Payphone

A phone conversation with your target prospect gets things done. It is quicker than messages backwards and forwards. You initiate a dialogue and decisions get made. You can gently cajole, persuade, and deal with any objections or misunderstandings that may exist. On finding out more about their needs you might sell them a more appropriate product or service. A better solution perhaps.

The telephone as a tool for prospecting has had a chequered past. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, field-based salespeople were encouraged to simply knock on doors. Years ago, I used to work for a forklift truck company. At the time when I joined, in the mid-80s, door-knocking was still the principal way for the field salespeople to generate new prospects. They would be instructed to take one of the company’s small pallet trucks on the back of a trailer, expected to park it up in the middle of the industrial estate, walk around and start banging on some doors. In fact, the company insisted on this type of activity.

Customers’ experience of this type of phoning clearly damaged the reputation of outbound telemarketing. The person making the call was untrained and consequently had a script that they weren’t allowed to deviate from. The reason they weren’t allowed to deviate from the script, of course, was that they had no conversational abilities or sales skills over and above what the sales manager or company owner had decided they needed.

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In business to business, hopefully the person making the calls is more highly paid and so they are a resource that you cannot afford to waste. Training is important. You might expect me to say that. But so are other things such as targeting. It’s well worth spending time carefully targeting the companies that will be contacted. For me, this makes more difference to the effectiveness of any telephoning campaign than even the skills of the person making the call.