So how do businesses continue to be profitable during an economic downturn? Call it a credit crunch or a credit crisis, it’s about to adversely affect all businesses very shortly. I’ve been around the block a few times, and I remember well the problems faced by a young salesman (me) back in the late 1980s / early 1990s. During that time I helped to dramatically improve sales as a Telemarketing Manager and went on to become top field salesman for global communications company. So when many companies were going to the wall, how did I buck this trend? Read on and find out.
I don’t suffer fools gladly. I am a very hard worker and I have little respect for the lazy people in this world who expect something for nothing. Seeking to break in to Telemarketing, I joined a local telecoms company back in the late 1980s, who were struggling to find new business. They had recently appointed a new sales director who was probably one of the best salesmen I’ve ever met. All this chap needed was fully qualified appointments. He’d taken on a handful of low-paid telemarketing people in a back office to thrash away at telephone directories. Despite this chap bringing in his own business, he was running out of leads fast. Then a young chap (me) turned up at his door in response to an advert in the local paper – things were about to change.
I was offered a part-time job a few hours a day to see how I could do. In the first day, I was making appointments and an immediate sale was made. Within 48 hours I was out performing the amateurs by almost 10:1 and my appointments were already being converted in to sales. By the third day, the Sales Director took me in to his office and said “If I made you Telemarketing Manager, what would you want?” I asked for a free hand to hire and fire my own team and a much bigger pay packet. This period in my life was to form the future basis for freelance telemarketing
Call me ruthless, but my job is to do the best for whoever I work for. I fired his entire telemarketing team immediately! It was one month and an endless queue of useless telemarketing people that applied and were rejected. Finally, one lady walked through the door grinning from ear to ear like a cheshire cat. With blue chip training from one of the best telemarketing operations in the UK, this lady and I became the telemarketing team. Whilst the Sales Director sharpened up the 3 sales reps, my mini telemarketing team booked all four reps solid until they were overflowing with quality appointments. Within 6 months, the company had moved from potential bankruptcy to having one of the most favourable balance sheets in their industry. Blending my success as a former retail consultant with the knowledge and experience of my sales director – we created a consultative telemarketing approach.
So why were 5 telemarketing people, an advertising campaign and 4 reasonable to excellent sales reps not finding new business? It’s difficult to blame the salesmen as they were never really trained to be telemarketing experts. It’s easy to assume that a good field sales person is just as good on the telephone, but this is rarely true. Although the skills appear to be the same, in practice they are very different. A field sales person works very much on personal contact including important factors like body language. A telemarketing expert has to achieve all this from the voice at the other end of a telephone. A field sales pitch can last anywhere between 5 minutes to several hours before they close. A telemarketing person generally has anywhere between 1 and 15 minutes to close an appointment. So if the field sales team were not to blame for a lack of new business, what about the telemarketing people?
If you were in the unfortunate position of having to appear in court, would you choose the least experienced and cheapest solicitor to represent you? If the matter was insignificant then maybe you would – but what if your livlihood depended upon the outcome? Without sales, any for-profit organisation will end up bankrupt. All businesses require a steady stream of potential new business and this must be created somehow. The fastest method of achieving new business with other businesses is undoubtedly via telemarketing. Yet too many businesses assume that an inexperienced person on a low wage will provide the results they require. It is about as likely to expect a cheap junior solicitor to win in court for you, as it is for a low-paid inexperienced telemarketing person to win you new business!
I think you’ve guessed by now that the weakest link in the chain was the poor standard of telemarketing. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re selling on a ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ scenario to Jo Public, then thrashing the numbers on a telephone is your best bet. When you’re selling a more complex offering to other businesses it takes a little more savvy to gain the results – it requires consultative telemarketing. It still boils down to making those calls, but the sales message that you use and how this is presented will undoubtedly make all the difference.
I will shortly be publishing part2 of this story, with a more in-depth look at how freelance telemarketing can beat the credit crisis. If you can’t wait for the next installment – call me on 0870 042 1263 or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org