As well as the sales letter, the telephone call is also a powerful means through which contact with a sales prospect may be established and maintained. Indeed, far from being alternatives, the sales letter and the telephone call may be used as mutually supportive contributors within an overall scheme.
The telephone call has so far been the traditional means of following up a mailshot. A newer approach, however, now puts the telephone call in the front line as the initial means of contact. This approach is know under the title of 'telephone sales' or simply 'telesales'.
Using the telephone for your first approach has certain advantages. It gives you immediate contact with the current decision maker at a personal level. It enables you to assess instantly his needs and likelihood of becoming a customer. It saves you the cost and trouble of sending unwelcome literature to someone who simply has no use for what you are offering. It saves him the disposal problem on what he regards as more 'junk' mail and a possible bad regard for you the sender.
But although people in business generally appreciate being kept informed on products and services relevant to their endeavours, telesales can be potentially offensive and regarded as encroaching too much on personal privacy if it is not handled skilfully. To guard against this, many organizations using telesales work from carefully prepared multi-option scripts which are written and approved long before telephoning begins.
Using the telesales method of phoning first and sending mail afterwards ensures that your sales letters and their accompanying literature are expected and welcome. Because they arrive 'by invitation' they should also receive better attention and more favourable consideration than cold unsolicited mail.
MARKETEER'S telesales facilities enable you to make telephone calls to individuals at random, or to each individual in turn within a specially profiled target group. To initiate a call, you simply type-in the command word 'DIAL' or alternatively press the F5 function key.
METHOD OF DIALLING
MARKETEER'S Telesales Facility can be set up to enable you to obtain your calls in one of two ways according to the equipment you currently have attached to your computer. In the first case, you have to dial your calls manually. In the second case a modem dials them for you automatically from the telephone number given to it by the computer.
For manual dialling, you do not need any communications equipment connected to your computer. The name, address and telephone number of each prospect on your calling list is displayed in turn on the screen. You then make your telephone call simply by dialling the number shown. For automatic dialling, a modem must be installed in your computer and connected in parallel with your telephone. In this case, you simply enter the DIAL command (or press F5) to dial the call.
A telephone headset which is plugged directly into your telephone will prove very useful during long telephone sessions since it leaves you with both hands free to use the computer and make notes.
MARKETEER presents the details of each prospect you wish to call in the name & address box on the screen. Within this box is shown the prospect's telephone number. At your command, the modem dials this number automatically and then switches the call through to your headset. It then waits for you to indicate the end of your call, whereupon it disconnects both itself and your headset from the telephone line.
From the Main Menu, select Option 5 'Telephone'. The Telephone Menu then appears. Scan down the menu using the up-arrow and down-arrow keys and read the explanatory text on each menu option.
SELECTING THE METHOD OF DIALLING
The method of dialling as currently set up is shown on the top right of the screen. If you have a modem installed then it should be set to automatic, otherwise manual. If it is incorrect, select Option 4. The dialling method then toggles (changes to the other setting). MARKETEER then records the new
setting on disk. It therefore remains in force until you change it again using this option. You are still in the Telephone Menu.
Even if you are equipped for automatic dialling it is still useful to read about the manual method and vice versa. This is because, in the event that the modem should become faulty, you can instantly reconfigure to manual dialling. Conversely, if you are on manual dialling, you can become informed ready for when you get a modem.
Please select Option 1 'Make one-off phone calls'. A blank name & address box now appears on the left half of the screen and a Call Result Options box on the right. Below, you see the instructions for retrieving the name & address details of a prospect by typing-in his NAMECODE, POSTCODE, or Ref number.
You are now ready to type-in the NAMECODE, POSTCODE or 'Ref' number of the prospect you wish to call - ie the 'addressee' for your telephone call. Why not call us? We should be pleased to hear how you are getting on. Please therefore type-in the NAMECODE 'EBS', and then hit the carriage return key.
After the expected search time during which MARKETEER scans through its database index to find us, our name and address appears in the box on the screen. Beneath the box is a list of five command words which you may use to determine MARKETEER'S next action. The familiar 'NEXT' and 'PREV' command words are there as seen before in Chapter 8 for scanning forwards or backwards respectively to the next or previous prospect record. Please type 'HELP' and read the explanations of what the other command words do. Then press the 'Esc' key to return to the name & address display.
Notice that the command word 'TYPE' which you saw in Chapter 8 when typing sales letters is now replaced by the command word 'DIAL' which is for initiating a direct telephone call to the prospect whose details are currently shown within the name and address box on the screen above.
As soon as it has finished loading the prospect's name & address details, MARKETEER checks that a valid telephone number does exist in the prospect's record as displayed in the name & address box on the screen. If no telephone number is shown, or if what is there is not a valid telephone number, MARKETEER displays a message telling you so and informs you that it cannot therefore continue with dialling the call.
Assuming, therefore, that we have a valid telephone number, please type-in the command word: DIAL (or press the F5 key). The command words now disappear and what appears in their place depends on the method of dialling you have.
In the case of manual dialling, a message now appears asking you to dial the telephone number shown within the name & address box above. Below this is a message telling you to press the space bar when you have finished the call. So now please pick up your telephone and dial this number.
Forget MARKETEER for the time being and concentrate on your telephone call. When you have finished, hit the space bar as prompted. You should then look at the list of Call Result Options.
Please select the option which applies to the call you have just made. If you indicate that you actually got through to the called number (ie you selected one of the first 5 options), MARKETEER records the fact that a telephone call has been made to this prospect on this date. The Call Result Options will be explained in more detail later.
You are now back at the command word entry field. From here, you are free to scan to the next or previous record, return to the NAMECODE/POSTCODE/Ref recall display to recall the details of someone else, or even dial the same person again!
If you have a telephone headset, please put it on. Now type-in the command word 'DIAL' (or press the F5 key) as described for manual dialling. The 'DIALLING' lamp at the top right of the screen then lights to show that the modem is dialling the call. A message appears at the bottom right of the screen telling you to pick up your phone when the tone sounds. When dialling has finished, you will hear the tone. The 'DIALLING' lamp then goes out and the 'HOLDING' lamp lights. The modem is now holding the line open to give you a chance to pick up your phone or put your headset on line. It will continue to hold the line for half a minute or so, or until you terminate the call by entering the 'KILL' command or pressing the 'Esc' key.
IF A FAULT OCCURS
If the modem cannot make sense of the number given to it, or if there is an incoming call on your line, it does not attempt to dial the call.
In such an event, an appropriate error message is displayed above the Call Result Options box. If the message indicates anything other than an invalid phone number of an incoming call, then check that the modem's line cord is plugged into a BT socket. If this is not the reason, report the message to your dealer.
PROCEEDING WITH THE CALL
If all is well you should hear the ringing tone in your headset and the called prospect should answer. While talking to your prospect, you can make notes pertaining to the call. Please enter the 'NOTE' command (or press F7). A 12-line diary then appears with today's date stamp in the left column. You can enter brief notes here before you make the call, during the call, or after the call. Follow the editing instructions below the box. When the box becomes full, the oldest note (the top one) is lost to make room for a new one at the bottom. A rolling diary of your last 12 contacts with this prospect is thus maintained automatically.
You terminate a call by entering the 'QUIT' command or by pressing the F2 function key or the 'Esc' key. You are then asked to select the Call Result Option. Please select the option which best describes the result of the call you have just made. If you indicated that the call was successful (ie you selected one of the first 5 options), MARKETEER then records the fact that a telephone call has been made to this prospect today. This information is stored in this prospect's own data record within MARKETEER'S disk files for later reference.
You are then back in the command word field. From here, you may scan to the next or previous record to make other phone calls, or you may press the 'Esc' key to return to the record retrieval display from where you may type in the NAMECODE, POSTCODE or Ref of someone else you wish to call or you may press the 'Esc' key again to return to the Telephone Menu.
This completes your first exercise in making telephone calls to individuals, so please now press the 'Esc' key twice in succession to take you back to the Telephone Menu. At this point, you might like a break, or you may wish to carry on. Either way, you know the procedure by now!
RESULT OF A TELESALES CALL
With targeted telesales sessions (ie a one-after-the-other telephone session to a group of prospects making up a particular telesales target) MARKETEER monitors the outcome of each call and compiles it into a Call Session Report at the end of the calling session.
Therefore, before attempting a targeted telesales session, let us consider in more detail the possible results of a telephone call mentioned earlier. Please select Option 3. You now see a display of 9 possible results of an attempt to make a telephone call. The first 5 state the degree of success of a person-to-person contact, while the last 4 relate to telephone line conditions which result in call failure.
You are able to use this option to change the wording of these call result descriptions to suit your preferences. However, please note that whatever you call these results, the first 5 will result in MARKETEER counting the call as having been made, whereas any of the last 4 results will cause MARKETEER to offer you another attempt at making the call after you have been through all the others on the current calling list. The 9 possible call results are discussed individually below:
- Decision Maker Contact
This is where you have actually spoken to the person you intended to speak to who has the power and authority to give you an order for what you are trying to sell to him. Thus you have just made a successful telesales call.
- Alternative Decision Maker
This is where although you could not reach the decision maker whose name you had been given, nevertheless, you have spoken to somebody who also has the authority to initiate purchase orders.
- Decision Maker's Personal Assistant
You have got as far as the decision maker's secretary. Some telesales people actually start off by asking to speak to the decision maker's secretary. Then, once they have established a sympathetic rapport with her, they ask her a question she can't answer. That's how they get to speak to the boss with his secretary's approval! Remember, a secretary can often have quite an influence on the purchasing decisions of her boss!
- Non-decision Maker Contact
This is usually a far less effective telesales call. However, if the person you have managed to speak to is somebody whose technical advice the decision maker respects, then it is a very good foundation on which to call back in a later attempt to reach the decision maker.
- Telephonist Only
An unsuccessful call, but perhaps useful for finding out names of decision makers and decision makers' advisers.
- No Answer
This is where the prospect's phone has been ringing for such a long time with no answer that you decide to hang up. BUT BEWARE! YOU WILL STILL HEAR A RINGING TONE EVEN IF YOUR PROSPECT'S PHONE IS OUT OF ORDER, SO DO NOT ASSUME HE IS NOT THERE OR THAT YOU HAVE A WRONG NUMBER.
- Line Engaged
This is where the engaged tone is heard. It can mean that either the called number itself is engaged or that there are no trunk lines available between you and the number you are calling, in which case the number itself could well be free. In fact there is a slight difference between the 'subscriber engaged' tone and the 'no trunks available' tone, but not many people recognise this difference.
- Number Unobtainable
This is where you hear the 'unobtainable' tone. It can occur either because the number given in the prospect's record is no longer in use, or because the number received by the exchange's dialling equipment was not recognizable as a valid telephone number. In the latter case, the number you dialled could have become garbled somewhere between your fingertips and the exchange's dialling receiver. So hearing the unobtainable tone does not always mean the number is unobtainable.
- A Fault Condition
This can be for example where you hear nothing at all (a dead line). If you get a dead line instead of the dial tone when you first pick up your phone, it usually means that your exchange has run out of available dialling receivers because so many people are making calls. In this case you should simply try again a little later. A dead line after dialling means that the exchange has run into unusual difficulties in routing your call. Eventually, the 'unobtainable' tone should come on.
Another example is when you break into a conversation between two other subscribers in which case you should report the fault to TELECOM.
The numbers of calls made in each session of each of the above result-types are given at the end of the Telesales Session Report printed at the end of each session. This information gives you a measure of the effectiveness of each session. Please press the 'Esc' key to return to the Telephone Menu.
MAKING CALLS TO A TARGET GROUP
MARKETEER'S telephone facility really comes into its own when used to 'hit' a specific target group of prospects with a telesales campaign. Please select Option 2 of the Telephone Menu. You now see the familiar name & address box containing details of the first prospect on the calling list. The Call Result Options box is on the right as before but now also contains details of the target list. There is also a message in the bottom right of the screen telling you that this prospect has not yet been called since the current calling list was generated.
Whenever you enter Option 2 in this way, the name & address first displayed is that of the first prospect on the list who has not yet been called. So if you did not get around to calling everybody on the list during your last telesales session, or you could not get through to some of them, you are automatically placed to call the first one who was not called last time so that you can effectively continue your telesales session from where you left off.
As you call each prospect, as well as the call event being recorded in the individual prospect's event record, the result of the call is also recorded on the calling list itself. This is how MARKETEER knows where to start from in order to continue from where you got up to in the calling list last time. This information is also used to produce the call session report to be discussed later.
You can make diary notes before, during or after each call as before. On completion of each call, the Call Result Options display shows the list of 9 possible call results discussed earlier. You then select the appropriate result for the call you have just made. The ones you see here are the ones we have set up. However, Option 3 allows you to change these items to suit your own circumstances and preferences.
After each call, MARKETEER records the 'call result' you have selected onto its calling list ready to be printed out later in the Telesales Session Report. If you indicated that the call was successful (ie you selected one of the first 5 options), MARKETEER records the fact that a telesales call has been made to this prospect today. This information is stored in the prospect's own data record within MARKETEER'S disk files for later reference.
The NEXT and PREV commands in this case allow you to scan to the next or previous prospect ON THE CALLING LIST: not the next or previous in the NAMECODE, POSTCODE or Ref indexes. Therefore, after each call, you advance to the next prospect on the calling list by entering the 'NEXT' command (or pressing the F2 key). If you decide that you don't want to call that prospect (ie you want to skip over that prospect), then you simply advance to the NEXT one after that. If while scanning around the calling list you encounter prospects who have already been called, the message in the bottom right of the screen states the date and time they were called.
Of the prospects within our test group, try calling some and skipping some at your own discretion. Whatever the result of the call, MARKETEER always records the final outcome and then allows you to advance to the next prospect on the calling list.
CALL SESSION REPORT
When all prospects on the calling list have been called or skipped, return to the Telephone Menu and select Option 5 'Print Call Session Report'. Then switch on the draft printer and follow the on-screen instructions for printing the report. This report lists each prospect on the calling list, giving for each the result of the last call made to him and the time and date of the call. This enables you to see who was called and who wasn't and why. A summary of the number of calls with each possible result is given at the end of the report. When the report has been printed, return to the Telephone Menu and then study the content of the report. Option 6 allows you to print only the call results summary at the end.
This completes your 'hands-on' introduction to MARKETEER'S telesales facility. So now please switch off your draft printer.
PLANNING YOUR TELESALES CAMPAIGN
If you are planning to use this facility for 'front line' telephone selling, now is perhaps a good time to prepare the script for you or your 'phoners' to use when you come to make your phone calls. A carefully designed script is vital in order to make your telephone presentations as perfect, consistent and reproducible as your sales letters, advertisements and brochures.
But telesales scripts are not straight forward texts to be read through from beginning to end over the telephone. Once you have made a short opening oration to your prospect, the next part of the script you read must depend on his reaction. This means that you must be able to jump from one 'paragraph' to another without being confined to one strict sequence. Yet, the sequence you follow in any instance must be one of a predetermined set of permitted options.
It is helpful to have each 'paragraph' typed out on a separate piece of A5 size card which is protected in a clear plastic cover. The top half of the card shows the script that you are to speak, while at the bottom of the card is a set of 'IF' statements of the form 'IF THE PROSPECT SAYS SUCH AND SUCH, GO TO CARD NUMBER SO AND SO'. The cards can then be punched for placing in a ring binder to allow you to flip easily from card to card while you are actually in conversation.
Furthermore, in order both to monitor the results of your calls and to record ways in which the script might be improved, it is necessary to have 'call record' cards designed so that you can fill in these results each time you make a call. Then, after a 'post phone session' meeting with your colleagues to discuss the results of your phone calls, you can update the on-file information for the prospects involved within MARKETEER'S database. How to do this will be discussed in a later chapter.
MARKETEER purposely does not provide the facility for a 'phoner' to change details about individual prospects within the database during a phoning session. Experience shows that this generally leads to disaster. It is necessary to think about and consider each amendment to on-file information while not under the pressure you are under during a sales or marketing telephone call.
When designing your telephone script, you must bear in mind that it is going to be listened to rather than read. It must invoke an active response rather than be passively absorbed. The telephone script is therefore quite different from the text of a sales letter or the copy for an advertisement. Producing it requires not only your knowledge and experience of what you are selling, but also the style and technique of a professional telephone script writer.
This is not unreasonable since you probably use a professional copy writer for your press releases and advertising copy, and a professional graphics designer for your 'corporate identity', your advertisements and your product brochures. So why not get in touch now with one of the professional 'telesales' agencies and have them design a telephone script for you.
If you are new to telephone selling, or you wish to branch out into a new market, it could be advantageous for you to hire the services of a telephone sales agency not only for producing the initial script, but also for blazing the telephone trail for you in a blanket telephone campaign to obtain a shortlist of reasonably well profiled prospects. You could then put these onto MARKETEER and follow them up in greater depth and carry them through to final conversion into customers.