Do You Sell Like A Telemarketer? Do people smile when they pick up your calls?

Have you shaken off hardened habits from your telemarketing days?

Do you still pickup the phone or fire up your computer every morning excited to make hundreds of cold calls with your verbatim script?

Let’s see. Telemarketing has been around quite a while.

But let’s establish this first, there definitely is a difference between Telemarketing and Inside Sales.

Decades ago, as the cost of field sales continued to escalate, businesses went on to use telemarketing as a way to reduce costs. This also gave more attention to marginal accounts—those who bring in very little revenue. Granted, there are a lot of these accounts for most businesses. Those who avail minimum offerings or squeeze discounts as part of “trying things out”. Telemarking generally involved volume-calling. More calls, more chances of closing. However, the calls netted low returns, so many companies resorted to blowing up their machinery to hike up deals.

But business-wise, bigger revenue with bigger costs and high rejection rates is not always the best scenario. Some companies began to wise up. A general rule of thumb in business is that 20 percent of clients account for 80 percent of sales while the remaining 80 percent of clients produce just 20 percent of sales. Although the marginal clients are not necessarily unprofitable, it is wise to put resources to focus on the bracket that generates the 80% sales—even when a big chunk of them are high ticket clients.

Moving away from telemarketing, businesses moved to inside sales. Like telemarketing, most of the conversation are made through the phone, but inside sales professionals do not come in on a call expecting an immediate close. Remember, inside sales pros gun for the bigger contracts, decisions that are harder to make client-side. So, inside sales departments nurture and educate clients, while the reps work to close business deals.

Now that we’re clear as to the connection of telemarketing and inside sales, it’s not a secret that there are still a lot of companies that use telemarketing. But as sales professionals doing telemarketing come to eventually realize, there’s very little career traction in telemarketing and a career in inside sales is lasting and more professionally rewarding.

Here are the differences defined:

The Telemarketer vs The Inside Sales Pro

A telemarketer is a person who is tasked to make a certain number of calls a day. To have 100 numbers to call each day is not new for telemarketers. The focus is getting data reported. Not in-depth data but having to say, “We made 100 calls today. The whole team made 1500.” In the actual calls, the ask scripted questions and sell products with the focus of promoting it.

An inside sales rep makes calls with the focus of opening up doors and creating opportunities for higher ticket sales. They build trust and confidence. They form relationships with prospects.

Techniques required for inside sales calls are varied. You need to know how to ask the right qualifying questions, know how to determine needs and problems, know your product and market in and out, be able to sniff out who the decision maker is, handle objections of every kind, ask trial questions, identify buying signals and close the sale.

Training The Telemarketer And The Inside Sales Representative

Telemarketers require very minimal training. Their knowledge of the product and processes in sales is confined to the script. They are the random people who call at odd times throughout the day. If telemarketers have a prized skill, it’s having thick skin needed to face the hundreds of irate customers each month.

Inside sales representatives are rigorously trained in product, sales and the market their company operates in. They also undergo constant training upskill and product updates. Their calls are shadowed and monitored. They have guides for sales but nothing is scripted as they need to give a natural and fluid sales experience to their prospects.

Transitioning careers for telemarketers

Some telemarketing vets who move to inside sales still retain old habits. In this post we compare and contrast the experience and approaches of telemarketers and inside sales reps.

Here are bad telemarketer habits that could stick to you:

Good or bust approach

Val is a hardworking telemarketer. He gets to the office and immediately sets himself to call his first probable client taken from the call list provided by his company.

“Hello, good morning,” a lady answered from the other line.

“Good morning, ma’am. I am Val, I am working in a company which offers air duct cleaning services.”

The lady quipped, ” I am sorry, I am busy.” Then hangs up.
The day ended with Val having only a few people actually to talk to him, and did not close a single deal.

Such is a normal day for Val. He thinks, “More calls tomorrow, then.”

Now, George is an inside sales rep selling software offering software solutions to businesses. He is part of an inside sales team. He has quite a wide understanding about the product he is selling, what with the rigorous training, continuous updates and shadowing he goes through.

George sits down and checks his computer for updates on the prospects he’s been taking care of. Yes, George knows the people he’s going to call and this is not the first time they’ll be hearing from him when he dials out. He updates the files—diligently gathering new information about prospects, checking with management and marketing.

Finally, George dials out with a goal in mind. Today, he wants to ask the prospect if he can discuss a whitepaper he sent a week ago.

Prospect says yes and the buyer is moved along the sales process. No rush. Patient, helpful selling.

Telemarketers go into calls wanting a deal. If there’s no deal, they move on. They don’t bother to research the prospect, if they need their product or even just their background. They call people randomly depicting a high rate of rejection. Telemarketers moving into inside sales positions sometimes bring this mindset of having unlimited leads, lazing off when researching prospects and giving the customers a good sales experience.

After Val’s failure to have a single conversation rolling in the first day of the week, he motivates himself to keep on going. He pumps himself up, Jerry Maguire style. The next day, he grinds and sets out to dial out as many people as he can. He managed to get a few conversations but still no sale.

In a study of 200 tech companies selling products at the $50,000 to $300,000 range, telemarketing—cold calling with little marketing support—netted an average of 12 percent to 14 percent conversations. A conversation wasn’t necessarily a meaningful exchange. It can be anything from a person directing a telemarketer to the right person or anyone not hanging up.

Even Val getting to say, “Are you encountering problems like inconsistent flow of air temperature from the ducts?” before the other party gets to hang up accounts for a conversation. It takes that much compromise just to produce numbers that remotely seem productive for a telemarketing approach.

Only 3.5 percent to 5 percent of calls are expected to translate into REAL sales opportunities with full BANT information. Out of those calls, only 20 to 30 percent get closed.

So, say Val makes 100 calls a day. That’s 500 a week and in the 2000 range in a month. At 12 to 14 percent turning into conversations, Val gets 8 to 14 qualified leads a month. Out of that, he gets 2 to 3.5 deals. Now, most telemarketers have very low base pays and operate mainly on commissions. The company loses, Val loses.

Reliant on the salesperson

While Val blindly dials out, the auto-dialer is the only piece of tech they use.

George gets full support from several departments across his company. They leverage technology to power their sales operations. Sales acceleration is embraced in their company. It enables them to work swiftly like log pertinent information straight into accounts as the call is in progress, the ideal times certain prospects are more responsive to calls and other data that can be captured.

George’s company leverages the data in realtime, so they can work smarter and streamline collaboration in their company. By using a powerful tech stack, the capacity of the inside sales reps in the company is increased. They can send more emails, dial out more and get more conversations—all the while keeping connections smart.

Age of The Informed Customer

Companies that continue to use telemarketing as a sales approach are missing out on the long-term and immediate wins that inside sales brings. Inside sales is more than selling—it builds the company’s credibility and reputation. If done right, it is part of a sustainable business strategy that helps not only sales but the company as a whole.

Taking the consultative approach instead of the in-your-face salesperson route will build the company’s brand as reputable and can establish them as the expert in their field.

In the age of the informed customer, it is the task of the salesperson to always be helpful. Product and skill training is a crucial ingredient in enabling salespeople to provide value to the prospects. Truth be told, companies should be taking into consideration the actual experience on the floor when hiring inside sales reps. Telemarketers are not necessarily out of the equation if they can embrace and understand the essence of inbound marketing and inside sales.

Telemarketing is interruptive, intrusive and I’d go as far as saying that it has no place in today’s business and consumer landscape. Cold calling can still be done in a number of circumstances—but telemarketing where someone delivers a verbatim scripted speech and dupes consumers into buying subscription material that’s hard to cancel is an utter disgrace.

If you’re doing telephone sales, it’s inside sales that will net you best opportunities and nothing else.


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Dan Sincavage

Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.

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