially in certain areas, since you don’t want to change the texture or the flavor too much. Otherwise, your dish will not turn out the way it was intended.
We’ll be covering Step One of our recipe, the introduction, in the next issue.
Kathy Sisk is president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2011]