Lead Qualification Maximizes Sales Calls

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One of the best ways to get results for sales calls is to prequalify prospective customers. Prequalified prospects reduce the cost of doing business by targeting those with a propensity to buy, making better use of sales personnel's time and reducing the number of expensive informational packages needed. The key is to begin with quality lists of prospects that are most likely to be receptive to your product and offer.

Another way to reduce calling costs and make calls more productive is to outsource the prequalification calls to an organization whose only job is to make marketing telephone calls. If the spade work of more precisely qualifying outgoing calls is delegated and carried out efficiently by a dedicated team of teleprofessionals, those left to receive a second sales contact by a company's sales staff will be much more likely to think of and buy the products and services. With less-likely prospects whittled in the lead-qualification process, a client's marketing and sales staff can focus on the second contact and produce a much higher rate of sales.

Take the case of a leading accounting software company that outsourced lead qualification to Ron Weber and Associates Inc. The process begins with marketing personnel from the software company meeting with RWA representatives to design a lead-qualification program and the support processes.

A database of prospects is developed from various sources, including appropriate SIC codes, existing customers, trade show respondents and prospects from trade magazine readers who meet the customer profile and frequently respond to new product items.

To prepare the assigned teleservices representatives, the company usually provides components such as sample product, training information including commonly asked questions and answers and objections/rebuttals, back-up sources including videos and Web sites. There also should be preliminary role-playing with company professionals to acclimate the newly trained teleservices reps.

The telemarketers generate and qualify leads using a mini-survey approach, usually developed to secure marketing information from both qualified and unqualified leads. As telesales support is the telemarketer's only business, the teleservices company's personnel are experienced and can draw on expertise from similar projects. Also, because they are a service agency, the telemarketers can accommodate the peaks and valleys in the process easier than the software company, whose emphasis has to be on product development.

The teleservices firm designs an approach with appropriate questions for prequalifying respondents to determine who is interested, has a need and budget. Most contacts will discuss their preferences when asked for their opinion.

Questions are designed to elicit further information. In the case of the software company, questions included which software they are using, what they like and dislike about it, whether they are planning and budgeting for an upgrade, who the decision maker is and how many employees the software will have to support.

With the software company, an incentive for strengthening the conversation is "a must-have" guide for anyone considering upgrading or implementing accounting systems. The telemarketer offers leads the 16-page guide, "39 New Ideas for CFOs," compiled from current industry information. The booklet describes methods of using the company's software to automate different elements of customer accounting operations.

Near the end of each call, the teleservices rep concludes with an expression of thanks and an invitation to remain in contact for this and future needs. All this is carried out seamlessly so that each qualified lead can expect a follow-up call from a company sales representative.

With the telemarketing process sufficiently mechanized and automated, the call guide is programmed so that teleservices personnel can follow the flow and maintain control over the conversation.

Teleservices professionals routinely do better at lead generation/qualification than businesses that have other core competencies because telemarketing personnel are experienced at making calls and at working with potential customers. Once the lead is qualified, the process has opened the gates for the final sales contact, which is now more productively made by sales personnel.


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