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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Queen Of Canadian Telemarketing

The Queen Of Canadian Telemarketing

By Zale Tabakman, Canadian Bureau Chief
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We are always calling strangers in companies. We do it to find customers, we do it because we are looking for a job, and sometimes we are calling because we want to buy the company.

The list of reasons we want to call strangers is endless. For our discussion here, I am focusing on outbound calls for the purposes of starting the process which concludes in some form of a sale. But don’t dismay, these outbound calling tips apply to anybody who needs to make outbound telephone calls on a frequent basis.

Some of the challenges we will discuss here address the most common problems faced by people making frequent calls to strangers:

  • Who should we call?
  • How do we find the perfect person to call - since the imperfect person wastes valuable time.
  • What is the process for managing calls?

Other questions that are addressed elsewhere include:

  • How do we create voice mails that get returned?
  • How do I learn to Start Loving Cold-Calling?
  • How to get a Yes from an effective decision maker?

As I stated in my Marketing Yourself, these tips will use the LinkedIn Social Network as a a source for prospects. But the approach is standard and can be applied to any network or any database of prospects.

Who should we call?

Quoting me from Marketing Yourself:

I know that most people think of LinkedIn as a place for e-mail marketing because

I receive frequent e-mail each day from my contacts, but I have only received a

smattering of telephone calls from my LinkedIn Social Network connections. Most

of the calls were from people looking for help on LinkedIn, only two of these calls

contacted me to do business with them. I am totally shocked at that ratio. I have

over 9,000,000 connections. My contact information is easy to get.

I suspect that most people are too shy or they feel that converting an online social network connection into a real one-on-one connection is wrong somehow. LinkedIn’s ease at e-mail is and introductions are another reason people hesitate to pick up the phone and call.

I strongly disagree with treating LinkedIn as an online network only. You and I put up our resumes and our interests with a tremendous amount of detail. We are inviting people to contact us, but it has to be an appropriate contact. We only want to be contacted if its relevant and useful to our careers or our lives.

What we want can be found in our profile. Reading a profile lets you know what your connection does and what there interests are. What more could a person making a call want to know?

I have called many people on my LinkedIn Social Network and have always being received warmly or when I have left a message gotten a call back. In every call situation, I knew a lot about the person I was calling and what they would be interested in. In the two cases of people calling me, they knew about me and were able to approach me with projects I would be interested in, I have been able to do some business with one and expect to do business with the other.

When you need to call a company to achieve a goal - LinkedIn should be the on of the first tools you turn to. Using the LinkedIn searching facility you can find the exact contact you need.

My method starts by selecting the company name or job title and then scanning the results. If that doesn’t immediately help me, I then add the search parameters until my list is narrowed down to enable me to select the profiles of interest.

Once I have their name, I then get on the phone, call the company and either by speaking to the receptionist or using the telephone directory, I get the exact individual I need to speak with.

Since I know all about them from their LinkedIn profile, my conversation is to the point and I usually have a terrific conversation.

Using LinkedIn is fast, its convenient, and it works.

Finding The Perfect Prospect

In sales, we look for the perfect prospect, that person who is part of 3% of the market who is actively looking for a product, service or a person like you today.

To find that perfect prospect, you must know exactly who buys your products, what their title is, what they do in the company, and what kind of company they work for. This is all about niche marketing. (An article about niche marketing and long tail marketing is in development.)

There are least three approaches for using LinkedIn.

  1. The obvious one is to use LinkedIn to find the actual prospect.
  2. A second approach is to use LinkedIn to find out useful background prior to approaching the prospect.
  3. The third approach is to use LinkedIn to find somebody to introduce you to the prospect.

To find actual prospects is straight forward, but requires a practical approach and some work. Imagine you are selling Customer Relationship Software for medium size companies, the person who makes the purchase decision is the VP of Sales. To find the prospects, enter “VP of Sales managing people” into the search field. Then narrow down the search as per the previous discussion about calling into a client.

A large network rapidly identifies many prospects which you can then start your telemarketing to. After a couple of hours of effective telemarketing, you have a sales queue.

To find some useful background on clients, use LinkedIn to find other people that work at the company.

In our Customer Relationship Software example we could look for a user of the system. Their title would be account manager or business development manager. After selecting one or two account managers from the target company, you call the account manager and tell them what you do for a living. Once on the phone you can tell them you are planning on calling the prospect, giving the prospect by name, but before you do, you want to make sure that there is an opportunity. You can then ask them what the company is currently using for CRM software and how they like it. Judging on the response you get, you will know if there is true opportunity and what the prospect’s needs are. Obviously the conversation will be more sophisticated than this. Later in the process section, I provide a few places where you can learn about how to have those conversations.

The final approach is to look for somebody peripheral to the prospect. For example, the CFO or the VP of Marketing. A conversation with the CFO about how your CRM can speed sales or a conversation with the VP of Marketing on tracking marketing responses will invariably lead to an introduction to the prospect.

In summary, if you aren’t using LinkedIn for B2B sales, you are not using everything that is available to you.

What About The Process Of Outbound Calling?

You require a good process for outbound calling. The process is about selecting whom to call and relating it to your financial goals. its about understanding where in the sales process the calls fit in. Its about creating good scripts, its about tracking your response rates. And its about a myriad of other details which can make calling prospects effective and profitable.

To get a decent return on your investment, you must have a structure and tools in place. Otherwise, your time will be eaten up one minute at a time with just managing the process rather than using each minute for effective execution.

Its taken me a long time to learn about tele-marketing, what’s effective, and how to manage the process. There are some short cuts depending on what you want to do.

My good friend Marguerite Mcleod-Fleming runs a whole company called The Results Source dedicated to using the telephone for generating sales. Her company uses Canadians and Americans to call for setting appointments or inviting people to seminars or need that requires a conversation with a senior level executive. Her company can do the calls, train your staff, or setup the program for your internal management. For company’s requiring a high quality and reputable firm for lead generation of high end products, I highly recommend that you contact Marguerite and tell I sent you.

I don’t need these kinds of services and most of my readers don’t either. So Marguerite has created help for the rest of us.

Like myself, Marguerite believes strongly in contributing and sharing her expertise. She believes in giving is the best way to receive. Marguerite has created a white paper that is an excellent introduction to understanding how to setup your outbound telemarketing program.

Click here to receive the (free) white paper from Marguerite. While this white paper is primarily for companies selling a product worth more than $10,000 in value and has two or more direct sales representatives, it provides an excellent overview of the concept of telemarketing. Its quite excellent as it outlines a practical structure and approach both small and larger organizations can use to making telemarketing effective and practical. Her approach is based on understanding the model of marketing and how it applies to outbound sales calls.

Applying Marguerite’s approach and using a LinkedIn Social Network as a source of leads and prospects, creates a tremendous business opportunity for you.

I highly recommend that you download “Cold-Calling 2.0: The Next Generation of Prospecting”.

Another way to access Marguerite’s expertise is through Elite Gold Cold-Call Excellence Coaching program. You can sign up here, and for $10 you get a starter kit worth $347. It's perfect if you are not making the kinds of returns for the effort you are putting in

Till Next Month!

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