Last month we looked at advertising and direct mail. This month we will look briefly at some key points to be aware of about customer databases and then look at telemarketing.
This assumes that you keep information about your customers in an electronic or paper database.
A database should allow you to:
- Contact the right decision-makers i.e. correct name and job title etc at the right address or phone number.
- Understand their buying behaviour - order dates, frequency, timing, order sizes etc.
- Keep existing customers up to date with your products and services.
- Assess customer profitability.
- See the payment history.
- Store any personal information that is relevant i.e. age, gender, social or economic status.
There are very strict rules on the storage and processing of customer information i.e.:
- You need permission to hold it.
- You must store it securely.
- You must use and process data in accordance with the principles set out in the data protection act.
- You should check whether you need to be registered with the information Commissioner.
You will need to be aware of the telephone preference service (TPS) and mailing preference services (MPS) which allow people, and in some cases some types of businesses, to opt out of receiving unsolicited calls and mail shots. You should ensure that before any campaign that your database has been cleaned to take into consideration people registering on TPS or MPS; there are mail cleansing services that you can use for your own database.
You may choose to purchase a list in order to find new customers; the Direct Marketing Association website will give you a list of providers.
Telemarketing can be time-consuming and for many can be nerve-wracking, particularly when the calls you are making are cold-calls.
But the advantage is that you do get the chance to speak to your audience so you can tailor your message accordingly and you can assess the level of interest. Telemarketing can be used for consumer and business marketing. Businesses are often more receptive, on the other hand customers and consumers can see these as nuisance calls.
Telemarketing is good for:
- Researching and contacting business decision makers.
- Updating your database content.
- Fixing appointments with people; few if any business customers will place an order based on a phone call so be clear about the purpose of the call.
- Keeping in touch with existing and lapsed customers.
- Finding out more about customer needs.
- Giving information about the benefits of your products.
As with all marketing, this can be done by you or your staff. A lot of skill is required to achieve a decent conversion rate, so some training may be needed.
What do good telemarketers do?
- They have clear objectives for the call and the outcomes, including being clear about the message that they want to get across.
- Check that they have the correct person on the telephone.
- They understand that they have about 30 seconds to make an impression, so they get to the point quickly in order to get the other party's interest. It is worth having an opening script that you can read from, this will help you get the initial message, aimed at getting the other party's interest, across confidently. If you decide to use an opening script make sure you write it in conversational tone (i.e. how you would say it) so that it doesn't sound as if you are reading.
- Encourage the other party to talk by asking open questions and if there is a pause in the conversation letting the other party break the silence.
- They listen actively to what is said by the other party so they can tailor the call and the message.
- They don't interrupt, second guess or try to pre-empt the other party.
- Summarise the conversation at intervals. This shows the customer that the caller is listening and understands.
- Talk confidently about the benefits of the product and (as they possibly already have a supplier) the benefits of switching.
- Develop a rapport with the other party; a good tip is to smile whilst you are talking.
- Have excellent product knowledge and can answer any question however technical; the other party may put you to the test.
- Ensure there are no interruptions or distractions at their end.
- Know how to get past the gatekeeper i.e. reception or the PA.
- Take rejection without it harming their confidence. People will say no, but you have to bounce back.
There are professional telemarketers will offer this service for large companies and to smaller businesses where skills and resources are a lacking.
That's all for this month. Next time we will look at PR and start to look at digital marketing.
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