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When telemarketing goes wrong

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 Back

While no one tells their 3rd grade teacher that they want to be a telemarketer when they grow up, we’ve all tried it at some stage, even if it’s just 5 nervous calls to find new prospects on a slow work day. Most of us learn after these few attempts that it’s a difficult job, best outsourced to someone who knows what they’re doing!

So with visions of being showered with fresh sales leads (and with our fingers and toes crossed), we reach out to a telemarketing company to produce the results that we were unable to achieve from our own attempts.

Usually we are rewarded with a flow of new prospects to visit and new proposals to write, and we get on with the job of turning them into clients and growing our business.

BUT…sometimes despite the best attempts of the telemarketing team, the campaign doesn’t work. What’s gone wrong and what can you do?  

How good is the list?

While it seems like a nice idea to buy a cheap overseas list, or to use an internal database, this will be next to useless if the phone numbers are wrong, the companies no longer exist or the contact is no longer there.  An inaccurate database can mean 66% more calls are needed to get the same result, which is a lot of wasted time.

Solution:  Make sure the database you’re using is up to date and accurate or if you are buying a list use a reputable list broker who guarantees their data.

Are you targeting the right market?

You might be struck by the idea of letting the telemarketing team target a new market segment but the best way to gauge the success when partnering with a new team is to target the market you are most familiar with and have a good idea of our your product or service will be received by the market.

Solution: Ask the telemarketing company to help you identify the best market to target based on your ideal client profile.

How good is the script?

A script that just says what your company does will not be enough to get a prospect excited. Make sure that it explains your USP’s and what these will do for the customer - why they should be meeting with you.  Use a ‘hook’ that gets prospects wanting to meet you to hear more, such as how you can solve a problem for them, a special offer you have or present some relevant advice.

Solution: Check the script the telemarketing team are using and make sure it is engaging the prospects.  Use lots of questions that focus on uncovering likely needs and make sure that the script is not technical.  The telemarketer is selling the appointment not the product.

How good is the person making the calls?

Your brand is being represented in every call, so the person making these calls needs to understand your company’s culture as well as the range of services or products they are looking to promote. They must also be well trained in the art of getting past gate-keepers and how to use the hooks in the sales script they are using.

Solution: Listen to the telemarketers making calls.  You will hear where they are getting stopped in their presentation.  Use this to improve the script and provide training to get them back on track.

Are the meetings being confirmed?

The meeting was set a couple of weeks ago and the prospect hasn’t heard from you since.  No wonder the prospect has forgotten about the meeting by the time you turned up.  Or if they had remembered but needed to reschedule due unexpected commitments, they don’t know how to contact you to arrange another time.

Solution: Send the prospect a personalised email providing your contact details and confirming the appointment as soon as it is set.  Then send another email or SMS the day before reconfirming the appointment.

Are you trying to requalify or sell over the phone?

The meeting has been set with someone who has indicated they are interested in hearing more about your product or service.  If you call the prospect again prior to the meeting and try to requalify them or sell to them over the phone it's very likely the prospect will be confused by this and back out of the appointment.  

Solution: Trust your telemarketer to set genuine appointments and use their conversation as a springboard for a great face-to-face meeting.  Calling to re-qualify appointments risks getting dragged into a sales presentation over the phone, and that is never as good as presenting face-to-face.   

Is the right person going to the meetings?

The success of your campaign is ultimately determined by the number of new business and customers that comes from it. Outbound meetings generated from cold calls are very different from meetings with referrals, existing clients and inbound enquiries.  Make sure your sales team is well trained on how to run outbound meetings and the art of closing.

Solution: Go on sales calls with your sales team to make sure that they are building rapport and are using the right sales techniques to uncover opportunities, pushing for a sale and following up after the meeting to close the deal.

Ultimately, telemarketing is still an incredibly effective way of reaching new prospects. As long as you are prepared and realistic, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner!

Barbara Freeman

Sales Executive

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