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Telemarketing and Internet Marketing: A One-Two Punch Combo?

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Telemarketing and Internet Marketing - A One-Two Punch Combo

Marketing over the phone has for a number of years earned a bad reputation amongst those who consider the tactic as a source of annoyance. On the other hand, internet marketing is just in its blooming phase, and no one knows how much bigger it would blow up in the next decades.

What if telemarketing and internet marketing were molded into one?

Using web presence to generate lists for telemarketing can breathe fresh air into outdated call lists and help businesses regain a relevant target. Together, they make a powerful team.

But before we get excited, let’s weigh the pros and cons of merging the two tactics:

Pros:

  • Relevance. People who have explicitly expressed interest in a subject are a more promising candidate for telemarketing than a cold list of contacts. Depending on the type of response elicited and where it was placed, marketers can define the list around relevant audience characteristics.
  • Consent to call. Marketers can pre-structure a web platform to include permissions to make follow-up calls to help trounce legal restrictions and customer elusiveness.
  • Fresh data.  Information gathered from online responses can contribute to new data, most of which are often not available from public directories.
  • Faster interaction. If it’s necessary to make a lead “lukewarm” before a telephone call, a conversation can easily be established online using social media platforms or conference applications.

Cons:

  • Limited shelf life. A response to a specific offer or subject matter may be very time-sensitive. The more time that passes before a follow call is made, the colder the lead will become.
  • Inaccurate info. Because online responses are mostly made up of self-reported data, they become highly prone to inaccuracies and may greatly affect the quality of leads.
  • Time and manpower. Obviously it would take a certain number of people to scour the web for potential clients not to mention interacting with them on a personal level. Doing that can eat up a lot of hours, too.
  • Quantity can be overwhelming. The power of the internet is immense. Depending on the platform to be used, the number of responses may become too great that it makes qualifying a more difficult task, more so when there is, again, lack of manpower and time.

So what do you think? As promising as it sounds, do you think your team will be able to pull it off? Remember, when generating more leads is your priority, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out new things, let alone give it consideration.

Lesson in B2B Telemarketing: Be in Command

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Whether you’re part of an internal marketing team tasked to perform cold-calling prospects or you’re the team leader of an outsourced telemarketing services company, the agenda is constant: lead generation.

However, this process doesn’t just involve a handful of telemarketers poring over a list of decision-makers. The overall campaign is typically orchestrated by a number of pertinent people, such as marketing manager, a quality assurance analyst, a sales coach, an account manager, and of course, the client itself.

The presence (and sometimes, direct involvement) of these people can affect the flow of control a telemarketer has over his or her own cold-calling strategy.

Depending on the nature of the campaign, the “big bosses” can often dictate a certain preferred approach to cold-calling which they think is best for the task at hand. The problem is that there are times when these directions are not suited to the telemarketer’s style or the type of target market. This causes a disconnection between the perceived solution and the actual situation.

For instance, your client, the CEO of a vendor of IT products and services, thinks that a perky, feature-oriented approach to prospects is the best way to go. However, you, as the telemarketer, learn that being perky is actually inappropriate when talking to tech-savvy people such as IT Managers and Chief Technology Officers, and that being feature-oriented is counter-productive, since they are natural experts of their respective fields.

That puts you in sticky situation wherein you have to follow a client directive and sacrifice the quality of your calls. Or, you could, if you choose to, disregard the coaching and go for what you think is suitable.

Being in command doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to choose between the two. All you need is to be assertive in letting superiors (and other concerned people) know that your perspective is more valid that theirs, since you’re the one who’s actually on the phones talking to prospects.

Without exercising this power, it would be a lose-lose situation, as you would fail in your telemarketing efforts and your client, too, will not get the desired numbers. For some campaigns to be successful, certain traditions need to be broken and necessary adjustments must be made.

Again, it all boils down to communication. As long as there is an open line between you and those who are overseeing the campaign, everyone would be on the same page and the operation will run smoothly and productively.

Four Guidelines In Improving Your B2B Telemarketing

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Four Guidelines In Improving Your B2B Telemarketing

B2B telemarketing is here to stay, there is no doubt about it. You have to accept this fact if you want to be totally prepared for the challenges of generating qualified B2B leads. The problem with this kind marketing medium would be the negative outlook that people give it, which is something that could not be avoided. Considering the past performance (and over-aggressiveness) of B2B lead generation teams that used this medium, you can safely say that a lot of people are not happy with this. But you can make this better. You can improve this medium. What you need to do is to understand its nature and make it work to your advantage. Now that is the challenging part. How will you make that happen? Well, here is how you do it:

  1. Review old plans – sometimes, the most brilliant marketing solutions can be the ones that failed you in the past. Reminds me of Zenith Corporation, who were among the pioneers in Hi-Def television. The problem here is that the time was the 1980’s. People are not exactly interested in owning an HD television then. That resulted to the company to fold up. But look at today’s market, where HD TV’s are the king.
  2. Focus on the results, not on the author – you see, some of us take pride in the sales leads plans that we have thought of, and that is not a bad idea at all. The problem here is when we take it too seriously and use as some sort of cudgel during our marketing meeting. Now that is not a good idea at all. If you want your team to be successful, get everyone in as team players. Focus more on getting results, not on who created the best plans or whatever. That would be a more productive practice.
  3. Consider timing – while some would think that a marketing plan is a failure because it did not live up to expectations, others would ask if the timing for it was right. For example, you wanted to do a telemarketing campaign for winter time tourist destinations, but you offered it during the winter season itself. While there is nothing really wrong about selling in advance, would it not be more practical to offer it to your prospects at summer time? You do not have to think much about it.
  4. Always improve – that is the one rule that every marketer must remember. Markets change over time and the tools needed for it must adapt to these changes quickly as well. You know just how important that would be if you start losing B2B leads while still using the same marketing strategy. You have to change it, and you have to change it for the better. That is how you survive this highly competitive business environment. 

There are other things that you have to remember to keep your B2B telemarketing campaigns as profitable as ever, but if you can follow these pointers, then you would be in a good spot.

The Most Essential Rule in Telemarketing: Acknowledge your Prospect

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The Most Essential Rule in Telemarketing - Acknowledge your Prospect

We often overlook the importance of capturing the real meaning behind what other people say. For instance, when a wife tells her husband that she’s “tired of her job”, the husband immediately tries to solve the problem by saying “You should quit” or “Get another job”. The thing is, that isn’t what the wife was trying to say.

Or when a kid tells his Mom that he doesn’t want to go to school, the Mom right away concludes that the kid was being lazy or irresponsible, but failed to capture the real possibilities – perhaps he’s sick or being bullied at school?

It’s also a basic problem in telemarketing. When a prospect says “I’m just going around the market looking for good Managed IT services, but we’re not going to get one just yet”, a typical telemarketer would say “Great! Let me discuss to you some features I’m sure you’d love”, and then he’d go straight into details and technicalities.

Three Traits of All Remarkable Marketers

What he missed is to acknowledge what the prospect really had just said. Although he was “going around the market”, he clearly stated that they are “not going to get one just yet”. A good telemarketer should have at least acknowledged the fact that the prospect is just shopping for information.

A good response would have been: “I understand that you’re still in the early stages of your decision making. Allow me to provide what you need to know to make it easier for you.”The advantage of using that statement is that it makes the prospect feel understood. He is assured that he will not be pushed for a decision because the telemarketer is aware that he’s not buying today.

A telemarketer should also know how to explore and read between the lines. In the scenario given, the prospect said that he was “looking for good Managed IT services”. However, one’s definition of “good” is very subjective, especially for a business. If his company is running short on budget, “good” may refer to a service that’s very affordable. On the other hand, if money is not an issue, then “good” is equated to quality, which means he may be willing to acquire a service despite of a high price.

It would be a grave mistake for a telemarketer to immediately jump into conclusion and assume what his prospect’s priorities are without even probing or analyzing his words. Rather than quickly transitioning to the sales pitch, the telemarketer should have responded with acknowledgment, such as “I hear what you’re saying – we all need to seek what’s best for our business. Tell me, what exactly is your basis for a good IT service?”

If you were the prospect, wouldn’t that sound heavenly to your ears?

The art of acknowledgment requires discipline – you have to resist the urge of jumping into an opportunity as soon as you see it. Breathe. Take time to acknowledge. It’s worth the effort, you’ll see, for it can help you determine what your prospect really needs, instead of having your sales pitch scatter all over the place without really hitting your mark.

Handling Telemarketing Calls With Business Executives

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Handling Telemarketing Calls With Business Executives

All right, after a successful B2B telemarketing call to business executives, you end up with a meeting with them. Now, a business meeting with potential sales leads may not have to be in person. It could take many forms, like another telephone call, a video conversation, email, or perhaps a myriad of other things that marketers do these days. What never changes, despite all this variety in B2B appointment setting, is the process of actually discussing business with your prospects. You have to know where to start, as well as figure out what you need to do before, during, and after meeting with your prospects. That can spell all the difference in your marketing campaign. So, how will you do that?

  1. Do your research – before you meet with your business prospects, you need to do your homework with regards to their interests. Study their industry, the kind of markets they serve, what products and services they offer, as well as the problems they face. You just cannot step inside the office and speak things at the top of your head. That would be a real disaster waiting to happen.
  2. Never assume they know you – many a failed business meeting with prospective B2B leads can be traced to the simple assumption that the prospects already know you and your business. Be graceful enough to introduce yourself and your company. Help them connect your name to your business, and then go straight to the point.
  3. Present proof of credibility – once the meeting has started, you should show your prospects proof that you know your business. Focus on the problems that these executives face in their business. Try not to sell them anything yet, nor focus on the features and benefits that your solution provides. This will give them more reason to trust you.
  4. Ask intelligent questions – you see, asking a question, and asking the right question, are two very different things. The former will indicate that you do not know anything about your prospect’s problems. The latter shows your intelligence and that you are determined to find the right solution to their problems. It will not take you much to figure out which one will work.
  5. Talk less and listen more – when you are in a business meeting with B2B lead generation prospects, you should take this as an opportunity to learn more about them. You should talk, when you have to talk, but leave most of the talking to them. Surely, they have a lot to say about their business and what they need.
  6. Put value in your talk – you should be able to add something to the business discussion, something new and intangible that your prospects would want to hear about. It may not seem that much to you, but business executives value that.
  7. Conclude the talk – whether you have closed the deal with them at this point, or if you need to have more discussion, you should have this ironed-out during your current meeting. Be clear and concise with the details.

Once you mastered these steps, it would be easier for you and your lead generation team to handle business executives in a meeting.

The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 3 – Animation

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The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 3 - Animation

For every process there is a culmination. It’s the zenith of all the patience, persistence, and perseverance that transpired during your efforts in achieving your goal. In the context of telemarketing, the culmination is the part where an appointment is set, or a lead has been generated.

But right between the middle and end parts of the call, there’s a phase where the telemarketer would shift its focus from the prospect to the sales pitch. That’s usually a very difficult transition to carry out, especially when the foundation of trust and confidence is not that strong.

That part reminds the prospect that he is indeed engaged in a sales call and the pitch is naturally inevitable. If the telemarketer is unable to smoothly and swiftly make that transition, the mission would be compromised, and the conversation will end up as nothing more than a chit chat.

So how do you effectively transition from attention to animation?

First, drop the “sales pitch”.

“A ‘pitch’ typically conjures up images of a one-way presentation, with the salesperson talking at a prospect, which is not the effective way to sell,” says Art Sobczak, President of BusinessByPhone.com. After listening to the prospect regarding their company’s needs and wants, it’s your turn to “animate” the situation by offering to help them.

Avoid generic statements.

Make sure that in describing how your product or service works, include the things that the prospect mentioned, to make it sound like it was specifically designed for them. For instance, instead of saying a generic statement like “Our portal solution is the recognized leader in efficient user experience”, address specific concerns by saying, “Our portal solution can reduce your user-experience woes by implementing an integrated sign-on system and synthesized log-in portals.”

You need to make them feel that what you’re offering is a recommendation, and not a sales pitch. By using their own words and language, describe to them how your product or service can directly address specific aspects of the challenges they mentioned earlier. By doing that, they would immediately see the benefits. It will also facilitate in convincing them to agree to an appointment or give out their pertinent information.

And lastly, don’t forget to add a little sauce to your dish by patting a prospect’s back after a successful conversation. Let them know that their decision to consider your product or service was a brilliant move, and it shall not be a subject of regret. Make them feel appreciated and express your excitement towards future interactions. Thank them for their time, and end the call on a pleasant note.

The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 2: Attention

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The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 2 - Attention

If you ask people to list down what they think are the qualities of a good telemarketer, they would probably include things like energetic, argumentative, persuasive, persistent, good talker, has a pleasant voice, warm and friendly, and professionally articulate.

A few, if not none, would include traits like keen observer, empathetic, and a good listener.

That’s because the standard persona of a telemarketer (or anyone involved in sales and marketing, for that matter) is someone who “controls” a conversation with a prospect. It is somewhat expected that the telemarketer would do all the convincing and selling, and then wait for a yes or a no, and that’s it.

Prospects should not lie at the mercy of telemarketers – it should be the other way around.

The flow of the conversation should be dictated by the one who ultimately has the power to take things to the next level, and that power is never rested on telemarketers. The decision comes from the prospects; therefore they should be listened to, not imposed upon.

This is how a telemarketing call should go:

  1. Telemarketer introduces self and company
  2. Telemarketer asks permission to discuss things, prospect agrees
  3. Telemarketer asks probing questions
  4. Prospects answer, may elaborate freely, while telemarketer listens
  5. Telemarketer acknowledges concerns, offers help
  6. Prospect asks questions, telemarketer answers
  7. Telemarketer offers appointment, prospect agrees
  8. Telemarketer thanks prospect, ends call

As you can see, the progress of a call relies greatly on prospects. If they respond negatively to any of these stages, then the call will fail. Telemarketers should aim to serve prospects, not overpower them. Prospects deserve attention, and to do that, there must be sincerity.

Most of us don’t really listen. Sometimes we just hear words, and if we do listen, we’re often just waiting for the other person to finish talking so we could be the one to talk. We often crave for our friends to listen to us, not realizing that we ourselves never lend our ears to them.

The greatest mistake a telemarketer could do is to dismiss whatever the prospect has just said. Some telemarketers respond with something completely unrelated, or repeat something that’s already been settled. Why? Because they don’t listen, and they’re too preoccupied with how they’re going to deliver their pitch.

How to Lose a Prospect in 5 Minutes: The Ultimate Disaster Guide for Telemarketers

According to forbes.com, here are some of the ways to give proper attention by listening:

  • Be attentive, but relaxed.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
  • Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
  • Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
  • Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
  • Pay attention to what isn’t said.

It’s a simple give and take relationship. If prospects feel that you’ve given them the attention they deserve, they’d be more open to consider what you have to say in the end. That makes it easier for you to better understand your prospect, establish a relationship and achieve your goals.

The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 1: Attitude

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The Triple A of Telemarketing, Article 1 - Attitude

One of the major points of emphasis in telemarketing training sessions is the fact that prospects do not see the telemarketer they’re talking to. That’s for agents to realize that since their voices are the only representation of their personality, it’s very important to keep a pleasant attitude at all times.

The Six Telemarketing Prospects You Meet

People have a general idea of bad attitude, and it’s almost common across most cultures. It can be born out of a recent bad experience, a sudden realization of worthlessness, a feeling of discomfort towards a particular place, person or situation, or perhaps something much deeper. But despite of its “subconscious” nature, an attitude is still, at the end of the day, a simple mental process.

Can we control our attitude towards something?

That’s a yes, according to Chris Widener, a New York Times and Wall Street best-selling business author and speaker (chriswidener.com). Widener said that even though we do not control the circumstances around us, we can choose how we perceive and feel about them. Ultimately, the choice of a right attitude would open up new and better circumstances.

If you go to work despising the fact that you have to suffer for 8 hours, will people attempt to have a chat with you or sit beside you during lunch? Probably not. But if you spend those 8 hours with a contagiously positive attitude, things happen around you and opportunities are drawn towards your existence.

The Three Steps To Communicate Well In Lead Generation

Attitude in Telemarketing

You don’t need to see one’s face or observe one’s actions to make an assessment – you can draw an impression from the choice of words, the way sentences are structured, the timing of pauses, the indistinct sounds, and most importantly, the tone of voice.

Prospects almost recognize immediately if a telemarketer possesses a certain unpleasant attitude over the phone. It’s something that can be as explicit as a sound, but can also be as subtle as a gut feeling. Going into a call with a negative attitude can spell doom for a telemarketer. Attitude affects the way spiels are delivered, questions are answered, and objections are handled.

So how do you do it?

Stay healthy and well rested. In order for your mind and body to function stress-free, you need to have sufficient time to rest before you start calling people.

Contemplate on your job. Being a telemarketer involves several goals – both qualitative and quantitative. Take time to look at your level of satisfaction in performing your tasks, your plans of execution, and what rewards you will get if you succeed.

Avoid complaining. Every time you feel like whining about bad stuff happening around you, pause for a while, take a deep breath, and gradually let go of the negative thought and focus on the good stuff.

Smile. Before you pick up that phone, think about the things that make you happy, and make it a goal to share that attitude with whoever you’re going to talk to. If you start and end something with a happy face, you have nothing to lose.

Generating Sales Leads: Why Questions need to be Open-Ended

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Generating Sales Leads Why Questions need to be Open-Ended

One of the most basic tasks of professional telemarketers is to uncover information from prospective clients that may lead into business opportunities- in short, sales leads. But along with that task of lead generation is to also maintain an atmosphere of openness and trust, which deviates from the usual, transactional and heartless survey-esque style of telemarketing. Leading them into a cyclone of inquiries and not letting them talk much may have them lose attention and eventually lose interest with the call.

The opening spiels and introductions are usually harmless. What could be detrimental to the success of the telemarketing call are the questions that follow. Asking wrong (or too many) questions may force  clients to end the conversation. If they do decide not to end it, oftentimes they’d just refuse to give out anything.

So the goal is clear: Earn their trust. Avoid the survey style of questioning.

And how do surveys usually sound? A barrage of yes-or-no questions.

Business-to-business (B2B) Outbound Telemarketing and Lead Generation require skills in questioning and extracting information. The way to make them perceive the call as a normal conversation is to engage them to do the talking. Obviously, close-ended questions won’t give them much liberty to expound on specific aspects of the answer they would have. To make them respond predictably and systematically only eliminates the “personal” touch of the dialogue and kills the momentum that’s needed to sustain the life of the conversation. Instead, ask open-ended questions, like “How does your current IT operation work?” or “What services do you need in your next campaign?” Sometimes, even non-questions could work, as long as they allow the prospect to elaborate certain details, like “Tell me about the challenges you’ve had in your department.”

Although telemarketers need to obtain specific information from prospects (statistics, dates, technical details), engaging them in a meaningful exchange of words is still worth the distance and can benefit on the bigger picture. For one, prospects would feel comfortable and not feel harassed. Letting them vent their opinions and grievances can make them feel appreciated and important. This established relationship may be very useful in the future, especially in Appointment Setting. Also, one would find that a thorough discussion may elicit more information than expected, because it involves personal perspective and emotions. By earning their trust, they will often offer the information that was targeted in the first place, and it will have been done without sounding like an interrogating robot.

That is why these days, Outsourced Telemarketing service providers now focus on “humanizing” the telemarketing experience. Companies assign the task to external professional companies to do their telemarketing for them, which are dedicated to generate quality leads and appointments. Aside from training their agents to be product-competent and articulate, they also make sure that they know howto “talk like human beings” and go as far as befriending prospective clients. And open-ended questions are the first step to revolutionizing the telemarketer’s tarnished facade. By now putting more emphasis on the person rather than on the business, they’re not that bad to talk to.

The Ten Steps To A Better Telemarketing Agent

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The Ten Steps To A Better Telemarketing Agent

Let us face it, we will have to use telemarketing, in one way or another. Be it in appointment setting or in phone surveys, there will times that a phone call is precisely what we need in the course of our marketing campaigns. We just have to know how to best maximize its rate of success. You see, when it comes to this marketing tool, the people involved can be the biggest factor in its success or failure. How you pull that off will depend on how you help your marketers become better in this medium.

True, there are plenty of ways to achieve your goals, but as long as you observe these ten basic pointers, then you are good to go:

  1. Ask their opinion about their call – this will encourage them to open up and tell you what they think they did in the call. If they tell you to tell them what you think, answer that this is an internal exercise for them.
  2. Give them good feedback – a responsible lead generation manager would praise his agents for a job well done, and is also quick to point out learning opportunities they can work on together.
  3. Make sure the other party understands your lectures – we often fall to the mistake of talking too much about how your agents can improve, without actually checking if they really got what you are saying.
  4. Help solve whatever problems your agents face – once you know where they weak in, or where they are having problems, you can use it as a learning point in their training.
  5. Provide them your own version of the solution – in case the solution they had in mind is not the optimal one, this is the part where you add your two cents and provide them the right answer.
  6. Seek agreement – once you have discussed with your agent the merits of both his and your solutions to generating more B2B leads, try seeking common ground with them on this goal.
  7. Practice makes perfect – you see, to really check if they got what you are saying, doing a little practice run on your campaign would be an excellent idea. See if they have integrated all those suggested improvement that the two of you have worked on.
  8. Stick with the changes – you and your agent should stick to the plan in order to see if it will succeed or not. Set a deadline or a scheduled follow-up to see its effectiveness.
  9. Give encouragements – these little acts of acknowledging what they are doing can be a pretty good motivational factor for them to keep working. You should not take that lightly.
  10. Do some follow-ups – once the task you needed done or the changes you wanted are implemented, check the progress of your agent’s work. This will help you determine whether your discussions with them have borne fruit.

These are little, yet effective, ways to make your telemarketing team more effective in generating B2B leads.

A Reflection of Outbound Telemarketing through Classic Love Songs of the 70’s and 80’s

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A Reflection of Outbound Telemarketing through Classic Love Songs of the 70’s and 80’s-done

There are reasons why people never forget songs from the past. First of all, they were written back when songwriters really wrote from the heart, when they used faithful words and metaphors of how they felt at that time. It is also because old songs are universal – although they may tell particular love stories, they may also be applied to almost anything in life.

Say, Outbound Telemarketing and Lead Generation?

Like a typical cycle of human emotions, Outbound Telemarketing and Lead Generation also follow a path where every action matters and could either be helpful or detrimental to the goal. It’s easy to understand how the Telemarketing process works by relating them to timeless songs:

Hello (Lionel Richie, 1984)

  • Of course, everything starts with a greeting. This initial contact is one of the most crucial parts of a Telemarketing call. If not done right, a professional telemarketer may not even get to proceed to anything at all.

Getting to Know Each Other (Gerard Kenny, 1980) –

  • Also a make or break stage, this is when the telemarketer tells something about his company and at the same time asks the prospect about certain details relevant to Lead Generation. Although it is not the actual sales pitch yet, asking the wrong questions or introducing impertinent points may ruin the conversation.

Words (Bee Gees, 1977) –

  • Words are all telemarketers have to take a prospect’s heart away. This is it – this is where the real stuff happens. The telemarketer discusses specific information on the goods or services or potential contract details. As expected, the telemarketer would also have to answer the prospect’s curious questions and clarifications.

It Might Be You (Stephen Bishop, 1983) –

  • Depending on the outcome of the product discussion, the prospect may now realize the benefits and likelihood of the proposal. He may give hints that he is interested and may be now ready to take things a step further.

I’d Really Love to See You Tonight (England Dan & John Ford Coley, 1976) –

  • Well, not tonight, but definitely in the future. This is when Appointment Setting is done, usually an in-person meeting with a Sales Executive or a phone call during the prospect’s preferred schedule.

The Search is Over (Survivor, 1985) –

  • The prospect’s meeting with the Sales Executive may seal the deal, and the Telemarketer’s mission is completed, unless otherwise if the deal was not made.

Don’t Throw it All Away (Bee Gees, 1978) –

  • If the prospect declined a business partnership, it’s still considered a lead, but one that has to be recycled and followed-up in the future. It goes back to the Telemarketers work list and may not be touched in the near future until a new need has developed.

Somewhere Down the Road (Barry Manilow, 1981) –

  • A sales call may not always turn out productive, but the good thing about it is that in this industry, “no” is not absolute. As long as Outbound Telemarketing services providers keep records of target information, there will always be opportunities and needs somewhere down the road, and when that time comes, the mission is reborn.