Why don’t telemarketers ask questions?
Telemarketers love to talk. And, generally, it isn’t always because they are happy go lucky people
that love their jobs and the businesses they represent. It’s often because they are nervous and are
struggling to keep the seller-buyer conversation going on the phone. It’s also perhaps that they are
poorly trained and forget that the buyers are only interested in themselves, their problems and
opportunities and not in what the telemarketer has to say.
Too busy taking and not enough time listening is the point. I watched this wonderful TED talk video
by Celeste Headlee last week about ‘how to have a better conversation’ that almost stopped me in
my tracks. Over the years, I’ve always taught telemarketers how to engage on the telephone. I’ve
taught them rapport skills, communication skills, how to capture the attention of the decision
maker, and listening techniques like how to make use of nods, ums and ahs to demonstrate listening
and so on. And, according to their video, it’s all hogwash.
Of course, the techniques are still good and valid. But, and it’s a big BUT, the point is that the
problem that telemarketers have is that, in the main, they don’t care. They’re not genuinely engaged
in the conversation. And, if they were engaged they wouldn’t need most of the ‘forced’ techniques.
Let me explain. All too often, telemarketers just spew out lots of information about their products
and services, their company, what they offer and so on. If the prospect does manage to get a word
in, the telemarketer interrupts and resumes their patter for another few minutes and on it goes.
Typically, the flow of conversation between seller and buyer should be skewed towards the buyer.
Let the buyer talk. Don’t crowd them. Don’t dominate. Don’t make them feel like they’re being hit
with a high power jet wash. That’s what telemarketers, at least the less effective ones, often do.
They talk and talk at the prospect trying to explain what a great solution they have for their
Maybe it’s because they’re so excited about their services? At least I hope that’s why they do it. Or
maybe it’s just because they don’t know how undertake effective telemarketing. Either way, if
telemarketers actually took the time to be genuinely interested in their prospects, they would
succeed more often. That means not entering the conversation with some pre-conceived notion of
what you want to shoehorn into the discussion.
No, I understand that telemarketers are eager to close the deal. But, when was the last time you
enjoyed being talked at for ages at an event or party only for the other person to walk away at the
end of the conversation without asking anything about you, your business or your life? How did that
make you feel? You probably felt that they were rude and not interested in you. So, why do
telemarketers insist on taking that approach and talking at their prospects incessantly without asking
many, or any, questions?
Telemarketers need to learn to ask good questions. Not because they have to. But, because they
should be interested in what their prospects do. They should be concerned about the challenges the
prospect has and how to really help them. Above all, they should be engaged in a conversation not a
monologue or presentation. If they demonstrate genuine interest, they will win create more
opportunities and win more business since they will engender more trust. And, they will be more
likely to have more buyer conversations in the first place.
So, if you’re tasked with making outbound telemarketing call, stop trying to plan your next sentence
while the buyer is speaking. Stop interrupting. Let them finish. Ask pertinent questions that elicit
good responses. But, above all, be present. Stop being distracted. Stop distracting yourself. Turn off
outside stimuli (email, phone, LinkedIn etc). If you concentrate, you won’t have to demonstrate that
you’re engaged in a conversation, you will do it naturally. In a sales scenario, it will help you stand
out from the crowd and help you win more business.
GSA helps businesses, large and small, become more effective in their marketing and business development. We run outbound telemarketing campaigns into the UK, Europe and further afield. Also, with our experience, we provide telemarketing training to help sales teams improve their results. If you’d like to know more, give us a call.