Tag Archives: Marketing Articles

Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices: Part 3



By Angela Garfinkel

In Part 1 of “Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices,” we discussed how to maximize the appointment kept rate when conducting telemarketing appointment setting. In addition, we introduced the six primary components of a successful telemarketing appointment setting program.

In Part 2, we discussed how to write an effective script that delivers a powerful nutshell message with a clear WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?).

All outbound telemarketing appointment setting professionals know that the third key component of success is the list you’re calling. In Part 3 of this series on telemarketing appointment setting, I’ll share my experience with curating the best outbound call list. Because my primary list purchase experience is in B2B appointment setting, I’ll focus there.

Because NAICS is more specific than SIC codes, we prefer to purchase outbound telemarketing call lists using NAICS. Click To Tweet

What Makes a Good List?

How do you identify what list to purchase? If you already have existing customers for your product or service, start by identifying what characteristics make up your best ones. Pinpointing your best customers and their similar characteristics become your criteria for purchasing prospect data from which to make outbound telemarketing appointment setting calls.

In the US there are about fifteen million businesses. There are many different list companies that will sell you business data, but knowing which segment(s) of the fifteen million businesses you should target is critical.

Here are some common B2B list selection variables:

• SIC (Standard Industrial Classification)
• NAICS (North American Industry Classification System)
• Revenues
• Number of employees
• Geography, typically by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
• Type of location (single, headquarters, branch)
• Credit rating
• Holding status (private, public)

Because NAICS is more specific than SIC codes, we prefer to purchase outbound telemarketing call lists using NAICS. This allows us to narrow the list to ensure we aren’t purchasing data that isn’t applicable for a client. For example, a travel solutions client is looking for businesses that have employees who travel. One of our good segments is construction. The NAICS code for construction starts with 23. We know that purchasing all available data with a NAICS code that starts with 23 is a waste of money. By narrowing it down to the type of construction, we can get better results. Single family home construction companies (NAICS 236115) don’t tend to have employees who travel. Specialized large project construction companies (such as NAICS 236210) tend to have employees who do travel. They go where the work is because large projects often aren’t in the geographic region where the construction company is located. This is just one example.

Create a Model, Validate, and Test

Once you’ve identified your best customers, purchased a list of more prospects that have the same characteristics as your best customers (called a look-alike model), then start placing calls. As you get call result data (disposition data) from the outbound B2B telemarketing appointment setting campaign, feed the results back to your data scientists to validate the model. Then tweak the model based on real performance.

Expertise Is Invaluable

Depending on the size of your company, it may even make sense to hire a list analyst to work full-time on developing your prospecting list. The alternative is relying on account reps from the list companies you purchase from. Their experience can be varied, and their ambition of selling you a larger list doesn’t necessarily align with your objective of buying just enough of the right list to achieve your goals.

If you could increase your telemarketing appointment set percentage by even a small amount, what would that be worth to you? List acquisition is a specialized field, and the options are varied. As a rule of thumb, we like to purchase data from compiled resources such as D&B, InfoUSA, and Accudata. Knowing who you want to target with your calling effort, knowing the results of the calls, and tracking performance by list segment will help drive smarter list acquisition efforts.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions (https://qualitycontactsolutions.com), a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization serving the healthcare, financial services, automotive, market research, professional associations, and other B2B focused verticals. Angela leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. She is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Contact Angela at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.

Marketing and Sales Integration: Optimizing Your Business



By Adam Mergist

With the rise of the internet and streamlined conversion paths provided by megabrands such as Amazon, consumers expect more from every company they interact with. These higher expectations start at the very first communication—whether that interaction is via email, phone, or some other channel. According to Forbes contributor Stan Phelps, “76 percent of customers expect organizations to understand their individual needs,” while 81 percent demand “improved response time,” and 68 percent “anticipate organizations will harmonize consumer experiences.”

Those are high expectations for every part of the customer journey, from marketing to customer service. Such a demand poses an important question: How do companies meet such lofty expectations on a consistent basis?

The best place to start is with corporate integration. Here are four reasons you should take your company to the next level by integrating your sales and marketing data.

Better Cater to Consumers

The most dominant company in the world, Amazon, has set the customer service bar higher for every company. As an accounting of Amazon’s success, founder Jeff Bezos says, “We’re not competitor obsessed; we’re customer obsessed. We start with the customer, and we work backwards.” That’s an easy thing for the world’s richest person to say; what’s harder is backing it up. To follow through on Bezos’ big words, Amazon works to learn what a consumer wants before even the consumer knows for sure.

To get on Amazon’s level, you, too, need to anticipate your consumers’ needs. The best way to do that is to learn as much about them as possible. Integrating your sales and marketing data is the first step in gathering the customer knowledge you need.

A marketing team’s goal is to attract potential customers while retaining existing ones. Through a variety of marketing tactics, marketing teams gain information and learn about their customers. A sales team hopes to take those intrigued customers and begin a dialogue that will convert them to paying consumers. During this process they also gain insights and information about their customer base.

Each group, through their work, has an opportunity to learn about their customers’ buying habits from different perspectives. Compiling this valuable customer information from a sales perspective helps marketing teams—and vice versa. And the numbers back it up; according to MarketingProfs, “Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing had 36 percent higher customer retention rates and achieved 38 percent higher sales win rates than their competitors.”

Only 37 percent of companies characterize their marketing approach as “somewhat advanced". Click To Tweet

Reduce Marketing Spending

Sharing consumer information between sales and marketing teams is step one in improving your overall sales. To take your sales and marketing data to the next level, pool it and turn it into advanced analytics. Too many companies think the answer to improved sales is upping their marketing budget. Smart companies take the information they already have and put it to better use.

That’s no pipe dream either. According to a McKinsey review of over four hundred organizations of different types and locations, “An integrated analytics approach can free up some 15 to 20 percent of marketing spending. Worldwide, that equates to as much as 200 billion dollars that can be reinvested by companies or drop straight to the bottom line.” The key to creating an effective advanced analytics model is having the right mix of marketing and sales data.

Improve Communication

In most organizations, the marketing department oversees generating leads before passing them on to sales to seal the deal. Other approaches, such as account-based marketing, focus on removing silos for better communication and an improved customer experience.

Instead of two silos of people working independently to make a sale to a single consumer, sales and marketing teams get together, share their data, and create a marketing campaign based on that collaboration. This helps both teams stay on message and most importantly, on the same page. Increasingly B2B companies are taking this approach but it is still vastly underutilized. If you want to pull ahead of your competition, try this tactic.

Get Ahead of the Curve

Despite the effectiveness of the varied approaches we have laid out thus far, many organizations have yet to take the data-sharing plunge. Data sharing and data strategy are the future of marketing and sales. According to Radius and Harvard Business Review, “Sixty-three percent of B2B marketers say data and analytics will be very influential on marketing activities within the next two years.”

Despite the overwhelming proof of the efficacy of this type of integration, only 37 percent of companies characterize their marketing approach as “somewhat advanced.” The trend of advanced strategic marketing is only becoming more prevalent as companies see the numerous benefits. If you start integrating now, you can get ahead of the curve.

Consumers continue to expect more from organizations, and businesses must make changes to meet those expectations. Organizations must learn about their customers and anticipate their needs. The companies that make the customer journey as enjoyable, intuitive, and efficient as possible will be the most successful. Integrating the data from your sales and marketing teams is the best way to reach that goal.

Adam Mergist is a chief operating officer and president of Home Services at Clearlink, an award-winning digital marketing, sales, and technology company and a trusted partner for Fortune 500 companies since 2003.

Are You Building Trust with Your Website?


nCall, telephone answering service software from nSolve

By Sean Wright

You likely believe that your business offers something different or something unique—why else would you be in business? But how well does your website reflect this?

The most common reason a visitor to your website doesn’t contact you is trust: they don’t trust that what you’re offering will meet their demands. So how do you improve your website’s ability to build trust?

Honesty

Being transparent about what you can and cannot do goes a long way to endear yourself to a prospective customer. Play to your strengths, and don’t shy away from your weak spots.

We’ve all had customers we took on knowing full well that our services didn’t quite match their requirements. It usually ends up being more work than we expected, resulting in a net loss for everyone involved.

Being honest about your service and having pride in your attributes will attract the right kind of customer. Oh, and ditch “we provide excellent customer service” and replace it with something that has impact and charm.

Focus on What You’re Best At

Being honest about your service and having pride in your attributes will attract the right kind of customer. Click To Tweet

There are merits to SEO optimization and online advertising, but attracting a website visitor doesn’t equal a new client. Capturing their attention and providing the right answers as quickly as possible will secure their interest. Your sales team can do the rest.

It’s important to avoid attempting to be everything to everyone. Many contact centers fall victim to the “we offer everything under the sun” slogan. Kudos to you if your business can offer the full works, but in most cases, it simply isn’t true.

Look closely at your best, most reliable clients. What is it about you that has kept them loyal for so long? If it is the personal touch you offer with every interaction, then why is this not highlighted on your website?

Show Some Personality

The final thing to look for when scrutinizing your website is personality. Gone are the days of stiff corporate personas and menu-heavy websites. People want to work with people, not machines.

Ensure that your site has some character. Add a backstory or timeline to show how your business arrived at this point. Profile your staff and show their faces. Videos and pictures are great ways to lighten the tone.

Get rid of the technical jargon. It’s likely your potential clients don’t know your industry’s lingo and will be put off by anything they don’t understand. Put your offer in clear and concise terms.

Conclusion

You can read thousands of articles citing the best way to capture leads through your website, but the simple answer is to build trust and show your business’ true colors.

nSolve

Sean Wright is the sales and marketing manager at nSolve Ltd, experienced developers of TAS software.

Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices: Part 2



By Angela Garfinkel

In Part 1 of “Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices,” we discussed how to maximize the appointment-kept rate when conducting telemarketing appointment setting. In addition, we introduced the six primary components of a successful telemarketing appointment setting program:

  1. A targeted contact list with phone numbers
  2. A friendly, open phone voice
  3. A nutshell message
  4. A reason for the prospect to schedule the appointment with you—WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)
  5. A timely calendar invite sent via email with a summary of what will be discussed in the appointment
  6. Productive outbound dialing (about thirty-five dials per hour, 262 dials per day from a B2B telemarketing appointment setting program)

There is no doubt that having a powerful nutshell message delivered with a friendly, open phone voice helps ensure that your telemarketing appointment setting program is successful. Here is how to make this a reality.

Five Requirements for an Effective Script

There’s a fine line between selling an appointment and diving too deep into selling the product or service that you’re setting the appointment to discuss. A successful telemarketing appointment setting program provides just enough information to peak the prospect’s interest without putting the telemarketing agent in a position where they have so much information that they’re tempted to go too deep in the appointment setting call.

Telemarketing appointment setting scripts have five primary sections:

1. Who can the telemarketing agent speak to? Define this clearly. Setting an appointment with the wrong title or with a non-decision-maker doesn’t make sense.

2. Nutshell message. Who is your company and what problem does your company/product/service solve? Why is your solution better than the competition?

3. Ask for the appointment, and keep the appointment date within the next five business days. One good technique is to provide the “option close”: “Does Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. or Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. work better for you? We’ll need twenty to thirty minutes of your time.”

4. Close the conversation with an affirmation of what the prospect will learn during the appointment and how, even if your product or solution isn’t a good fit, it won’t be a waste of their time. Let the prospect know that you’re sending a calendar invite and they should accept the invite right away, so you can block off the sales exec’s calendar for the appointment.

5. “Not Interested” rebuttal. Be prepared to restate why the solution you are presenting is unique. Try to trigger curiosity for accepting an appointment with your company. Don’t restate the same information from your initial pitch. Instead give them some additional, compelling information and ask them again for an appointment. Possibly give them an option for a shorter appointment so there is a lower threshold for the required time investment during the first appointment.

Don’t restate the same information from your initial pitch. Instead give them some additional, compelling information and ask them again for an appointment. Click To Tweet

In the next article on this topic, I’ll share best practices for finding a good prospect list.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization serving the healthcare, financial services, automotive, market research, professional associations, and other B2B focused verticals. Angela leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. She is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Contact Angela at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.comor 516-656-5118.

Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices—Part 1



By Angela Garfinkel

Telemarketing appointment setting is a cost-effective way to use less expensive people resources to set appointments for your salespeople. The best telemarketing appointment setting initiatives have these things in common:

  • A targeted contact list with phone numbers
  • A friendly, open phone voice
  • A nutshell message
  • A reason for the prospect to schedule the appointment with you: WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
  • A timely calendar invite sent via email with a very brief summary of what the appointment will cover
  • Productive outbound dialing—ideally about thirty-five dials per hour, 262 dials per day from a B2B telemarketing appointment setting program

If any of these core components aren’t optimized, then your telemarketing appointment setting program won’t produce the highest possible return on investment (ROI).

Telemarketing appointment setting requires tenacity and creativity. The tenacity is having the willpower to make hundreds of phone calls a day, resulting in a handful of appointments. The creativity is identifying what works and what isn’t working to come up with the best approach to secure more appointments that are kept. Some people agree to appointments because they don’t like conflict or don’t like saying no. Click To Tweet

In this first article in a three-part series, I’ll cover the concept of appointment kept rate and what you can do to ensure the highest appointment kept rate possible.

What Is the Appointment Kept Rate?

The appointment kept rate is the percentage of appointments that are kept (not cancelled or no-showed) by your prospect divided by the total number of appointments set for the period you’re measuring. For example, if your outbound telemarketing appointment setting team set five hundred appointments last month and three hundred appointments were kept (including those that were rescheduled), your appointment kept rate is 60 percent. That’s a pretty good rate.

As an outsourced telemarketing appointment setting resource, our company works with many clients in many different industries, and we find that the methodology of getting a high appointment kept percent is relatively simple.

The first critical component for a high appointment kept rate is making sure the prospect is told clearly WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Some people agree to appointments because they don’t like conflict or don’t like saying no. So they agree to the appointment but don’t honor their commitment because it is easier to say yes and then not show up. Make sure that you reinforce with your appointment confirmation (wrap-up) verbiage what your prospect will gain by attending the appointment. If you can’t put that in one or two sentences, you need to work on creating an effective nutshell message.

Next, be sure you send a calendar invite immediately following the telemarketing call to lock in the appointment time on your prospect’s calendar. It’s best if you can get access to the salespeople’s calendars and set the appointments on their calendar on their behalf, inviting them to the appointment. In the calendar invite, include the nutshell language in the appointment notes or comments to reinforce why it’s worth them keeping the appointment.

Another nice touch is to send an email from the appointment setter to the prospect (copying the salesperson for whom the appointment is set). Thank them for their time, let them know that they should have received a calendar invite, and ask them to please accept the appointment to lock in the time.

If you set appointments too far in advance, expect a high rate of no-shows or reschedules. As a rule of thumb, we limit our outbound telemarketing appointment setters to set appointments no more than one week from the date of the call. If the prospect insists they can’t do an appointment sooner, then set a callback to set the appointment; don’t set the appointment and hope for the best.

In the next two articles on this topic, I’ll share best practices for finding a good prospect list and best practices for writing an appointment setting script.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization serving the healthcare, financial services, automotive, market research, professional associations, and other B2B focused verticals. Angela leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. She is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Contact Angela at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.

The Failure of New Customer Discounts



Companies Focus on New Customer Acquisition and Then Encourage Customers to Leave in Two Years

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

My family just completed our biennial cell phone switch. We’ve been doing this like clockwork for two decades. We pick the company that offers the best price and switch to that one. Two years later our rates jump, and no amount of pleading results in a package we can accept. So we switch carriers.

Of course, the same thing happens with our internet service provider and our cable TV/satellite provider. They also entice us with low introductory rates and then methodically jack up our bill every chance they get. We’re on a two-year cycle with them too.

Loyalty Goes Both Ways

new customer

I’d prefer to find a vendor I can stick with and not change every two years. All they need to do to earn my loyalty is to offer fair prices. But they don’t. They give sweet deals to new customers as they gouge their current ones. They apparently value new business more than existing business. Don’t they know it costs several times more to gain new customers than to simply keep the ones they have? They should, but their actions don’t show it.

They prove their disloyalty to me with their unfair pricing. This causes me to be disloyal to them, and I have no regret about leaving them for a better deal. They’ve trained me to act this way.

The Burden on Customer Service Staff

Each time we switch a provider, we make multiple calls and even visits to each potential vendor, gathering information and looking for potential shortfalls in their service package. Of course, we foolishly start with our existing provider, but they’re not interested in keeping our business—at least not yet.

As we proceed, we take time with our existing provider and then all their competitors, including the one we eventually select. Our existing provider spends time with us to lose our business. Our new provider spends a couple of hours to close the deal and transfer our account. That’s a huge investment of time to obtain an account they won’t keep. In addition, all the other providers waste time with a prospect they won’t land.

The Impact on Customers

As customers, we spend a lot of time analyzing our options. Then we expend more time switching providers. But the biggest investment of our time is programming and learning our new technology, be it our phones, video entertainment, or internet access. Maybe someday I will gladly accept my bill doubling to avoid the agony of switching. Or maybe not.It costs several times more to gain new customers than to simply keep the ones you have. Click To Tweet

Churning Customers Is a Futile Business Model

If companies worked harder to keep the customers they have, there wouldn’t be so much pressure to gain new ones. They wouldn’t have to offer their new-customer incentives, which are likely at or below cost. They wouldn’t have to spend as much money on marketing. And their sales and customer service people could avoid a lot a of needless effort that produces no results.

Too Late to Make a Difference

Most of the time, once we switch providers, our former provider then makes a last-ditch effort to “win back” our business. But they’re too late. We’ve just gone through the agony of considering our options and doing a thorough spreadsheet analysis. We’ve gone through the pain of switching. We have shiny new equipment, which looks promising—once we learn how to use it. And now they think they can keep our business? No way. The only way we’ll do business with them is in two, four, or six years as we go through another cycle of selecting a new provider.

Though these service providers will persist in their insane cycle of customer acquisition and churn, your company doesn’t have to. Make sure you don’t follow their foolish example.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Why Telemarketing Programs Fail, Part 5



By Kathy Sisk

This is the final segment of “Why Telemarketing Programs Fail.” Our wrap-up looks at script branching, the agent learning curve, supportive communication, and appropriate follow-up.

Script Branching

Branching allows agents to take other avenues to meet the same objective, which is to close the sale, make an appointment, or generate a lead. Branching is always preplanned and allows agents to go off script and be creative. The outcome is the same, but the process is different.

Agents need to understand the process of branching, which is covered in basic training. Branching allows agents to use their skills and techniques to guide the call using a more personalized approach.

This challenging process, however, takes practice for agents to perfect. Being able to branch is what differentiates one agent from another as far as productivity; it’s why one agent may have an 80 percent conversion rate while another has only a 20 percent conversion rate.Providing agent feedback is key. for succesful telemarketing programs. Click To Tweet

Agent Learning Curve

Often either the client or the center doesn’t allow enough time for the learning curve to develop so the call success rate can improve. With every campaign, there must be ramp-up time for agents to gain confidence with the project. Too often the client or call center management expects immediate results. Then the client will prematurely terminate the campaign, or the project management team gives up before the agents can perfect their work.

Allow time for adjustments and script enhancements. It’s ideal to let agents tell you how they think you can improve the program. Often agent feedback is key.

Supportive Communication

Establish clear communication between agents, supervisors, and the client regarding successful or unsuccessful calls. Always take time to review the campaign results and consider necessary changes.

Appropriate Follow-Up

Interaction between management, agents, the project manager, and the client is essential, particularly when information is given regarding the progress of the campaign. Open communications between agents and managers is vital in reaching a more successful outcome.

To help ensure that your telemarketing campaigns succeed, consider these four pitfalls and work to avoid them. Also review the items in the first four parts of this series to produce better results faster.

Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. has forty years of experience providing call center setup, reengineering, assessments, training, script development, and project management services to centers globally.

Why Telemarketing Programs Fail, Part 4



By Kathy Sisk

In the last issue we discussed properly assessing and preparing agents for training before the start of your campaign. Now we’ll look at what happens during the calling period.

A Challenging Task

When it comes to outbound campaigns, it isn’t realistic to think the prospect is waiting by their phone in anticipation of your call. On the contrary, the prospect may have already been inundated with calls like yours, in the middle of doing something more important, or they aren’t available.

Additionally, they may not have an interest in what you’re calling about. If you get any negative response early in your presentation, the method of handling it is critical. One of the most challenging parts of an outbound call is handling a premature “I’m not interested.”

The Easy Close

Using the “easy close” technique will help you through this challenge and allow you to continue with your presentation or keep the door open for future contact.

Here’s a typical easy close to the I’m-not-interested brush-off: “I respect that. If I could provide you with information that could save you on your insurance policy, how open are you to receive more information about this?”

The idea is to get the prospect to say “yes”; this turns a negative into a positive. This approach allows you to move on to the next portion of the easy close, which is to qualify their interest by saying, “To make sure that you can benefit, I need to verify some information, if you don’t mind.” This final portion of the easy close gets another positive response that helps you go to the next step of your presentation, the probing step.Preparation is a vital key to overcoming potential obstacles. Click To Tweet

When the campaign is carefully planned, and you incorporate what you learned in your training, you will gain greater confidence in handling calls and experience more positive outcomes. Preparation is a vital key to overcoming potential obstacles.

In the next issue we’ll tie everything together for a cohesive, well-thought-out outsourcing campaign.

Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. has forty years of experience providing call center setup, reengineering, assessments, training, script development, and project management services to centers globally.

20 Essential Questions for B2B Lead Qualification



By Giuseppe D’Angelo

Are you frustrated when your salespeople squander your hard-earned leads? If so, you’re not alone. Reps ignore 80 percent of the leads marketing generates.

If you don’t want to waste time and money generating leads that reps push aside, ensure that those leads are so well-qualified your reps can’t wait to pursue them. Of course, this is easier said than done.

What do salespeople want? You’ve heard it before—leads that have the budget, the authority to buy, a need to solve a problem, a time frame to get it done, and are a good fit for your solution. It’s known as BANTS. While it’s a simple list of requirements, determining who meets them is not easy unless you’re armed with the right questions. Use the following as your guide.

Need: Find the Pain

Just because the acronym is BANTS, it doesn’t mean you should start with questions about the budget. First you want to uncover the individual’s pain and learn how you can help with an opportunity.

Ask these questions:

  • What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
  • How do you deal with them today?
  • What are the consequences of not dealing with these issues?
  • How do you see your business changing over the next one or two years?

These questions reveal much about the individual’s situation and their daily frustrations. They can also broaden your understanding of how your solution could help.

Solution: Is There a Fit?

To learn more about whether you might be able to offer an ideal answer to the problem, ask:

  • Ideally, what would you be able to achieve with the right solution?
  • What is your “must have” or “nice to have” solution?
  • What solutions are you currently using?

You can then ask follow-up questions related to the specifics of your product or solution. For instance, you might want to ask how critical specific benefits are to the prospect and whether they can achieve these benefits with their current product or with a competitive offering they are considering.If your reps aren’t jumping to follow up on your leads, review your current lead qualification questions and add in those you’re missing. Click To Tweet

Budget: Show Me the Money

It’s frustrating for a salesperson to waste time pursuing a lead that will never come to fruition because the budget isn’t there and never will be. These questions can prevent that from happening.

  • How much is this problem costing your organization? Rather than starting by asking a prospect whether they have a budget for a project, set the framework by discussing how much the problem is costing them. For instance, if you have a solution that prevents computer system downtime, ask how much downtime costs their company.
  • Do you have a budget for this project? This is an easy question with a “yes” or “no” answer. If, however, you receive a “no,” you shouldn’t immediately disqualify the lead. It doesn’t mean the organization won’t come up with a budget in the future, just that it’s early in their buying cycle. If the prospect gives you a negative response, follow up with the next question.
  • Given that this problem is costing you $X a year, how much could you see investing in solving it? If they provide an answer that’s reasonable given your company’s solution, that’s good. However, because the prospect may not know how much solutions cost, they may not be able to provide an answer. If so, you’ll need to give them some cost parameters.
  • Our solution to this problem could run anywhere from $X to $Y. Would you be likely to invest that amount in it? With this extra piece of information, your prospect may feel comfortable letting you know the upper limit of what they might invest, or they might give you a budget range.
  • Who oversees the budget? It’s good to find out who is in control of the budget and whether you’ll need to convince other members of the buying team.

Authority: Who’s the Decision-Maker?

You want to find out who has the authority to buy. If the person you’re talking with has a low level of clout in the company, it doesn’t mean you’ve reached a dead end. They can help you map out the buying influencers and decision-makers within the organization. Once you know who is on the buying team, you can reach out to them.

  • How will your organization evaluate a solution to this issue? This question is intentionally broad to elicit as much information as possible about the decision-making process. Ideally, you’ll learn who the stakeholders are, what their roles are, and who has the authority to make decisions. If your contact is less forthcoming, you may have to ask some more pointed questions.
  • Who else in your company does this problem affect, and what are their roles in determining a solution? You’re starting to piece together the buying team, but you want insights straight from the individuals involved. Request permission to talk to these individuals.
  • Would it make sense for me to call (name of buying team member) to gain their perspective? The more people on the team you can talk with, the less likely it is that a last-minute objection could derail the sale.
  • Who signs off on the final decision? Don’t forget to ask this question if the prospect has not answered it in response to the previous inquiries.

Timeframe: How Urgent Is It?

Every businessperson faces many problems, only a few of which can bubble to the top of the to-do list. So ask a couple of questions to establish the level of urgency to act.

  • Ideally, when would you like to solve this problem?
  • Regarding priorities, where does solving this problem fit?

Next Steps: How Interested Are They Learning About Your Solution?

The following questions are essential in gauging a prospect’s interest in investing more time in learning about your solution. This also helps you move to the next phase of the sales process.

  • What are the steps we would need to take to make this deal happen?
  • When is the best date and time to schedule our next call or set up a meeting?

Qualifying leads is an essential ingredient in an effective, efficient sales process. If your reps aren’t jumping to follow up on your leads, review your current lead qualification questions and add in those you’re missing. By doing so, you’ll ensure that all leads qualified for your sales team meet the budget, authority, need, timing, and solution-fit criteria. Then all your salespeople will need to do is what they do best: close the deal.

Giuseppe D’Angelo graduated from I.T.I.S. Euclide with a degree in information technology. In 2003 he joined 3D2B and has become a senior project manager for the Italian and Spanish markets, responsible for generating leads and revenues.

How to Stay Positive in the Telemarketing Services Industry



By Angela Garfinkel

No. Not interested. Thanks for your call, but no. No.

You get the point. Working in outbound telemarketing sales can be a difficult job. Working in telemarketing management is also hard, but at least we aren’t the ones who are told no every five to seven minutes throughout an eight-hour day. Most telemarketing programs average one sale every four to five hours. Some really great programs get one sale every two to three hours. The very best programs get one sale for every hour of calling. In an eight-hour day, that’s about one hundred noes and, at best, a handful of yeses.

Remaining upbeat and positive is a challenge, but the key is knowing that what you’re selling is worth the effort. We call it “worthwhile work.” It’s important to carefully evaluate each client program to ensure that it meets the minimum standard of being worthwhile work. If I go to Thanksgiving dinner and tell my grandma what project I’m working on, will I be proud of it? If the answer is “not really,” then we’ll choose to not work on it. Click To Tweet

Here Are Some Criteria I Consider:

  • Would our team enjoy working with this client? Would our management team get along with them and find there is a true partnership? Obviously, it takes a while to build a relationship, but within an initial conversation, I can normally tell if there is a seed of potential for our team to enjoy working with a client.
  • Is the potential client a reputable company? I check the Better Business Bureau. I look at their website. I read press releases and other news about the company. If I can’t find anything that validates them as a reputable company, that isn’t necessarily a negative, but then I do my own assessment by asking some detailed questions about the company and how they approach their market.
  • Is the product or service something the target market needs? This can be difficult to assess, but you can normally ask some questions that will give you insight to the need in the market. One key question is asking them how many products they’ve sold so far. If it’s zero, that could be a real challenge.
  • Is the product or service something that can be sold over the phone? Has the client already tested telemarketing? Was it successful? If not, look at the potential for success with scrutiny.
  • Is it a program our team will be successful with? That’s hard to quantify, but with thirty years of experience, I’m pretty good at identifying if our team will do well with a client program or not.
  • Is it something a consumer or business may ultimately view as a rip-off or scam? Obviously if the answer is yes, then we carefully walk away from the potential opportunity.

Based on these answers, I’ve found that it is critical to carefully consider whether the program will be viewed by our team as worthwhile work. In the simplest of terms, I explain it this way: If I go to Thanksgiving dinner and tell my grandma what project I’m working on, will I be proud of it? If the answer is “not really,” then we’ll choose to not work on it.

Here Are Some Programs My Team Considers Worthwhile Work:

  • Calling physician offices and hospitals to sell them billing and coding resources.
  • Calling existing utility customers to offer a warranty and appliance repair program from the utility.
  • Calling small business owners to ask if they’re interested in learning more about 401(k) benefits for their employees.
  • Calling existing customers of auto dealerships to schedule service appointments and conduct after-service surveys.
  • Calling small and medium businesses to sell them regulatory and compliance resources to help them navigate complex regulatory requirements in their industry.
  • Calling small businesses to ask them to listen to the radio for a chance to win a prize.

And while I won’t mention the brand names represented in these worthwhile calls, they are household names our employees love to work for.

So here’s my theory: when you’re conducting worthwhile work for well-known, respected brand names, you can take pride in what you do and know that it matters. This makes it easier to stay positive and let those noes roll off your back. There’s an old chant we used years ago that I still think is relevant and a great way to put the noes into perspective: “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Who’s next?”

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. Angela has the pleasure of leading a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours each day. Angela is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Angela can be reached at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.