How to cut the cost of working your long list by phone

In the days before the internet, or, to be more precise, the evenings, working in telemarketing involved being handed a dog-eared script – which you absolutely had to stick to, unless you wanted to get fired then and there – and being told to work your way through the names on a page torn out of the phone book.

And a very long list it was, too.

How much in the way of double-glazing was sold that way, who’s to say – but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t a lot, since I speak from experience.

And that’s because the script was pretty much about trying to sell the total stranger at the other end of the line on the idea of being visited by a double-glazing salesman.  And back then, they had a reputation for persistence.

So, in short, there you were, with no flexibility in the way you interacted with someone whose dinner you’d just interrupted, trying to get them to agree to something they didn’t want in the first place – at your very first – and only – contact.

All in all, if that particular telemarketing outfit was getting paid on a commission-per-appointment basis, then it’s very likely they were losing money hand over fist.  They had to hire the office space, get some second-hand desks, install those phones, copy that “sales” script and somehow acquire a sacrificial phone book.  Oh, and of course, there was the small matter of paying supervisors and staff – of whom there was a very high turnover indeed.

Maximum effort, minimum results.

But now, in this digital age, some people are still putting in a huge amount of effort when it comes to their B2B telemarketing, and still paying through the nose for far too few results.  OK, so phone books are pretty well a thing of the past, because it’s a simple matter to source names and numbers online these days, but you can still end up with a long list that’s very long indeed.

And if it’s possible to get past their gatekeeper and through to anybody on that list, rather than trying to establish a relationship, those people are trying to sell them straight away on their service or product.

How much more effective would it be for them if their initial call was looking for an expression of interest in what they could provide -something quick and easy as in “May we send you an email giving you more information for you to look at, at your leisure”?

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start establishing a relationship via email – hardly the most expensive messaging medium on the planet.

And if the answer is no, well, there’s always the next name on that long list.