Cold calling is the term generally applied to the practice of calling companies or customers directly via the telephone or VOIP system to generate interest in your product or service.
Telemarketing, or telesales is a specialist service, requiring a specific set of skills and knowledge, not only of marketing generally, but also best practices specific to this marketing campaign method, which is why many companies opt for call centre outsourcing.
|What is Cold Calling|
|Why Use Cold Calling Services?|
|Cold Calling Benefits|
|Cold Calling Drawbacks|
What Is Cold Calling?
When SME’s are looking to build their list of customers there are a number of lead generation methods they may want to consider. Telemarketing via cold calling to a list of leads is one way to build your customer base.
The quality of outcomes is determined by a number of variables, the first being the quality of the data, the second, the expertise of the call centre services, the third, the applicability of the cold calling marketing system to your particular niche.
In terms of quality of data, businesses with no prior experience of telemarketing often get burnt at this first stage of campaign set up. There are a number of issues and challenges buying data throws up, not least variations in pricing and deals available. If buying for the first time, ask if they have deals available for first timers.
Telephone Preference Service
When buying lists of potential customers, it is important if marketing in the U.K., to establish that the data has been cleansed of those individuals or businesses who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service. If these leads have not been filtered out, you or the telemarketing service you have outsourced to can be liable to being fined up to £2,000 for breaking the law. It is worth backing up a lead buying transaction with an email specifying this requirement, to protect yourself.
If you specifically request for TPS filtered data and find that some of the leads say they are registered to not receive marketing calls, you will need to go back to your lead seller and inform them of the specific data concerned and request replacement data. For this reason, amongst others, it is vital that your telemarketing staff keep accurate records of call outcomes. If you use a CRM, ensure that ‘TPS registered’ is an option for you to track if this is a problem.
Check with your data provider or call centre services if your lead list is exclusive to you and if so, how long for. If your company is not getting first bite at the cherry, it is possible that those people your sales teams are calling will either have bought from a competitor already, or will be frustrated with receiving multiple calls from companies in your niche. You need to ensure that if you or the cold calling companies buy data, you activate your telemarketing campaign as soon as possible whilst the data is still fresh.
It is common for data to be incomplete or simply out of date, particularly when leads are business to business and particularly if you are trying to reach marketing teams or procurement staff; these teams can have a high turnover, so whichever recording system your marketer is using, you will need to facilitate their being able to add new records to manage your data.
Some call centres will employ regular data cleansing methods and train their telemarketers to manage their lead list appropriately. It is worth checking any contract you take up with call centres for their procedures in this regard, to save you money on wasted calls
This brings us to the issue of how the data is handled. It is easy to make the mistake of believing that all there is to marketing calls is having the patter on the phone to customers. This is a costly mistake to make. Your call centre sales team need to be trained in the significance of effective data management, so that contact details on lists are kept as up to date as possible and that full details of the call are recorded. This optimises the lead list, which as professional cold calling companies will tell you is vital to extract the most conversions.
Call centres will tend to invest in a high quality CRM – your marketing software. Not all SME’s know which one to opt for or are prepared to invest in this vital piece of kit to efficient call management. For instance, if a marketer calls a customer who is unavailable at the time, but is prepared to discuss your offer at a specific time and date, your system and team have to be available when agreed with that customer to maintain a professional image and make the best use of call time.
Why a Business Might Need Call Centre Services
Many businesses are great at what they do daily, but find picking up the phone time after time and experiencing rejection too difficult. It takes a particular mindset to keep going to find the ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’, particularly when the odds tend to be 1:100! Achieving 3% conversion rate is doing ok; anything more is really good, but again, but this also depends on the quality of the data and efficiency of follow up notifications.
Because call centre staff are notoriously low paid, it is assumed that anyone can do this job. However, given that cold calling is a numbers game, when you do find that buyer from amongst many calls to customers who say they are not interested, it is vital to be completely on the ball about all the possible ways to lose a sale. This comes with practice.
Objection handling requires effective training, including role play, to get over the nerves and taking rejection personally. Companies who are proud of their products can find it difficult to know the difference between a ‘no’ and a ‘not right now’. Telemarketers at cold calling companies develop an ear for spotting those opportunities to convert to a sale at a later date, filling your marketing funnel with warm leads.
Often, the cold calling process is more about building relationships with your customers on your behalf, dealing with their doubts and concerns and moving them closer to the sale. For some products and services and some customers, this sales cycle takes varying time-scales. Call centre outsourcing takes the pressure off your own diary management to clearly focus on calling back potential customers when they are ready to buy.
Having specialist skilled sales teams, purely focussed on the needs of your individual customers is the beauty of outsourcing your telemarketing; influencing opinion is what their teams do all day, every day. Trained cold callers know how to qualify, filter and reschedule prospects, because they are in a routine and working through the many barriers to conversions are a habit.
Apart from remaining focussed on concise and accurate call recording, the main job of call centres is to quickly establish a rapport and find out your potential prospect’s reason why they might buy into your products. They will begin with a well thought through script, so that it becomes second nature and can be adapted to how the call proceeds. Call centre marketers will be attuned to nuances of tone and specific words used by would-be customers to tease out reasons for going with your offer.
Their training will incorporate understanding your service and products, where there are opportunities for cross-selling or up-selling and understanding the potential concerns your customers will have. Working through those objections skilfully and systematically is part art and part science.
Call centre service incentivise their cold calling teams to achieve results with bonus payment systems, which bring out the creative thinking of the marketer. If there is a sale to be found, a skilled telemarketer will convert leads into sales and even keep them coming back for more and signing up for other offers you may have, such as newsletters, so you can sell to them automatically at a lower cost per conversion.
Contracting out means that you can get on with what you are good at and elect to step in when leads become warm, or outsource the entire sales cycle to call centre services.
Are There Any Draw Backs To Call Centre Outsourcing?
Delegation of any of your business operations always entails an element of risk calculation. However, mitigation of risk comes from professional staff. You can have operational teams who are expert at what they do, but who may lose sales through missing one apparently insignificant detail over the phone to potential customers.
You could decide to keep sales in house, but, this requires effective training and sales staff work best in teams of other marketers, because they each share their skills and their boundless energy and optimism. Cold calling is hard work and takes a particular toughness of mindset that is fuelled by colleagues with similar aims, otherwise weariness and lack of focus can set in, ultimately costing you more.
What you need to consider is the cost of your products, profit margins and how many sales it would take to cover costs of outsourcing cold calling. Costs of conversions to sales may not justify the cost of call centre services. However, your viability may rely upon volume of sales. Establishing relationships over the phone with the human touch can bring in the volume to cover your costs and increase profitability, to say nothing of generating new ways to market to warm leads via newsletters.
Is Cold Calling Worth It?
Each business must ask themselves if direct outreach to more customers will drive growth. If the answer is yes, then cold calling is a great option to establish contact and build long term relationships with your audience and working into existing or new ways to market to your audience. Cold calling should not be a stand-alone, so for instance, converting cold leads into warm leads for marketing to via email can generate sales further down the line, even where immediate sales have not been achieved.
There is no doubt that cold calling works. Many of the larger businesses use this method as one marketing strategy amongst others to make contact with new customers you might not otherwise reach. All marketing is an experiment. Professional cold calling companies will help you work through your key metrics and report on results.
High quality services mean you can realise more sales than you could otherwise generate without a dedicated team. Understanding more about how cold calling works and the variables involved in successful telemarketing means that you are equipped to ask the right questions and get the strongest possible results.
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