According to the DMA, telemarketing is a billion-dollar industry driving 66 million men and women to purchase a product via outbound telemarketing calls. Before you make telemarketing part of your strategy though, figure out what kind of telemarketing would work for your products and / or services and what to look for when hiring an outside company.
Telemarketing can be used to solicit information, conduct surveys, record and process orders, provide technical support, offer customer service and make actual sales. Inbound telemarketing is used fairly often when a company needs to process orders or provide customer service. This type of call center can easily be provided through a third party company as long as that company is qualified and capable of providing that information. Outbound calling, as the name implies, is when a company place calls to prospective sales leads. Companies oftentimes use outbound call centers when conducting a survey.
If you have a customer database and want to inform them of an upcoming sale, or event, an outbound call center would be your best bet. You’ll need to provide a phone script, or you can have the company draft for you for a few hundred dollars. If you don’t have a contact list, you can purchase one.
Telemarketing companies typically charge per hour, or per-call. If you need a highly skilled representative to provide technical information, your rate will be higher than if you only need reps that will process customer orders. In the quote or agreement, these rates should be detailed and ask if the company charges a monthly minimum if the call volume goes below a certain level.
One of the downsides to hiring an outside company is training. If you work with an outbound call center, the representatives will be the first impression customers have of your company. You can conduct “trial” calls with these representatives after you train them on your key messages. Some business owners may want the reps to leave messages and others may not. You can set these guidelines (how long to stay on the phone, when to leave messages, etc.) for the reps to follow.
Before you hire a telemarketing company, there are a few elements you’ll want to ask when negotiating a contract and signing an agreement.
- Features. If you work with an outbound call center and instruct the representatives to leave a message, can you use an 800 number associated with the call center?
- Tracking. The reports you get from these companies can be very valuable feedback and is a way for you to decide if a campaign is working. Ask how often you are provided with detailed reports on the status of your campaign and how often you can listen in on calls.
- Agents. If you hire an inbound call center, see if there are different fees associated with the agents. You will only want to use the specialized agents for technical support and general agents for other calls.
- Do not call lists. The telemarketing company will most likely be up-to-date with any laws and regulations around these lists. However, it doesn’t hurt to confirm that with the company you outsource.
- Agreements. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Keep the initial conversations high-level, but when it comes time to sign an agreement, make sure it spells the specifics out. Sales, lead generation, order processing, and other functions can all be specifically negotiated, which usually ends up costing less overall.