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Telephone Sales Basics for Start-ups

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Everyone picks up the telephone to do business. Yet the word "telemarketing" has many negative connotations for people. However, telemarketing is merely a term for conducting business over the telephone. Whenever you pick up the phone at work to make or receive a call you are "a telemarketer". Over the years telemarketing has evolved into the following applications:

1. Business to Consumer

2. Business to Business

Within these classifications, there are two separate functions: inbound and outbound. Inbound is generally thought of as customer service, and outbound is used for sales or surveys. CSR is telemarketing shorthand for Customer Service Representative. TSR is telemarketing shorthand for Telemarketing Sales Representative.

In order to increase response rate, many firms use a combination of direct mail and telemarketing.

Generally the telemarketing call follows the mail piece. If the client or prospect requires additional information, a follow up first class mail piece, fax or email is sent.

A soft sell works best for long term buyer -seller relationships. Each prospect call begins by letting prospects know the organization might be able to solve problems/fill needs. We then ask a series of questions to determine what their situation is and how the products can best help them. The offer is made and we ask for agreement - also known as the close. Rep's are expected to overcome objections and show how close a match the products are to the prospect's needs.

The steps in a sales presentation:

1. Opening

2. Offer

3. Trial Close

4. Objections

5. Close

Most Telemarketing units use a "script", a written, planned presentation. Actually, all salespeople use planned presentations; but as no one can see the telemarketer, these can be written down. A good script is used as a guideline as opposed to a verbatim speech. The presentation should inject some of the rep's personality and be flexible enough to personalize each call.

During the course of an "average" day a Telephone Sales Rep will:

? Dial the telephone 200 times

? Reach voice mail 80 times (out of 200)

? Reach a decision maker to make a presentation 20 times (out of 200)

Telemarketing is no longer the stepchild of company's marketing efforts, in many cases telemarketing has become the focal point for dynamic expansion. As the cost of field sales endeavors continues to rise, more and more firms are using telemarketing to cost effectively increase their business. In 1988, US News and World Reports published a report citing 8 million telemarketing jobs by the year 2000. At a time when most telemarketing employment seemed to be part time (targeted for housewives, students and retirees)or hard sell boiler rooms, this number seemed tremendous.

Today when most telemarketing positions, particularly in the business to business arena, are being held by experienced full time professionals, perhaps 8 million just scratches the surface.

Jo Ann Kirby is president of KRG Communications Group. She has 20 years experience in sales, telephone sales and sales management and an extensive background in training and development. Her background also includes extensive b2b telesales management experience. Jo Ann has been published in The Toastmaster, NAPPS Network and Commerce magazines. More can be found at

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