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“In 2012 small businesses need to work harder than ever to win new business and stay alive. Make telemarketing the centre of attention!”

by Will Corry on February 25, 2012 in Lead story, Marketing, Small Business, Startups

“In 2012 small businesses need to work harder than ever to win new business and stay alive. Make telemarketing the centre of attention!” published on www.themarketingblog.co.uk

In the first 3 months of 2011 the Insolvency Service said 2% more firms were liquidated than in 2012.  However, fewer individuals were declared insolvent. Over 4,000 firms were liquidated while over 30,000 individuals were declared insolvent. 

Clearly the world economy is still immensely turbulent and  the forecast for 2012 does not bode well.   Whilst there are many factors that can lead to the decline of any business, many more could survive if they adapted to market conditions and focus their efforts on developing new business. 

Often success against any competitor can be achieved by outselling them.  Sometimes businesses with products of lesser quality or service win because they win the battle of selling  How businesses choose to find new customers can vary considerably, however, what is clear in these tough times is the need for direct communication with potential new customers has never been greater.

As the internet continues to evolve there are many different ways businesses can market their products and services. Whilst large multi-million pound businesses have plenty of marketing budget at their disposal, small businesses have to choose their methods with greater caution. Tangible sales and marketing methods are more valuable than ever, so small businesses have to consider what channels deliver the greatest return. In the majority of cases, big ticket B2B products and services require a direct sales force.

You may have an internal lead generator and a field sales rep working together (if you have the budget) or one individual doing both. Either way it all starts on the phone. Before which you should have worked out who you are targeting and why.   Below are some useful tips for setting up a successful business to business telemarketing program (and we are not simply talking about investing in new business telephone systems):

Pre-calling activity / targeting:

Build a database of the companies you wish to target and find out who the key decision makers are.

Use public resources such as LinkedIn, or search for job titles relative to target companies using leading search engines such as Google. Hopefully you will have business broadband in place to ensure you research happens quickly. There is nothing worse than waiting for pages to load!

You may also look into buying a marketing list. Records can cost as little as 20p per person including email address.

Avoid collecting generic email addresses for certain departments i.e. marketing@companyx.com. Focus on individuals.

If your online research does not prove fruitful call up the reception and ask for the contact. Do not expect everyone to be forthcoming, but it will pay off.

If you can’t find a reception number call the customer services number and ask them. They will usually have a number for you and may even give you the right contact name.

Set yourself some targets and monitor your calling. How many calls to how many contacts? How many contacts to how many meetings? How many meetings to new business signed?

Warm up email:

Ahead of calling, construct an email introducing your business and asking for a meeting. Remember people have little time so make it short and sweet with a punchy heading. Any stats or client quotes will always help.

End the email with a closing questions i.e. ”Would you be free to meet at 10am on Tuesday 29th January? Failing that another time at your convenience?”

The call:

Once you have made contact with the right person ask for help. “I am not sure whether you are the right person but could you possibly help or point me in the right direction?”

Reference your email, ask them whether they have seen it.

Briefly describe what you do and why you are calling.

Ask them a few quick qualifying questions to ensure they are the right person and there is an opportunity worth pursuing.

Focus on getting a meeting. Do not worry too much about trying to close anything, other than a date in the diary. If they want to an in-depth discussion then great, but often they just want to get you off the phone. Use this to your advantage.

Suggest the date and time then and there, and say you will send them an invite straight after.

Reconfirm the meeting the day before you meet.

Regardless of whether you are successful in booking a meeting, always record information about your call. Whether you store this in a contact management system, or simply using excel what matters is its recorded for future reference.

While the above may all seem like common sense to practice it is not so easy. You should always look to refine your approach. Ultimately it is a numbers game and if you put in time and effort you will reap the reward.

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