Cold calling, Telesales, or Telemarketing, are different names for the same activity, or at least, the same purpose; a prospecting engine that generates new sales leads regularly to increase organization sales.
Cold Calling is -no doubt- a very tough job by nature, fortunately, you can make it much easier and more rewarding by applying the following basic steps that must be done to increase your number of qualified sales leads, and ultimately, increase your sales figures.
What should you prepare before "Cold Calling"?
1) A "Telesales" employee (s): sometimes sales employees do the calls by themselves, however, it's better if you have your own dedicated Telesales staff for many reasons:
A. Cold calling is a profession by itself; you need to have experienced "cold callers" who have previous experience in this field.
B. Saving your sales staff time for other sales activities, such as preparing presentations, writing proposals, negotiations and deals closing. In addition to preparing sales reports of course!
C. Generating new leads will be a continuous daily process, not only when business is down or when there is no enough leads.
D. You can easily set targets for number of "new leads" generated by a telesales employee and measure achievements versus targets as long as it's a full time job.
2) An up-to-date prospects data base: thisis the corner stone of cold calling. Make sure that you always have a "fresh" database with updated contact information. In order to filter the suitable prospects to work on, data has to be categorized into different business sectors, territories, and company size -number of employees might be a good indicator.
If you have more than one telesales employee, make sure to distribute the data among the team members to ensure that no customer is contacted more than once with the same message.
3) A sales script: This is the most important tool that your telesales employee will use. Script must be concise, tenders to present benefits that will be gained by the customer more than the product features, must contain an introduction to the company and the product, and a closing script that contains a conclusion for the call and requests for a commitment from the customer.
4) A call target: What is the minimum target you want to achieve your call (s)? And what is the ultimate one? This depends on the type of product you are selling and the market that you are approaching. Targets might be one of the following:
A. Just get more info about the customer and whether they are using a similar product or not.
B. Set a meeting date for your field sales team with the customer to start the sales cycle.
C. Agree on everything over the phone except the price which will be sent later by email or fax.
D. Or maybe the target is to close the deal over the phone.
A clear target is the most important thing. This will help the telesales employee to work on the target more consistently, and it will give you the chance to compensate your telesales employee according to target achievement.
5) Gather information about the customer before you call: Internet is a great source of information. Just use it. Never call a company without spending 3-5 minutes -at least- browsing their website. Get more information about the company history, business sector, market segment, product mix, and any related information that might help you to start your speech and to present your product. Knowing the industry can help you speculate the usual problems that the customer might have. It can be a good introduction to your product.
6) A clear target for number of qualified prospects per week or month: A definition of qualified prospect should be communicated clearly to telesales team. A qualified prospect is a prospect that is willing to buy the product or service you are selling now, or in the near future, and have a budget. Consequently, he is ready to buy now or set a meeting date with your sales team to start the purchasing / sales cycle. Achieving targets must be compensated generously.
7) Ready sales literature: Sometimes customer requests for written information about the product to be sent to him / her by email in order to read at his / her convenience. A soft copy - preferably in a PDF format - must be on telesales employee computer machine in order to be sent to customer immediately to create a sense of promptness.
8) Compensation plan: In addition to the salary and the company benefits, there are 2 ways of applying responsibilities; the first one is according to number of qualified leads that will be handed to sales team, and the other way is according to number of "closed" deals. I prefer the latter in order to ensure that the telesales employee is doing his best to give a really qualified prospect to sales team.
9) Follow up reports: This type of reports can be generated automatically with minimum effort from the telesales employee side. There are "Call Center" systems in the market which detect a number of "outbound" calls per "agent" and the duration of each call. Information can be presented in many formats including informative graphical format.
Also telesales employee can forward the qualified prospect (s) to Sales team; a report can be generated to represent the number of qualified prospects per telesales employee during a period of time. Also a report represents the rate of closure (number of qualified prospects relative to number of calls). After a period of time you can find out your standard bench mark according to your industry and market conditions, this bench mark will give you a good chance to evaluate new telesales employees.
10) Convenient place to work from: a quiet workspace with no interruptions from other employees, a telephone handset with a headphone speaker, a computer set that has prospects database and a tool that enables the telesales employee to enter calls results (or just a predesigned spread sheet).
Cold Calling is not only a great tool to generate more qualified sales leads; it also gives you a clear image about the market behavior as well as competitors moves and initiatives. All what you need to do is to store all the information obtained from the calls. Occidentally, you will have a wealth of priceless information that will boost your sales if used in a smart way.