Telemarketing services are growing in popularity; however, it is safe to say that there are more and more telemarketing programs that are also failing to meet expectations.
The following are 10…okay maybe 12… of the most common reasons that telemarketing programs fail.
1. Not Establishing a Goal
More and more people are returning to the telemarketing services industry to capitalize on a direct marketing tool with a proven rate of success. However, many do so without first really looking at what their ROI needs to be and how many sales or leads then need to generate in order to hit their ROI. Understanding these numbers are absolutely key to any and all telemarketing campaigns.
One of the secondary problems that may result with the selection of goals results in designing the program around untested goals, or goals that may essentially be too high-- resulting in a poor test periods. It is important to make sure that your goals are realistic and that telemarketing service providers can meet these expectations. Talking to several different telemarketing service providers should help to ensure that enough telemarketing providers agree with the program’s concept to assume it can be successful.
2. Not Understanding the Data
Telemarketing services can be one of the most intensive forms of data driven direct marketing. Using telemarketing services also means that just by calling potential customers agents are going to gather massive amounts of data. Outside of just the leads generated through telemarketing services there are numerous amounts of non-sales data that can be extremely valuable when looking at what can be successful with customers. One simple example is adding a refusal list to every calling campaign. Look at it this way; there are 8-50 different refusals per sale, depending on the difficulty of the offer. Each of those refusals has more than likely provided agents with a reason for their decline. These reasons can vary greatly but they offer an opportunity to understand what potential customers are looking for as well as an indication on how to remarket certain leads. For example, maybe they are looking for a more cost effective solution or they will not be in the market for another year. This offers an open opportunity for a lower priced solution as well as a time frame on when it may be best to target them.
3. Selecting a Telemarketing Service Provider Based Only on Price
Let’s face it, cost can be everything, and every dollar spent is a dollar taken off of the overall profit. The extra money being spent is only a problem when it does not improve the overall results of the telemarketing services campaign. Lower priced telemarketing services providers often lower their costs so they can recoup them in other areas. Some are lower because of the region they live in. Rural call centers or centers located in medium-sized cities can afford a lower wage rate and still retain the same quality telemarketing services agent. Other groups may give the agents a larger portion of the overall cost but at the same time they may cut other areas such as training, motivation, supervision and quality assurance. It is important to make sure all areas of your program are diligently covered.
4. Moving the Program Overseas
This is not just coming from someone who works in the telemarketing services industry; this is coming from a person who is constantly frustrated by inbound and outbound telemarketing service efforts from people whom I cannot understand. At this point there is general understanding about offshore telemarketing service agencies, "If you can lose the customers--save the money," "If you cannot afford to lose your customers-- keep your telemarketing service program onshore." If you do not believe me take a close look at what happened to Dell (News
) computers when they outsourced.
5. Relying Completely on Scripting
The telemarketing services industry has a large number of diversified employees doing the same thing hundreds of times over and over each day. They should be pretty good at it but there are shortcomings from time to time. In addition, because telemarketing services rely solely on the communication between two people, and people can be as unpredictable as they are predictable, it can be nearly impossible to have a proper response for every situation that arises on the phone. Telemarketing services customers can often have two very different approaches to the idea of scripting, one customer may look at scripting everything---scripts with 8-20 pages, and then an additional 75-100 of rebuttals or statements to say after an objection, and some may even look to have all of the potential statements listed on screen, creating massive amounts of agent searching while on the phone. Others may look to train agents in the hopes that they are prepared to give the correct response in certain incidents that may arise on the phone. The best practice for this process is a combination of both. Having the right materials in front of an agent is one thing and having the rebuttal process on screen is great as well. However, it is safe to say that all of the time spent searching for rebuttals and delivering the right response can detract from the conversation. Having a reference tool and the ability for agents to modify these responses though constant up training and agent development is the best way to ensure agents give the right answers at the right time to the right customers.
6. Choosing Only Regional Vendors
This is a problem that can often lead to choosing a vendor that is less qualified simply out of proximity. The reality is that being close to a telemarketing service provider is not going to make the program any more effective or productive. In fact, having a long standing presence with the group may make it more difficult to operate with them. Telemarketing services can be preformed from anywhere in the world. Dealing with someone locally at first may be a good initially but when it comes to the final ROI that choice may haunt you.
7. Not Visiting the Telemarketing Service Provider
Sometimes a quick look at a telemarketing vendor that you are looking at working with can make all the difference. Are they really running with a 10:1 agent to supervisor ratio? Do they really have agents that are older and mature who have made a career out of the telemarketing industry or do they have high school students that are ready to call your customers. Also, this is a great chance to look at the environment where the calling is being done. It can allow for a 1 on 1 visit with the agents that are going to be working on the program. Finally, perhaps the most crucial is a face value understanding of the everyday activities of the telemarketing services provider. This understanding is crucial for future working relationships with your outsourced telemarketing services provider.
8. Improper Set-Up Materials
The telemarketing services provider that is going to be dialing your telemarketing program needs to have the right materials in order to design your program for telemarketing. Making sure the program is ready from day one is one of the best ways to ensure that the program will have the best success. Data processes both back and forth as well as the data structure should be established right away. In addition, the quality and training processes can be established at this point so they are not done at the last minuet before dialing begins.
9. Not Taking the Time to Understand the IT Department
Call it what you like, IT, IS computer geeks, it does not matter, just make sure they know they what they do, and how they do it. From late reports to poor dialing algorithms, an incompetent IT department can significantly reduce the success of a telemarketing campaign. In addition, a remote IT department can delay much of the activities that need to be completed or communicated in order to ensure the program success.
10. Not Following Do Not Call
At this point, it is most likely an obvious statement to say that it is important to make sure your telemarketing program is compliant with all Federal and State Do Not Call Laws. With so many programs dialing these days and so many companies being fined for illegal telemarketing, it is clear people do not have a good understanding of the telemarketing laws that are being passed. Make sure to research the legalities of your telemarketing services program before it is dialed.
....Alright, I will throw in two more examples for free….
11. Not paying Attention to Quality Assurance
In addition, make sure to have a clear understanding of the goals and practices of the quality assurance department. Quality Assurance processes can make or break the backend of a program. Quality Assurance should ensure each sale made or lead generated is verified for accuracy and acceptance. If this is not done, chances are many of the sales and leads that have been telemarketed will not end up paying, will be charged back, will drop out early, or waste a sales person’s time.
In addition, it is important to see what QA is doing to improve the sales results by working with agents. Quality Assurance should be working with each sales agent at least once every 24 hours, monitoring them and then creating a performance report. This constant push to make sure that telemarketing agents are improving is the only way to ensure that a telemarketing program is going to be successful.
12. Not Watching the Results of the Backend
Many groups who use telemarketing look only at the front end of a program and what the telemarketing group generated in sales or leads. However, they often ignore the payout rate of these customers or the dropout rate. Sometimes they even ignore the conversion rates with sales agents when generating leads. The bottom line here is that companies need to watch the results of what happens to the generated sales. If the dropout rate or conversion rate is low, then it is most likely a result of poor quality assurance and agent’s pushing for sales. If the customer provides a credit card and they sign up for a continuity program but drop out after the first month, it is most likely a result of agents not explaining enough. High return rates can also be a symptom of this problem. Pulling a random sample recording file is a great way to make sure that all of the calling is done correctly and that sales are being properly verified.
Essentially, there are thousands of ways a telemarketing campaign can fail. Much the same as there are thousands of ways a direct mail piece can fail and millions of ways anything online can fail. Choosing a quality telemarketing services provider should be the most important part of the telemarketing process. Even choosing a good consultant to help with the telemarketing campaign may be a more profitable way to ensure success.
Mark Swanson is Director of Business Development at Tele Resources, Inc.