For better odds of success, be prepared to do your homework and, most importantly, be yourself.
By Liz Lemarchand, MediaDev
If you ask most people whether or not they like to be called by telemarketers, the answer is a flat out NO. I don’t disagree — I can’t stand being called by people that are clearly reading a script as fast as they possibly can, who are pushy or trying to convince me that I just won something for nothing. Having been a telemarketer myself back in the day (way back in my college years), I know first-hand that it’s not an easy job (especially since I was calling people to ask them to donate money which clearly no-one wants to do ever!).
Memorizing a script is not the key to success (I still know mine by heart in fact nearly 25 years later …) but there are some easy things that can make it better for both the caller and the listener. I’ve already outlined some ideas in parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series, but here are some more tips that should not be neglected:
Know the role of the decision-maker you’re calling
Like any good PR or marketing guru, you know that your key messages need to change depending on your audience. The reason why standard scripts don’t work is that they cannot and do not take into consideration the fact that different messages resonate with different people. A Head of Supply Chain is not going to be interested in the same solution benefits as the Head of Sales or the Finance Manager, or an HR Manager. Each one should be targeted using a specific, tailored angle or pitch that was designed just for them. If you understand the role of the decision-maker you are speaking to, it will be easier to know what “keeps them up at night”, (meaning, what are their concerns, challenges, pain-points that may push them to find a potential solution). Put yourself into your prospect’s shoes so that you can speak their lingo — that means really knowing who you are calling and conveying to them the “what’s in it for me?” behind your words.
Don’t speak to irrelevant contacts
This kind of thing drives me wild: When I get a call from someone pretending to know what I “need”, when in fact, they have no idea (and they don’t even listen when I try to tell them). If your product or solution cannot help me, then you are wasting everyone’s time. It’s better to take a minute to confirm that the person you are speaking to is the right contact for your topic rather than naturally assuming that they are (only to find out 10 minutes later that they aren’t). Speaking to contacts that have nothing to do with the subject at hand is not going to get you anywhere, so it’s best to try to avoid doing that in the first place.
Make it fun
You don’t need to be a stand-up comic or out there looking for laughs, but making your topic more personable will naturally make the conversation more fun and engaging. Having a good ice breaker will do exactly that — it should help break down some inherent barriers that exist when cold calling a prospect out of the blue for the first time. Experiment with different ones until you find the one that works for you.
Stop worrying so much
One of the biggest challenges of being a telemarketer is fear. You’re worried the prospect will say no, that they’ll say yes, that they’ll hang up on you, or that they’ll ask you hard questions you’re not prepared to answer… you name it and telemarketers fear it. But if you stop worrying so much about what could happen, you’ll be more present “in the moment” which will make the conversation flow better and be less stressful for you. I kind of compare this to dating. If you lack confidence, are worried about what you’ll talk about, how you look, or how the date will go, you will for sure turn off the other person. However, if your voice abounds with confidence, you have prepared some discussion points ahead of time, and then you “go with the flow” of the conversation wherever it takes you, you’ll be much more successful.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
I know there’s a tendency to want to pick up an accent when you’re calling people from different locations, but just don’t do it. Be yourself. You will come out sounding much more natural then if you are trying to be British or Irish or Texan. Unless you were a theater major or doing this job to pay for acting school, I highly recommend leaving the fake accent behind.
Get a referral
The number one rule in sales is always get a referral. The same is true in telesales — whether or not you just got a lead, getting the name of someone else within the company that you can speak to later is a great way to continue the conversation within that account, get more detailed information and enhance your database of contacts. You never know when that contact will come in handy.
Telemarketing isn’t easy just by nature of the job itself. It takes hard work and perseverance to keep at it day after day. The people that are really good at this kind of work are the ones who love it — they find it challenging and interesting to speak to new people day in and day out, and every conversation they have is different. This is how it should be for the industry as a whole; it shouldn’t be monotonous, boring or annoying.
As a caller and a listener, it can be a miserable experience. Getting hung up on is never fun, but being bothered when you’re busy isn’t nice either. My advice to the listeners is be honest — don’t say “send me an email” when you’re not interested; just say, “I’m not interested.”
The user experience would be entirely transformed too if each telemarketer went into every call as a new adventure … so let’s put aside the poor calling experience we’ve all had and give the next caller a shot. I bet you’d be surprised at the outcome if you do!