Cold Calling & Telemarketing: What works and what doesn’t (Part 2)

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May 24th, 2010

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As promised – some more tips for your telemarketing success. But first a quick story…

The last time I hired a telemarketing firm while I was working as an insurance agency producer, I had horrific results. We selected a firm with “insurance expertise” and asked them to set up conference call appointments for us to sell a national P&C program that was unique to our agency. I hoped for activity – and they delivered plenty.

I had conference call appointments who wanted to discuss benefits, conference call appointments who thought I was supposed to be there for an on-site appointment, conference call appointments that were incorrectly scheduled due to time zone differences, and conference call appointments with people who had never heard of me or my agency. The ROI for this project was close to zero, and the telemarketing firm could not understand why the project had failed. They had promised activity, but I guess they didn’t mean sales activity.

What can be done to avoid this situation?

• Employ a Caller with Insurance Experience – This does not mean a professional telemarketer who made calls for CreditUSA last month but also called for an agency last year. I mean actually hiring a caller who has worked in an agency or company. I promise they are out there. Maybe a CSR looking for sales experience, maybe a producer looking to get off the road. My story above used a young man who “primarily called for agencies” and we saw how he crashed and burned. Make the investment in someone who understands the business, and the increased appointments per hour will be your dividend.

• Clarity in Appointment Requirements – Often agencies will allow callers to schedule any kind of appointment at any time for any line of business. This comes from our hubris as producers. We assume if we have a lead, somebody will get there and make the sale. The problem is an appointment from a telesales rep is still a lead that needs to be nurtured before it becomes a prospect. This job is much easier when you only accept one type of appointment (ie: conference calls for your P&C program). Removing ambiguity in the format of the meeting and the products that will be discussed decreases the chances you nip the bud of your lead.

• Big 3 Differentiators – This is a stolen idea, but it works. On a cold call, you will have the chance to share 3 big differentiators about you and your organization. More likely 1 or 2, but 3 at the very most. Invest time and effort in determining and refining the big 3 for you. Make them simple and compelling. For example: We insure truckers, we have for 30 years, and our service is outstanding. A telemarketer will never have time to discuss more than 3 and probably will not have an opportunity to explain them if they are vague. This is critically important.

Hope you all find this commentary useful in building your business and refining your lead generation campaigns. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Happy selling.

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