The basics of telephone canvassing

Telephone canvassing can be a great follow up to a direct mail campaign but can also be effective as a stand alone method of marketing your services.

Following up, I’m sure you’ve read time and time again, is the key to successful marketing and selling. Following on from your mail shot or a straight telephone canvassing campaign you will need to record all of your calls to aid future marketing efforts and to avoid future pitfalls. The best way to keep track of this information is with a simple database if you do not have a contact management system such as ACT! or Goldmine. This software allows you to produce mail shots, email campaigns and, more importantly, to record all contact that you have with potentials as well as clients.

Don’t forget the basics of a polite telephone manner especially when making initial contact with a new potential client. Politely introduce yourself and explain why you have called and then ask if it is a convenient time to talk, this immediately places you as a person who thinks about their prospect’s and client’s time and isn’t overly ‘pushy’. If the prospect would prefer that you called back at a more convenient time then make sure you diary the call and make sure that the call is made as promised, this time demonstrating your ability to keep your word and your strong organisational skills.

When conducting your telephone canvassing check with the potential client if this is a service they currently outsource, if so are they happy with their supplier and when this contract will next be up for renewal or review, or if there are any areas this supplier doesn’t fulfil. Make notes of this in your software and schedule an agreed call back date and time if possible. When you make this call at the time agreed you will have demonstrated your ability to honour time scales and shown a pro-active approach to your work.

There are a many skills and techniques associated with telephone canvassing that will help you achieve the results you are looking for. Listen more than you talk, and if the prospect is open to "human" dialogue or small chat this will ease the call, with the potential to open the channels of dialogue. Simple things like if calling on a Friday asking them what they have planned for the coming weekend may give away some clues as to their lives such as watching their team play sport, a child's party or activity etc. Note these in your software so if a follow up call is appropriate in the future you will be able to drop these into your conversation - "I see your team won again last week, did you see the match?" These techniques draw you away from being a salesman trying to make an appointment or close a sale into a human who has an interest in the life of the person they are talking to.

Some people fare better with telephone marketing than others, if this is really not your cup of tea there are many agencies who you can outsource a telephone campaign to. Beware though, their industry knowledge will not be as good as your own and therefore they may not represent your business as well as you would.

There are many places that you can source contact details of people to call including local business directories and the Internet. It is also possible to buy lists of business names and contacts by industry sector and this can often be a quick route into a market sector.

When contacting new potentials or 'cold calling' you must make sure that you do not contravene data protection legislation in the UK. For more information concerning your obligations visit the Telephone Preference Service website.


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