Dialing for dollars and other idiotic sales actions

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Published: November 14,2005

I am looking for a telesales company — a firm to hire to pre-qualify opportunities and make appointments for my salespeople. Is there anyone you would recommend?

Let me paraphrase that question recently posed by a reader: “I’m looking for a list of people who want to buy now. Who can make one for me?”

REALITY CHECK: Why would you trust making a first impression on your customer to a total stranger (telemarketer) in the hope that you will garner sales?

Many “non-sales oriented” entrepreneurs look for the easy way out. You think it’s a good idea to use a telemarketing company to set leads that are qualified, so that your inept sales force can go out and mangle them. Meanwhile, the image of your company is ruined by the 98 out of 100 people who said “no” to the telemarketer, or hung up in disgust.

Wake up, Sparky! There is NO sales panacea. If you wanna make telemarketing cold calls, make them yourself. If you want qualified leads, qualify them yourself. If you want to talk about mismanagement, business-criminal mismanagement, nothing could be worse than giving away your first impression opportunities.

Here’s a quote to ponder, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” (I believe this is a Zen quote, but I’m sure one of you will correct me)

A common word used in today’s marketplace is “outsourcing.” In my opinion, you can outsource everything in your company — except sales and senior management. There’s one sales exception. You can hire territorially-oriented sales representative teams that work as independent contractors. These salespeople are generally seasoned veterans with great inside connections and a track record of success. Many successful companies do this.

NOTE WELL: If you hire a telemarketing firm, they use predictive dialers (one call right after another), and try to quickly “qualify” the customer. Or they take a “survey” to try to get a lead. They’re more interested in “numbers” than they are in quality or relationship. They could care less about your image. They could care less about your good will. And the expense will far outweigh the value of the lead.

If you’re thinking about hiring a boiler room company to do your sales dirty work, your results will be costly and less fruitful that you can imagine. Far more costly than doing it yourself.

Here’s what to do:

• Find energetic college students who are majoring in business management, marketing or sales. There’s a sales fraternity on most college campuses called Pi Sigma Epsilon. Every member of that fraternity is eager to gain experience. Hire a few of them.

• Create a script that immediately engages a prospective customer without much of an introduction and without using the words, “How are you today” or the word “survey.” For example, if you’re selling health insurance — you might begin by saying, “Hi, my name is Mary with (company name) and I was wondering if you know if you get injured off the job, does your health insurance still pay for the claim?” or “If your health insurance claim is denied, who’s the person you contact in order to challenge the denial?” These questions will engage the prospect immediately and give you an opportunity to further the conversation so that you can potentially set an appointment.

• Create a nice environment for your telemarketers. Feed them snacks. Have plenty to drink. And make sure that their computers work flawlessly and employ some form of telemarketing software.

Pay them a salary plus a bonus for each lead. Make certain they follow the fundamental rules of telephone engagement:

1. Ask thought-provoking questions.

2. Be friendly at all times.

3. Be polite at all times.

4. Thank people for their time.

4.5 Take three stabs at engaging and asking for the appointment, and then move on.

Here’s the good news: by hiring and training your own telemarketing team, you will also gain more insight about what your customers are really looking for and what key elements engage them enough to set an appointment. These answers will form the basis of the successful marketing AND sales program.

Once you understand what motivates people to respond, and why they’re willing to buy, you can create a successful branding campaign and sales presentation. This will also build your reputation in a way that is not possible if you outsource.

REALITY CHECK: Even if you use a telemarketing service and get leads that you turn over to your salespeople, more than 50% of them will be noted by your salespeople as “bad leads.”

If salespeople are charged with the responsibility of getting their own leads, you’ll never have a “bad lead” complaint again.

If you need sales, and are looking for someone else to make them for you, dream on. If you want to make your sales-dream a reality, all you have to do is wake up, smell the Pop-Tarts, hire your own salespeople, and create a game plan for them to win for themselves, and for you.

GitBit: Want a few engaging questions? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and type the words SMART QUESTIONS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
salesman@gitomer.com.

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