Is the telephone still a trusted sales tool?

Our phones today are amazing. We use them to take photos, play music, send texts and emails and access social media.

woman holding a smart phone and city night sceneBut is there still a place in the world for the humble telephone call? And when it comes to promoting your business, is your telephone still an effective sales tool?

There is so much conflicting advice about what you should and shouldn’t do, it seems almost impossible to decide which way to go.

I did a quick search on Google for advice. The first article I came across said that cold calling should still be top of your marketing plan, and the next said that it is dead and social media rules supreme.

A bit more searching and I found ‘experts’ who tell you that you should definitely have a set script, it is the only way to ensure a consistent sales pitch. One more search of Google? Never use a script. You should know your target market well enough to be able to speak knowledgeably to your potential clients.

I then looked at the success rates that you could expect to reach. One article almost promised an immediate return on investment, while another suggested that you may have to make hundreds of calls before anyone even speaks to you.

Where does all of this leave you? Well, as is often the case, there is a certain amount of truth in it all – it depends on your business, what you’re selling and the precise campaign.

And that’s why, as with most marketing, the key is in planning ahead. As long as you start with a clear aim for who you are targeting, exactly what it is about your product, service or brand that makes yours the best, and what you want to (realistically) achieve, you can work out which path is going to lead you most directly to success.

Get the best from every call

Prepare. Make sure that your data is clean and up to date, and that you have a relevant sales pitch that makes it obvious that you are worth listening to from the first sentence.

Consider your timings. Don’t be scared to pick up the telephone – in a B2B setting, managers expect to be sold to, and if you are calling consumers directly, plan your campaign carefully so that you aren’t calling during standard mealtimes, or too late or early.

Try and try again. Make sure you factor in busy tones, unavailable numbers and redirects, and don’t expect success in your first call – you may have to make quite a few before you get exactly what you want. But you will get there if you keep going!

Make it personal. Human interaction is still extremely important, particularly when people are making decisions on larger or more complicated purchases. You know yourself that there are still a good number of products and services that you wouldn’t trust completely to online purchasing.

Follow up! If you say you will call back, or send an email or a brochure, make sure you do it as quickly as you can.  And then call again a few days later to check that they received it – lots of sales are lost through not following up on an initial call, and what a shame when you’ve already done the hardest part…

So telesales and telemarketing still have their place in 2016, and can be extremely powerful, as long as you plan, prepare, persevere and follow up.  Go for it, and let 2016 be your biggest year yet!

Karen Cureton

About Karen Cureton

I have always worked in sales ever since a Saturday job in House of Fraser at the age of 14! I now run a sales consultancy based near East Midlands Airport which places me really well to offer training in sales skills, social media and telemarketing, and services for a wide range of clients across the country. I love my wide and varied range of clients and they describe me as perceptive, approachable, efficient and a Geordie who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Find out more at Cureton Consulting

  • Paula Sharratt

    Hi Karen: there’s a generational gap and a technological gap between types of business I think. some businesses, and people, never lift a phone, yet others can’t do without their phones. It’s the same about social media. Some people would never use social media, others do everything on social media. It would be interesting to do the research to find out which Nottinghamshire companies still think that having an internal sales person is good for business….It would be great to hear more of your thoughts, too!