We’re going to be pretty blunt in this post. Lots of people try and do telemarketing and it doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s not the right fit for a specific business, but sometimes it’s because you’re falling into one of these 11 traps.

You don’t have good data

We talk about this a lot. You need good data to use when you’re telemarketing – the right names and numbers for the right people in the right businesses. If you’re calling an outdated list, or your database is full of people who will never be your target audience, you’ll waste a tonne of time on calls that will never go anywhere.

Databases are the key to an effective telemarketing campaign. If you don’t have one, or you haven’t been cleaning and validating it, the first step is to get that sorted. Yes it’s an upfront time investment (or financial, if you choose to use a database management service), but it saves you wasting that time or money when it comes to the meat of your campaign.

You don’t know your audience

How can you have good data if you don’t know your target audience? Well, you can’t. You might get lucky with some of it, but ultimately you need to know exactly who you’re talking to if you want a successful campaign.

You need to know things like:

  • The industries that buy from you
  • What your ideal/most profitable customer looks like – industry, size of company, turnover, number of locations, etc
  • The job roles of the people who can make a purchasing decision
  • The other stakeholders that may influence the decision
  • The issues that they’re trying to resolve/the pain points they’re experiencing

Some of that feeds into your database, so you’re targeting the right people, and some of it ties into your messaging. Talking of which…

Your messaging sucks

Take a look at your telemarketing calls. How often do you say “we” compared to “you”?

This is a great way to see how good your messaging is. Do you start with “we do this, we do that, we can help you with x, y, and z…”? If so, your messaging sucks. It’s all about you. When you’re telemarketing, you have to recognise that you’re interrupting people. And no one wants to be interrupted to hear about how great your business is.

If you talk about them, you’re immediately more interesting – everyone likes to talk about themselves. And you pave the way for them to see how they can benefit from what you offer. Instead of telling them you can save them money on x service, ask them what issues they’re dealing with right now.

If you ask them questions, you open up the floor for them to talk, which is much more effective than your pitch. “How are things with [industry issue]? A lot of your peers have told us they’re struggling with x and y. Is that something you have to deal with?”

You don’t know when to stop talking

Sales people like to talk – it’s a pretty key part of the job. But if you don’t know when to shut up, you can easily talk yourself out of a sale. When you’ve cold called someone, you have limited time before they run out of patience and get you off the phone. As we mentioned above, getting the person you’re callinh to start talking will get you much further.

You can learn a lot by asking questions and then shutting up to hear the answer. You might find out something that takes the conversation in a whole new direction, or opens up a completely different type of opportunity than you were expecting. If you keep talking, you might shut off those avenues before your contact even has a chance to think about them.

You’re not making enough calls

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s the downfall of many an ineffective telemarketing campaign. If you don’t make enough calls, your campaign will fail.

What counts as enough calls will differ by industry – some job roles are harder to get to get hold of than others, so you need to make more calls to even get a person on the line in the first place. Other industries are easier to get someone to speak to, but may be a harder sell, so you need more conversations to convert someone into a lead. Either way, telemarketing is a numbers game.

The more calls you make, the more conversations you have. And the more conversations you have, the more leads you’ll generate. It’s simple enough, but some people stop after a dozen or so calls and decide telemarketing isn’t the right fit. Keep calling. Call throughout the day – you may discover specific times that are more effective, or specific days of the week. The more calls you make, the more data you have on when and how to make those calls for the best results.

You’re screwing up the intro

You don’t have long to engage your prospect – you’ve interrupted their day, they weren’t looking for your service, and they’re probably busy. Your first few words and sentences are crucial. If you lose someone’s interest before you’ve even got to the meat of the call, they’re going to be getting off the phone as quickly as they can.

You’ll find tonnes of advice about how to start a sales call. Some people will tell you not to start with “how are you today?” because it makes it clear this is a pitch, others will tell you that you need to start that way to be friendly. Some industries like gimmicks – others will hang up instantly. There’s no single rule that defines a good start (if there was, everyone in sales would be on a yacht in the Bahamas because they’ve cracked the code).

You need to test different intros, but the trick is to have the right messaging. If you know what your audience cares about and you ask questions, you’re already a step ahead.

You’re not qualifying your leads

If you’re managing to get leads but they’re not converting into paying customers, this is one of the areas that might be failing in your campaign. The purpose of telemarketing is not simply to get as many people as possible to say yes on the phone, it’s to generate leads that have a chance of converting. If you’re booking meetings, you not only want the contact to actually show up to the meeting, you also want that meeting to be productive and have a chance of closing a deal.

When you talk to prospects, you’re not just selling to them, you’re also supposed to be qualifying them. Someone might be interested in what you’re offering but not have the budget, authority, or need for it right now. That contact simply won’t close, which means the meeting won’t be an effective use of time. Asking qualifying questions on the call will help reduce no shows or wasted meetings.

You’re boring your targets

Being boring is a terrible sin for a salesperson (and telemarketers are indeed salespeople). If you bore the person you’ve called, they’ll be getting off the phone as quickly as they can. They may have stopped paying attention before they even hang up and now they’re checking emails while you drone on.

You need to excite and engage with your audience in order to get them interested – tell them a story of what the future could look like for them, share an insight, provide value. Ask questions, get them talking, engage with what they’re saying. Don’t stick rigidly to a script. Let the conversation be a conversation.

It’s an absolute cliche, but it’s true that people buy from people, especially when they weren’t out looking for a specific product or service. So don’t bore them.

You’re not listening

We’ve mentioned asking questions a fair few times in this post – because it’s super important. But if you’re not listening to the answers, then you’re not getting the point.

You’re not just listening out for buying signals, either. You need to actually be listening to what your contact is telling you, and listening to what’s not being said, or what’s between the lines. Learn everything you can from a call, it gives you a much better insight into what this contact needs and what you might be able to do for them.

If you’re not listening, you’ll miss some comments that seem minor but might actually be the key to the whole deal. Plus, if you make notes of the things you heard, you can bring those topics back up later, which shows that you were listening. Everyone likes to be heard, and you’ll build better relationships if people know you were paying attention rather than treating them like just another potential sale.

You’re not being honest

If you’re trying to get as many leads as possible, you might be tempted to stretch the truth, gloss over certain things, or brush off objections. If you do that, you might get some leads but you won’t be closing them. No one likes to be tricked into signing up for something, whether that’s a meeting or follow up call, a trial, or even the service you’re selling.

If a contact says something that you know will be a dealbreaker, hiding that fact from them will not only irritate your sales team, who had no chance of closing that lead, it’ll also leave a very bad taste for the contact. Who may well then tell other people about their experience, affecting your reputation overall.

You may get fewer leads if you’re honest with people, but do you really want to be a business that engages in sneaky and dishonest sales tactics?

You hate doing it

Ok, so telemarketing is not for everyone. You get to spend a lot of time calling and getting nowhere, hearing a lot of “no thank you” (and plenty of less polite versions of no), and getting stuck in a gatekeeper black hole.

If you hate doing it, you’re going to struggle to hit the numbers you need. You may struggle to get the messaging right. You may find it hard to start each call with the same high energy, no matter how many rejections you’ve already had that day. And that’s ok – it’s a tough gig. But if you hate it, your success level will be low.

What’s the solution? Well, you may be expecting this, but it’s outsourcing to a telemarketing agency (hey, that’s us). Getting people who do enjoy this work, who’re trained to avoid all the mistakes we’ve detailed above, and who brush off the “no”s – that’s how you get past the challenge of hating doing it yourself.

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