Telemarketing is tough. It can be a thankless task. Yet, callers are often at the sharp end of B2B sales. They represent the company and its brand. Their role is to unearth high-value opportunities for the sales team to close. And, in some cases, they’re asked to close the sale on the phone themselves. Whilst there are many different outcomes that a telemarketer may be asked to deliver, one thing is for sure, it’s not easy. But, are telemarketers born or made? How much can training make the difference between a good caller and a bad one?
Rejection is Par for the Course
Telemarketers can get a lot of rejection. That can be hard work. Cold calling is sometimes perceived as the poor relation of most marketing and burn out can occur. Poor telesales techniques used with PPI and double glazing have also given the industry a bad name and restrictions around opt outs and so on are there for a reason. Hence, the role isn’t seen as something for everyone.
So, why would anyone want to make cold calls for a living? I used to be asked that question about a career choice in retail sales when I ran the retail operation for a luxury goods company. And we were at the high end. Yet customers can be difficult, demanding and downright rude. You’re need to be on your toes, and it can sometimes be lowly paid and reliant on commission.
Good Telemarketers are Worth their Weight in Gold
I was surprised, when I first went to the USA on business some years back, that the picture as far as retail is concerned is very different. The retail staff I met generally felt more valued and they saw it as more of a career than in the UK. The good sales guys were very good, and really enjoyed their work. And, surprise surprise, they were the ones that sold the most and earned the most commission. Now, I accept that selling differs dependent on the location, store, product and so on. Of course, it isn’t as much fun to sell widgets in a small store as it is to sell luxury handbags for Chanel. Or is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
Belief Comes First
It’s the same for telemarketing. If we stick to on-shore selling for a moment, as opposed to callers out of India or the Philippines, it’s true that some view outbound calling as a challenge while others see it as a chore. Some have a naturally sunny personality, well-suited to sales, while others are more reserved. There is a degree of self-selection in selling. Perhaps those with more energy and a positive mental attitude gravitate towards the role. Sadly though, when I run training, I see an overwhelming majority of callers that are simply not like that. Somehow, they’ve found themselves in the role.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you sell as long as you believe in the company, and in the intrinsic value of what you’re selling. Belief is a powerful motivator. You can sell b2b or b2c. You can sell funeral plans or insurance or PPI or you can promote high value tech solutions into the FTSE 100 or Fortune 500. They have very differing dynamics and requirements and levels of complexity. The level and style of calling suits different individuals. Peer to peer selling is key. People respond to different stimuli and ultimately people buy from people they like and trust. So, it’s important to try to match the caller with the nature of the campaign.
Match the Caller to the Campaign
In the reverse sense, a market trader style telemarketer (not suggesting anything wrong with this especially as personality counts for a lot), will probably gain better results on more volume oriented campaigns at a lower level. That’s versus a campaign where there might only be 100 companies to target and the gestation period from interest to sale could be years. It takes a different type of animal to endure a long-term slow-burn campaign as opposed to the buzz of a fast paced all-action multiple sale activity.
Whilst we’ve spoken a lot about the type of campaign, we haven’t actually answered the question. Are telemarketers born or made? It’s like asking if footballers are born with natural talent. There are superstars alongside solid professionals who don’t sparkle but are a key part of the team. Clearly, expectations will be different.
Personality is Paramount
I think it’s almost certainly true that, from an early age, people come in all shapes and sizes, personality types and have certain natural abilities. Some are shy. Some are outgoing. Some are natural magnets for others and some sit in the background. Some love to chat and others prefer to sit back and listen while others take the lead.
Inevitably, not all skills are innate though. Our background, schooling and out of school activities and experiences further refine our knowledge and skills. Training telemarketers to be effective will inevitably add to their ability to deliver over time. But attitude and personality are critical factors for success. Energy powers momentum. Without those traits, no matter what input is provided, they’re destined to fail. Are those learned or bred? It’s hard to say, and I’m no psychologist. But I imagine it’s part nature and part nurture.
So, if you want to find telemarketers that will do a good job, what do you do? The answer is to find someone with a great personality, a positive attitude and someone that is open and willing to listen and learn. Then you’ll likely be onto a winner!
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