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