I am often asked to do assessments of telephone sales teams and contact centre telemarketing teams to see where they can improve. The same mistakes often occur everywhere I go so it is easy for me to see why the staff are not making sales.
Last week, I visited one of the worst performing call centres I have ever seen. The telemarketers had received some product training but no sales training. They were getting one appointment per day per telemarketer and making 300 calls each. I believe they should be getting one appointment per hour. I have listed the things they did wrong so you can check you do not do any of these things yourself.
These people were calling from local area yellow pages phone books to businesses to get them to change their telephone service provider. They had no knowledge of the name of the person they needed to talk to.
1. They did not always give their name and name of the company when they called.
Feedback – This is illegal. Always give your name and the company name.
2. They asked to speak to the office manager.
Feedback – Better to ask for the specific person you want to talk to. e.g. first ask for the name of the person who handles the decisions on the telephone services for the company. At least then you have the name of the person you are talking to so you can use it during the conversation as a rapport building tool. Often the gatekeeper won’t put you through if they hear that you do not know the person so I recommend you simply ring back later in the day, asking for the name of the person you need to speak to. You are much more likely to get through.
3. If the gatekeeper would not put them through first time, then the telemarketer simply moved onto the next number in the phone book. No records were kept of who the decision maker was so the call was wasted.
Feedback – Whoever you call, enter their name into a database (once you get it) and put in a date when you are going to call again. Telemarketers need to think of cold calling as building their own business on a database. You are doing the work of ringing, why not keep an account of who you are calling so these people can be called again? Customers don’t always want to buy now, but they may in the future when their current supplier lets them down.
4. Once through to the decision maker, the telemarketer said their name and company plus “how are you going?” When people who cold call me ask that question, my heckles rise and I feel like saying, “Mind your own business” or “Is this a sales call because you are interrupting my day”. If I am looking for a way to hang up immediately, I am sure most people are too.
Feedback – Always start with an interest grabbing statement which contains a major benefit to the customer. In this case they could say , “we may be able to save you hundreds of dollars on your phone bill. To establish exactly how much we can save you, may I ask you ………..?”(then go into questions).
5. The telemarketers asked some qualifying questions like, “who was their current provider, how many lines did they have?” However they asked the questions in a closed way that would only get a yes or no answer. E.G. Are you currently with telstra? Is your bill over $500 a month? This is where training is needed.
Feedback – It is important to make sure the questions are asked as open beginning with “what, why, where, when, how, which , who” so the customer cannot cut you off. They encourage the customer to give you an answer.
6. The telemarketer did not demonstrate any listening skills . The customer explained how many lines they had after one of the questions and the telemarketer would give a quote and then ask again “do you have any other lines like a fax?” The customer had just told him that.
Feedback – After your questions, you should always repeat back what the customer said. It gives the customer confidence that you heard what he needed.
7. We never actually got far enough into the call to close for an appointment on my visit but I would like to bet the telemarketer would say, “Would you like to meet with one of our consultants?”
Feedback – Always close for an appointment with an open-ended question “When would be a good time for you to meet with one of our consultants?” Then give a choice “Monday or Tuesday?”
8. The telemarketers were churning through calls – 300 a day.
Feedback – get an automatic dialling system to save time and effort. Also ensure you have headsets that eliminate background noise. If you are selling a phone service, make sure the phone service you are using is of good quality – not a voip phone.
9. In this company’s case, it was not always essential to make an appointment because if a company had only a few lines, then the recommendation to change service providers could be handled over the phone. This could save the cost of the salesperson going out to an appointment.
Feedback – train and retrain the staff on product solutions for different clients so they can answer questions when asked. It does not give the customer confidence to change providers when the salesperson does not know which product plan to suggest.
10. This company had a 40% no show rate when the salesperson turned up at the appointment.
Feedback – This can be rectified in many ways which can be the topic of another newsletter in the future. One way would be to give the customer an incentive to have the appointment like saying the salesperson will give away a voucher for a FREE holiday for 2 anywhere in Australia as a thank you for seeing him. You can buy these vouchers in bulk for $25 each. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you the company to contact and their details.
11. Average stay of a telemarketer in the company – 3 months
Feedback – make the contact centre a fun place to be. Get the staff together on a daily basis to discuss gripes and whinges, what works and does not work.
Time spent in training is never wasted.
Jenny Cartwright – International Sales Trainer / Speaker / Coach
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