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Cold Calling: Pros & Cons - Essential Guide 2017

Cold calling refers to the practice of calling companies or customers directly via 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. These should not be specific to solely marketing, but also to best practices that are relevant to this method. This explains why many companies opt for call centre outsourcing.

Contents
What is Cold Calling
Why Use Cold Calling Services?
Cold Calling Benefits
Cold Calling Drawbacks
Conclusions

Outsourced Telemarketing generates £11 for every £1 spent

What Is Cold Calling?

As SME’s 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 the data, the call centre's expertise and how the cold calling method works on your niche will determine the quality of the outcome.

Businesses with no prior experience in telemarketing often crash at the first stage of campaign set-up. Buying data brings about a number of challenges, such as pricing and deal variations. If you're a first-time buyer, ask whether deals are available for you.

Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

When buying customer lists, it's important that the data has been cleansed of anyone registered with the TPS. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) can charge up to £500,000to those making unsolicited marketing calls. It is therefore strongly advised to filter out any TPS-registered numbers. As well, it's 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 leads state they are registered to not receive marketing calls, you will need to go to your lead seller and inform them of the specific data concerned. From here, you should request replacement data. You must also ensure 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.

Exclusive Use

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 it's fair share of opportunity, it's possible that those receiving the calls will have bought from a competitor already, or will be frustrated with receiving multiple calls from companies in your niche. As you buy data, make sure to activate your telemarketing campaign as soon as possible whilst the data is still fresh.

Data Cleansing

It is common for data to be incomplete or out of date. This is often the case with B2B leads, marketing teams and procurement staff. These can have a high turnover, so you need to ensure that your marketers can can 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.

Data Management

This concerns data-handling. Some believe that marketing calls are simply empty chatter, but this is not the case. Your call centre sales team need to be trainedin 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 is vital for extracting the most conversions.

Call centres will tend to invest in a high quality CRM – your marketing software. Often, SME's are unsure of which one to opt for, or are not prepared to invest. If a marketer calls a customer who is unavailable at the time, but is prepared to discuss your offer at a later date, you must be available when agreed with that customer. You must also maintain a professional image and make the best use of call time.

Let the professionals boost your marketing, leads and profits

Why A Business Might Need Call Centre Services

Many businesses are great at what they do daily, but find repetitive phone calls and 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 ok; anything more is really good, but again, this also depends on the quality of the data and efficiency of follow up notifications.

Because call centre staff are notoriously low paid, many assume that anyone can do the job. However, given that cold calling is a numbers game, when you do find that buyer who says they are not interested, it is vital to be completely aware of the possible ways to lose a sale. This comes with practice.

Objection handling requires effective training to get over the nerves and taking rejection personally. Companies who are proud of their products can find it difficult to differentiate 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 dealing with their concerns and moving them closer to the sale. For some products/ services and some customers, this sales cycle takes varying time-scales. Call centre outsourcing eliminates personal diary management to allow for calling back potential customers when they are ready to buy.

Benefits of Call Centre Outsourcing

The beauty of outsourcing telemarketing is that specialist sales teams focus on your individual customers and work on influencing opinions.Trained cold callers know how to qualify, filter and reschedule prospects. They are in a routine, so working through the many barriers to conversions are a habit.

Telemarketers must focus on concise and accurate call recording. Aside from this, call centres must quickly establish a rapport to find out why your potential prospect might buy into your products. A thorough script will become second nature to them and can be adapted depending on how the call proceeds. The professionals understand best practice in terms of tone and specific words used by would-be customers. These help tease out reasons for going with your offer.

Their training will encourage understanding of your products/ services, where there are opportunities for cross or up-selling and understanding the potential concerns your customers will have. Working through those objections skillfully and systematically is part art and part science.

Call centre services incentivise their cold calling teams to achieve results with bonus payment systems. This brings out the creative thinking of the marketer. A skilled telemarketer will convert leads into sales and even keep them coming back for more. They may even encourage leads to sign 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.

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Draw Backs of Call Centre Outsourcing

Delegation of any of your business operations always entails an element of risk. However, mitigation of risk comes from professional staff. You can have operational teams who are experts 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 which requires effective training. Sales staff also work best in teams amongst other marketers, because they each share their skills, boundless energy and optimism. Cold calling is hard work and takes a particular mindset that is fuelled by colleagues with similar aims. Without this, 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 can bring in the volume to cover your costs and increase profitability, as well as generate 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 make contact and build long term relationships with your audience. Likewise, it can support 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.

Many of the larger businesses use this method 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 gain more sales than you could otherwise generate without a dedicated team. Understanding how cold calling works and how to reach success in telemarketing means that you are equipped to ask the right questions. This, in turn, will allow for getting the strongest possible results.

Next Steps

Find out more about telemarketing and how you can benefit from it with the following related articles: