A couple of years ago, I read an interesting letter written to an advice columnist:
I have a brother who is a telemarketer. I have another brother who was electrocuted for mass murder. My mother is a hopeless alcoholic and a prostitute, and my father sells narcotics to school kids. Recently, I met a girl who will soon be released from prison after serving five years for armed robbery and I want to marry her. My question is: If I marry her, should I tell her that my brother is a telemarketer?
– Disgusted in Delaware
Isn’t this the image of telemarketers that is too often conjured up in the minds of the American public? Are there bad telemarketers? Absolutely! Are there bad doctors? Are there bad stockbrokers? There is good and bad in every profession. It’s not just in telemarketing. There are slimy scam artists who sell you things in person, over the Internet and through direct mail. Why is it that telemarketers get such a bad rap?
I’ve been around mass telemarketing since some of the earlier days, and I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I have sat through those seemingly never-ending monitoring sessions, listening to poor reps deliver poor scripts to poor, unsuspecting residents. I’ve witnessed the hang-ups, the cursing, etc. However, since I was a part of a large telemarketing center, I also got to witness the calls that were good. I’ve seen the upsells and cross-sells that made the customer very happy and, yes, we even had outbound programs that were a joy to monitor.
I always ask these questions in my seminars: “How many people in here hate being sold something?” Almost every hand goes up. Then I ask: “How many people in here just love to buy things?” Again, almost every hand goes up. If people hate to be sold something but love to buy things – it must be in how that transaction occurs.
Another question I like to ask: “How many people in here are truly nice people?” Almost every hand goes up again. Then, I ask: “How many people in here have hung up on a telemarketer?” You got it, almost everyone.
What we have is an almost unanimous population of nice people who love to buy things. What if we could make a call that actually encouraged the nice person to come out and actually see the value in the call and buy happily? Can this happen? From my experience it can, and it already does. So what makes these situations different?
The key selling interface in telemarketing is the representative’s voice quality, communication skills and the words used to sell the product or services. If these three variables are in conjunction with a quality service or product, then the consumer should experience a more enjoyable telemarketing experience. Assuming we are offering a sound product, we must examine the variables needed to improve the rep’s voice quality and communication. The key to improving this communication is effective script writing and delivery.
Scripting. Let’s face it, we’ve all gotten the call ourselves and wondered, “Who wrote this script?” And the answer very often is either a copywriter or a lawyer. Sometimes they are cut and pasted from other scripts. How can you possibly expect a quality customer contact if you are using a horrible script? We spend millions of dollars to reach our target market, why not invest the money and make sure the script will accomplish the following:
• Present your offer in the best light possible. Positioning is everything. Sometimes it is better to sell a couple of key benefits rather than running quickly through a list of 20.
• Make it rep friendly. It should be conversational, easy to deliver and include a little customer interaction.
• Match the tone and the tempo to the offer. Not all offers should be delivered with maximum enthusiasm. Sometimes, a lower-key approach is best.
• Leave the English teacher at home. Remember, we are writing for conversation, not grammar.
Script delivery. If we are going to improve the overall quality and perception of the telemarketer, this is a great place to begin. How many times have you gotten a call from a telemarketer you knew was reading from a script? In monitoring, we often hear people ask if the rep is reading or if the rep is a robot.
If a rep is going to spend thousands of hours delivering your message to potential customers, doesn’t it make sense to spend at least one hour making sure the message is delivered properly? What if your rep learned to deliver the script, instead of read the script? It would make the script sound more believable and easier to listen to.
Here is the formula for a small investment on the front end of a program that will invariably have a high payoff during the life of the program. Take small groups of reps (10 to 12) and work with them on the delivery of the script.
Try to get the rep away from reading the script and encourage conversational tone. Work on pace, pausing, script control and timing. This makes it sound more natural. Through drill and rehearsal with one or two of the reps, the remainder of the class will pick up on the same tone and delivery. You should be able to get 10 reps to be considerably more comfortable and competent in a one-hour session. Now, each call is more practice. Practice makes perfect? Not true! Perfect practice makes perfect.
If you follow up this effort with good quality coaching and monitoring, the end result will most certainly be a higher-quality call that is more effective.
If you have a good offer, go the extra mile and make it sparkle and shine. The little extra effort will make the program better and, at the same time, reflect well on the industry as a whole.