Tag Archives: Outbound Articles

How to Write an Outbound Telemarketing Script



By Julie Kramme

So, you’ve decided to use outbound calling as part of your sales and marketing strategy. You’ve acquired a list of prospects to call, and you know what you want the outcome of those calls to be. Now you need to develop a message for your telemarketing staff to effectively convey on your behalf. You need a telemarketing script. But what does that look like?

What Should a Telemarketing Script Include?

For some call center agents, a traditional script that tells your agent what you want to say and how you want them to say it works well—especially for those who are new and still building confidence. The challenge with traditional scripting is that with time and repetition, message delivery can get a bit stale. How can we prevent this? Through training and motivation, of course! But that’s not the only way.

When to Consider Eliminating the Telemarketing Script

The key to ensuring long-term effectiveness of your outbound telemarketing script may be to eliminate the script. Instead of writing paragraphs for agents to read, consider developing an outline or road map that provides directional conversation and key talking points to assist the agent in accomplishing their objective. Doing so allows the agent to insert their personality, use their own words, and build credibility with the prospect.

Using talking points works particularly well with lead generation, sales, and recruitment calls. But in other scenarios, such as market research and survey calls, where it’s important to eliminate personal opinions or bias, a traditional script may be necessary. So be open to both methods. Regardless of which approach you take, include the following components to ensure long-term effectiveness of your outbound telemarketing script.

Eight Components of an Outbound Telemarketing Script

1. Introduction: When making an outbound call, getting your “foot in the door” can be the biggest hurdle. Utilizing an effective call introduction is key. Keep it short: Who are you? Why are you calling? Why should the prospect listen?

2. Transition Statements: Be mindful of your prospect’s time, and be aware that your call interrupted their day. Use transition statements to set expectations and to maintain call control while moving from one phase of the conversation to the next.

3. Discovery: Learning about your prospect’s needs is the key to winning their business. Take a minute to ask them a few simple questions about what they’re doing today, what they like about it, and what they don’t. Use a combination of open- and close-ended questions to ensure qualification and get your prospect talking so you can build rapport.

4. Presentation: When presenting an offer, keep it concise. Clearly outline the key details of your proposal, and don’t forget to apply what you learned during the discovery phase of the conversation. Always tie your prospect’s needs back to a feature that provides benefit to them. Verbalizing these value statements is the key to generating interest and buy-in.

5. Assumptive Close: Be confident in your offering. If you’re setting an appointment, go ahead and ask what time of day works best for your prospect. If you’re selling a paid service, ask what method of payment they’d like to use to complete their order today. Until the prospect gives you a reason to believe they’re not interested, always assume a positive outcome.

6. Confirmation/Recap: Take a moment to confirm your prospect’s contact info and ensure they understand their level of commitment, along with any actions they must take. Then set expectations for the next steps. For example, when setting an appointment, let your prospect know that they’ll be getting an email confirmation, and schedule appointments within reasonable time frames to ensure follow through.

7. FAQs/Rebuttals: This is the most important component of any telemarketing script. Answering questions and overcoming objections is often the most difficult step for any telemarketing agent to master. Always remember that knowledge is power. Arm your team with the necessary tools to complete their objective successfully. Anticipate common questions and objections, providing talking points to help agents over these hurdles.

8. Compliance: Always make sure your telemarketing script includes any language that is a legal requirement, such as disclosing that you’re calling on a recorded line. Make this verbiage stand out so that it’s not easily overlooked. Also, carefully consider your wording to avoid sounding too rigid or too official early in the conversation, as this can make prospects wary about the call.

Listening Skills and a Positive Attitude Make the Difference

Two additional components are vital to the long-term effectiveness of your telemarketing script: a listening ear and a positive attitude. An agent’s ability to listen to their prospect and stay upbeat has more impact on the long-term success of your program than any scripted component. In a job full of repetition and rejection, this is a challenge. 

Work with other leaders on your team to apply this information. These telemarketing script components, when combined with effective training, motivational leadership, and responsible quality assurance practices, are sure to make your program a success, now and in the future.

Julie Kramme leads the sales team as sales executive for Quality Contact Solutions. Julie has a record for building strong and lasting partnerships with each client she works with. With more than twenty years of call center and telemarketing industry experience, Julie is an expert in call center operations, regulatory compliance, and technology. She assists each client with creating customized solutions to meet their growth and customer engagement goals. Julie’s primary passion is achieving goals without sacrificing quality.

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. 

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.

Improving Your Mental Game: Tips for Working through Difficult Calls



By Dean Kaplan

Whether you’re receiving customer calls or making outbound calls, if you work in a call center, chances are you manage at least one difficult call a week. If a call is truly challenging, it can affect all your other calls and possibly your non-work hours as well. Difficult calls are hard to prepare for because you often don’t see them coming. However, there are mental steps you can take to make handling a difficult call easier.

Be Prepared:

In an outbound situation you may know that a call you’re about to make could go poorly. Pull all relevant files, discuss the situation with a manager, and review notes from previous interactions before making the call.

For those at inbound call centers, make sure files are organized and you know where information can be found, but also know the appropriate escalation tactics. You can help coworkers prepare for difficult calls by taking good notes during your calls. A call often goes poorly the moment a customer becomes frustrated by having to repeat his or her story.

Stay Focused:

If you’ve worked on the same accounts for a while, it can be tempting to let your mind wander on a routine call. But you never know when a call can go wrong. Train yourself to stay in the moment, even when you are inclined to let your thoughts drift. Take breaks to clear your mind, study yoga and meditation techniques, and limit distractions on your desk.

Listen:

When a customer is explaining a problem or situation, don’t interrupt. Instead, as they talk, write down any details and questions and ask for clarification after the customer is finished talking. Not only will listening to the whole story first give you a better idea of the issue or question involved, but it will also help the customer feel better. There are few things more frustrating to an angry caller than not being heard.

Be Respectful:

Sometimes it can be difficult to treat customers with respect. This is especially true if you think the problem you’re handling is related to a mistake or poor behavior on the customer’s end. However, if you can’t be respectful of the customer and listen to their story with empathy, you should not be on the call. Remind yourself before each call that everyone has a story, and everyone deserves empathy.

Being respectful also means respecting their time. If you are making an outbound call, ask if this is a good time or if there’s a better time to call. If it’s an inbound call, you can try saying something such as, “It sounds like you’re driving; would you prefer to call me back when you get to your location?”

Learn to Recognize a Difficult Call:

We tend to think of difficult callers as people who yell or stonewall us, but there are many other types of difficult calls. People aren’t aware of what they need, they ramble, they are irritated for reasons unrelated to the call or are distracted, or they have genuinely upsetting stories. The sooner you recognize that a call may turn difficult, the easier it will be for you to mentally prepare.

Let It Go:

The most important part of handling a difficult call is once the call is over. Make appropriate notes, then take a deep breath and let the call go. When you hang up the phone, hang up on the call as well. Dwelling on the stress of dealing with a difficult situation can make other calls more difficult than they have to be and even affect your relationships outside of work. If you know that you’ve done the best you can, there’s no need to keep reliving a bad call.

Learning how to handle difficult calls takes practice. You must learn appropriate negotiation techniques and answers to frequently asked questions, and you also must develop skills necessary to listen, empathize, and emotionally move on from a call.

Dean Kaplan is president of The Kaplan Group (www.kaplancollectionagency.com), a commercial collection agency specializing in large claims and international transactions. He has thirty-five years of international business experience, traveling to over forty countries to negotiate over 500 million dollars in mergers and acquisitions and other business deals.

Maximize Results with B2B Outbound Marketing



By Ryan Apodac

“What’s the secret sauce?” This is a common question new clients often ask me. But there is no simple answer. Of course, there are a multitude of variables for evaluating B2B marketing campaigns to maximize performance. However, it’s easy to overlook the small details that can make a huge impact on your overall results. Here are a few creative techniques that a great telemarketing service partner will use to maximize results on your B2B outbound marketing campaign.

 Daily Program Scheduling

One of the keys to B2B outbound marketing project success is identifying when the prospect or customer will answer the phone. In most B2B outbound marketing campaigns, the ultimate decision maker is typically in an executive or at least a mid-level management position. Knowing that, you have to ask yourself, “When would be the best time to make contact?”

It is much more productive to dial the majority of the time Monday through Thursday and half a day on Fridays. Statistically, in B2B outbound telemarketing, Friday afternoons are typically the worst time of the week to reach decision makers. While this may not apply to every B2B campaign, it could definitely be a key ingredient.

 Use a Local Caller ID

How many times have you received a call, noticed an out-of-state caller ID number, and let it go to voicemail? Conversely, I’m sure we’ve all seen an unfamiliar local number on our Caller ID and answered it out of curiosity. “Is that my spouse’s office? Maybe it’s my child’s school. Well, it’s a local number, so maybe it’s someone I know calling from a different phone.” Pushing a local caller ID can only improve results.

 Ring-to Number

What’s the best way to speak to a decision maker? Have them call you. One of the best ways to increase decision-maker contact is to create an inbound campaign. In conjunction with using a local caller ID, routing that number to an inbound campaign and ultimately a live agent, gives you another opportunity to speak with the decision maker.

A good best practice is to route to a live agent instead of voicemail. Routing to voicemail creates the additional step of calling back the customer or prospect. Whether or not you leave a voicemail message, some decision makers will return a missed call just by seeing your phone number on their Caller ID.

 Rotating Time-Zone Attempts

While Eastern Standard Time leads are the first leads to call each day, it is likely not a best practice to run through all those leads before moving on to Central Standard Time, and so forth. The same would apply to calling Pacific Standard Time leads late each afternoon. Granted, you can dial Eastern Standard Time leads earlier and Pacific Standard Time leads later each day, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to reach decision makers.

The key here is to rotate the times during the day you are calling these time zones. Be flexible with how you manage your time zones. Review the data, and you’ll likely find that sweet spot to maximize contact.

No More Scripts

It may seem counterintuitive to eliminate your script. After all, how can you expect an agent to call an outbound B2B marketing campaign without a script? Instead, provide outbound call agents with a call guide or a call flow that outlines all the objectives and important information to relay to the customer. Then let the agent communicate that message to the customer.

For some agents this inevitably results in them creating their own script. So be it. It can empower the agent to contribute to his or her own success. Ultimately outbound marketing agents will sound more confident in their presentations if they can speak in their own words.

Careful monitoring and coaching of agents to calibrate their thoughts of effective verbiage with your expectations is key. While there is no easy recipe to maximizing performance in B2B marketing campaigns, these are definitely ingredients to consider. Think outside the box. Little changes can make big differences.

 Ryan Apodac is an operations manager and training leader at Quality Contact Solutions, a leading B2B outsourced telemarketing organization. With a background of more than a decade in sales, Ryan is passionate about developing and delivering training that ultimately results in improved performance for client programs.

Outbound Script-Writing Principals



By Kathy Sisk

How can an outbound agent overcome the pitfalls of heavy legislation that affects agent burnout? By incorporating script-writing principals using the “12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing.”

Since the national do-not-call registry took effect, many telemarketers have inundated unregistered consumers with outbound calls. Furthermore, many call centers have discovered just how crucial it is to have properly designed scripts that are in compliance and distinguish them from their competition.

Today’s heavily legislated environment forces companies to make drastic changes to their script-writing principles. This change ensures that agents adhere to legal compliances while meeting demanding production requirements.

When making outbound calls, particularly more challenging-type calls such as cold calls, scripts require careful step-by-step planning to help agents get through the call professionally and personably while meeting the legal compliance requirements enforced by both state and federal authorities.

Throughout the years I have had many opportunities to visit call centers across the globe, and I have identified two primary weaknesses in agents’ call scripts:

  1. Poor Flowing Script: Most scripts do not provide enough focus on the flow that allows agents to easily move from the “introduction” to the “post close.” Typically, it’s expected that the agent “think outside the box,” but that isn’t always possible when the agent struggles with inexperience, poor training, or a new campaign they have little-to-no experience with. A poor delivery will reflect negatively on the company, ultimately causing a decline in sales and customer retention.
  2. Inadequate Responses for Negative Encounters: The agent may not know what the primary fears their prospects have and how to overcome them before they surface in a negative encounter.

For the past thirty years I have trained agents’ in my “12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing” (with modifications to meet legal requirements). When following the twelve steps, agents’ productivity surpasses production goals while meeting demanding compliance issues.

Script writing is an art and needs careful attention to the direction, verbiage, and style of the presenter. If agents handle customer service, tech-support, sales, and especially cold calling, the twelve steps will enhance an agent’s style of delivery, give them greater control of their calls, and produce positive results.

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

Connecting on an Outbound B2B Sales Call



By Matthew Robison

Let’s face it: Nobody likes receiving sales calls. Those of us who aren’t millennials remember the days of the landline ringing at dinnertime and having to listen to someone trying to sell us a vacuum cleaner or get us to contribute to the latest fund-raising event. The timing was never good, and there was always the internal struggle of being rude and just hanging up or waiting until we could politely say we weren’t interested. Over time salespeople got better at recognizing this and developed the technique of not pausing where we expected them to while giving us their spiel, which would throw us off our game of ending the call as quickly as possible.

Since the advent of the Do Not Call (DNC) list, most people rarely have to deal with solicitors at home. But what about at work? For many, those dinnertime phone call memories are still ingrained, and the hairs on the back of their necks automatically go up when they receive a sales call at the office. So how do we counteract that reaction when we’re on the other side of the phone line? 

Ditch the Salesy Talk: Picture wanting to buy a used car and having to deal with one of those salespeople. What happened when you read that? Did your heart start beating a little faster? Did a deep sense of dread envelope you? For so many people, that’s the feeling they get when they receive an unsolicited sales call. It’s our job—in a matter of seconds—to try and assuage those fears.

Start by being a real human being. Use the same tone of voice you would use when speaking with a manager at work. Be friendly and engaging while still showing respect. You’re not your prospect’s best friend, but you also don’t need to be overly formal.

Another salesy turnoff that most people hate is answering the phone and hearing the salesperson say, “How are you doing?” You may think you’re being friendly, but until you have developed a relationship with that buyer, asking him or her that question right away will most likely earn you a terse “Fine” that does nothing to move you down the path toward a sale.

Instead, introduce yourself politely. Ensure that you have the correct person, and start by letting them know you will be taking only a few moments of their time. Then state the reason for your call. When you actually sound like a human being instead of a salesperson, you’re much more likely to be responded to as a human being. 

Ask Questions and Be Engaging: A fundamental rule about human beings is that we love to talk about ourselves. What questions can you ask your prospects to learn more about their business (thus helping you with the sale) while getting them to open up? Depending on the product you’re selling, it can be extremely important to find out what processes they’re using. Learn what they do on a daily basis at that facility. Ask how long they have been with the company.

There are many great questions you can ask to get people to open up. The key is to always be ready with a few questions—and most importantly, to listen when they answer. Many times telesales representatives are so worried about what they will say next that they don’t truly listen to the customer.

The most powerful weapon you have is your ability to ask questions and listen to the answers. When customers are willing to share even the most basic of answers, you have a great opportunity to find out what’s important to them and what their current pain points are. This information can give you fantastic insight into knowing how best to sell to them.

Connect on a Human Level: If you are lucky enough to reach a someone who is willing to hear you out, it’s extremely important to somehow connect with him or her on a human level. Be personal. Customers want to buy from people, not companies. Is it Monday morning and you’re calling Bob in Wisconsin? Bring up yesterday’s big win for the Packers. Does Jane say something about being behind today because she was in charge of the carpool this morning? Ask her how old her kids are and briefly mention your own. Any chance to connect on a personal level can be helpful in building the bridge toward a sale.

Conclusion: In spite of the fact that our society runs on technology, there is still a need and desire for good human interaction. Unless you are selling a one-time purchase item, your goal should always be to develop a long-term relationship, not to just go for the one-time sale. If you can provide value while also connecting on a human level, you’ll go a long way toward becoming a valued partner for your customers.

Matthew Robison has spent over ten years working in call centers in a variety of roles. He is currently sales manager for a nationwide welding and safety distributor.

Determining Most Important KPIs for Your Outbound Campaign



By Angela Garfinkel

One of the best things about outbound telemarketing is that everything can be measured. Key measurements include sales, sales conversion rate, sales per hour, contacts, contacts per hour, leads finalized, leads finalized per hour, list penetration rate, dials, dials per hour, average order size, average talk time, average handle time, cost per sale, and refusal reasons.

Outbound telemarketing managers and those in the business of outsourced telemarketing services often make the mistake of not communicating what their key performance indicators (KPIs) are. And the reality is that it’s virtually impossible for a team to focus on more than two or three KPIs. I’ve heard telemarketing program managers state that “all of the metrics are the most important KPIs.” That approach is not advisable because when the team works on the program, their focus can be diluted. Even worse, some KPIs can be metrics that are at odds with other metrics.

Some Metrics Affect Other Metrics: Higher telemarketing sales conversion rates may cause a decrease in contacts per hour. Why? Because it takes longer to lock down a sale versus handling a refusal. The average handle time for a sale may be seven minutes, and the average handle time for a refusal may be two minutes. The more sales you have, typically you will see lower contacts per hour.

Higher average order size also may cause a decrease in contacts per hour. If your telemarketing sales agents are up-selling and cross-selling during the call, this should result in a higher average order size. However, both up-selling and cross-selling take time and increase the handle time for that call. Again, the higher the average order size, typically you will see lower contacts per hour.

Higher dials per hour typically are associated with low contacts per hour. If your telemarketing sales team is not speaking with decision-makers, the calls usually will be very brief, and this results in higher dials per hour. I’ve seen some call center managers that set dial goals for the day. In fact, I observed one manager who set a goal of 150 dials per day for each of his staff. For the most part the staff was meeting their dial goal every day, but sales were very low, and the manager wondered why. His staff was being driven to achieve a quantity of dials versus being driven to perform and make the dials productive. When the staff would reach a voicemail for a business-decision maker, they would happily mark the call disposition as “not available” versus what they should have done: Press zero and ask the receptionist for an alternate way to reach that decision-maker or another decision-maker in that office.

How Should a Telemarketing Program Manager Determine KPIs? First, determine the desired results you need on a monthly or weekly basis. Is it a set number of sales? Is it a dollar amount in revenue? Next, determine the resources (telemarketing agents) that you have assigned to the program. How many sales and how much revenue should each person be responsible for? This should be the primary KPI you motivate the individuals of the team to accomplish in order to achieve bonuses or commissions. Finally, train your team on the two or three secondary performance indicators (SPIs) that, if achieved, will aid the telemarketing sales reps in achieving their KPI goal. Typically these SPIs will be contacts per hour and sales conversion rate. A third SPI is often the average order size, since once you have agents reaching their contacts per hour and sales conversion rate goals, the average order size is typically the next item to work toward improving.

If you have an agent who isn’t hitting his or her contacts-per-hour goal, it could be one of two things: 1) they aren’t dialing rapidly enough and are wasting time in average call work or pre-call work; and 2) they aren’t reaching the decision-maker contact and are taking the easy road when they reach voicemail or an unhelpful receptionist. They may need to be coached on ways to be more aggressive or resourceful.

If an agent isn’t hitting sales conversion goals, it is most likely a combination of sales skills and product knowledge weakness. Identify where he or she is weak and provide immediate training to overcome the weakness. People love being coached if the coaching is positive and genuinely helpful. It can be beneficial to have agents listen to another agent who is strong, instructing them to take detailed notes to aid in handling their own sales calls more effectively.

If you’re still unsure how to identify the most important key performance indicators, determine what your boss is being rewarded for. Is it sales? Is it staying below a certain budget? Is it cost per sale? If that doesn’t help, look to the market. By achieving your KPI goals, will your company be in a better market position? That may help guide the answer to the KPI question.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization with a telemanagement model. Angela has the pleasure of leading a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours on a daily basis. Angela can be reached at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com  or 516-656-5118.

A B2B Case Study: Outbound Marketing from Good to Great

By A. J. Windle

Wins and losses: In a world driven by sales, this is how we are measured.

I, like every other person I know, love to win and hate to lose. Whether the scoreboard is based on revenue per hour, sales per hour, completes per hour, or any of the other metrics we track in the telemarketing services industry, there is always one standout metric that your client will consider a win.

Knowing that metric means the difference between winning and losing. But how do you find that metric? How do you evaluate it, benchmark it, and improve it? Business demands continual growth, so how can you continue to deliver sales results once you’ve already hit previously outlined goals?

The answer to finding this magic sauce is to be proactive. The first step is to hit your goals. Once you’ve accomplished those initial objectives, set new goals and strive to reach them, too. Even when you think you’re on top and doing well, remember that good isn’t always great.

A few years back I started a new B2B outbound marketing campaign. The product was excellent, our vendor was wonderful, and the kickoff for calling was fantastic. We hit the ground running. We were reaching our goals, but we quickly realized we had some concerns regarding the quality of the calls. Within a few months, performance started to drop. I wasn’t getting a lot of pushback from the client, but I knew if things continued to decline, I would.

In an effort to be proactive, I broached the subject of launching an additional outbound marketing team in a second location for this client. The goal was to measure performance and quality in an apples-to-apples test. This was a bit of a risk because the second team might not perform well and the test might be a waste of time and money, but we were confident the risk was worthwhile.

We started placing marketing calls with the second outbound team in competition with the first group. Within one month we saw a 10 percent increase on overall productivity, and our quality scores were through the roof. As a reward, our client doubled our workload over the course of about two months. We had found the magic sauce. It was time to put this campaign on cruise control and let it work its magic.

We set the cruise at sixty and ran for several months. We continued hitting our sales per hour goals and maintained excellent quality scores. However, while we were meeting expectations, we still had a nagging feeling that we could be doing even better. We decided to launch a third call center site to test the program. The test was small but measurable. Much to our delight, call center site three consistently exceeded the previous call centers’ performance by another 10 to 15 percent and still hit the same quality metrics critical for long-term success.

As the campaign progressed we continued to evaluate the lists we were running with each outbound marketing team. We delegated hours to the teams that were hitting the goals for each of the segments we were targeting. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it takes constant evaluation and proper tracking methods to deploy. By diving deep into team performance and allocating hours to the outbound marketing groups based on their performance, we continued to see improvements across the board. Within five months we were able to double the workload from the client once again.

From a winning perspective, this is a story that I love to tell. It demonstrates the importance of pushing past thresholds, reaching new heights, and being great instead of merely good enough.

And did I mention that I like to win?

A.J. Windle is senior operations manager for Quality Contact Solutions. He is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of client programs. With fourteen years of experience in telemarketing, he has built his career on creating win-win relationships between his team, his clients, and his telemarketing vendors to drive unparalleled success.

Ask Kathy: The Outbound Calling Woe – “I’m Not Interested”

By Kathy Sisk

When it comes to outbound campaigns, it is not realistic to assume that the prospect is sitting and waiting by his or her phone in anticipation of your call. That never happens. On the contrary, the prospect may have already been inundated with calls similar to yours, in the middle of doing something more important, or simply is not available.

When you are able to reach the prospect, he or she may not have an interest in what you are calling about. If you get any negative response early in your presentation, your method of handling that response is critical at this point. One of the most challenging parts of an outbound telemarketing call is the ability to handle a premature “I’m not interested.”

Your response to this should be the “easy close.” It will guide you through this challenge and allow you to continue with your presentation. At the very least, this will keep the door open for future contact with the prospect. The easy close sounds like this: “I respect that. If I could provide you with information that could save you [money, time, effort] on your _____, are you open to receive more information about this?”

The idea is to get the prospect to say “yes.” Get the prospect to confirm that he or she would be open to more information. This turns a negative reaction into a positive response, and helps you to nudge the process forward. Once your prospect has responded positively to you sending more information, you can move onto the next portion of the easy close: qualifying the prospect’s interest. Ask the reluctant prospect: “To ensure 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 into the next step of your presentation: probing.

When a campaign is carefully thought out, and when you diligently incorporate your training into your calls, you will gain greater confidence in handling prospects and experience more positive outcomes.

Preparation is a vital key to overcoming obstacles.

Kathy Sisk, founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc., is a trainer and consultant, contributing thirty-five years of expertise to the telemarketing, sales, and customer service industries.

[From Connection Magazine Jul/Aug 2015]

The Twelve Steps to Successful Telemarketing – Step Ten: Handling Objections, Part Three of Three

By Kathy Sisk

In the last issue, we covered six objection methods:

1) Restate or Agree and Probe

2) Keep Selling

3) Reflect

4) Feel, Felt, Found

5) Ask Prospect for Best Solution

6) If I Could…, Would You…?

Now, let’s wrap up our discussion on handling objections.

Combined Objection-Handling Methods: You can also combine the methods to be more creative in overcoming the objections. For example:

“I understand your concerns, Mr. Smith. I know that price is important to you, and that you want the best price possible. I recommend a consultation. This would enable you to clearly understand and justify the price. For example, you will increase your employees’ confidence and motivation and enhance your company image. More importantly (pause) you will reduce your production overhead and increase your company’s profitability. If I can show you a way to gain the benefits I’ve just described, would you allow me the opportunity to meet with you personally so that I can validate this further?” (or) “….Would you allow us the opportunity to validate this further by using the program for 30 days? If you’re not completely satisfied, we will refund your investment 100 percent. Does that sound fair enough?” (Assumptive.)

Which objection techniques were used? Yes, the “feel, felt, found” and “If I could …, would you …” methods. Now, you practice combining the methods to create your own style of delivery.

Never Say Never: Never give up on an objection until you try to overcome it at least three times. The first objection may be telling you, “I wasn’t listening.” The second objection is saying, “You haven’t given me enough information.” The third objection is letting you know, “I still need more information; you haven’t pushed my ‘hot button’ yet.” If you still have not been successful after the third round, be sure to leave the door open for future contact by using your easy close:

“Thank you for your time and for sharing this information with me. If I could send information you would have an interest in, what would that be?” (Make this an assumptive statement.)

Be sure to get your prospect to commit to your follow-up call, encourage a healthy call back, and ensure the prospect’s interest in receiving the information. Maybe now is not the right time for your prospect, but if he or she has gone this far with you, there is still an interest. You may need a few more contacts to establish rapport. The key here is to establish and build a relationship. Do not create unintentional bad will by being insistent. Perhaps now is not the time to sell. It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t begin a rapport now that will develop into a future sale—or even a referral.

A Positive Outlook: A prospect’s complaints are sometimes based on a previous bad experience. An objection can be viewed as a concern of the prospect. Once you have gone through the objection process, narrowed down the objection to the real issue, and determined that you can do nothing more to offer solutions that will satisfy your prospect, you should not have any negative feelings about your contact. You’ve done your job to the best of your ability. Remember, you can always keep the line of communication open by using the easy close. There are still plenty of prospects out there!

Knowing that you have followed what you were instructed to do helps you to remain confident and positive for your next prospect.

Earlier we discussed the benefits of having your presentation in a script format (your road map). Your prospects’ most common objections with your appropriate answers also need to be scripted. In an automated environment, this is accomplished by placing these into the software. However, when you are in a manual environment, these objections and answers should be readily available.

Ideally, what you want to eventually accomplish is internalizing your rebuttals. The best way to do this is by practice—through role playing, understanding how the objection techniques function, and using them daily. Adapt them to fit your company’s needs and start practicing.

This completes the entire series of the Twelve Steps to Successful Telemarketing. (Remember, we saved Step Ten for last.) You can read the entire series online, starting at “The 12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing: Understand Your Market Share.”

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Kathy Sisk is founder and president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. located in California. Kathy is a trainer and consultant, contributing thirty-five years of expertise to the telemarketing, sales, and customer service industries.

[Read more of the series “The 12 Steps to Successful Telemarketing”: the prior article.]

[From Connection Magazine April 2013]