I read an article in the Standard the other day that really struck a chord. Email obsession harms recovery of the economy and our health, according to Stephen Taylor who runs Propaganda, a promotional and merchandising company.
As Stephen Taylor was a self-made millionaire by the age of 29, he can certainly claim to have some understanding of what is needed to drive business forward. The article complains how no-name policies and a gatekeeper’s standard requests to “send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org” are strangling British business – when an entrepreneur or company with a genuinely good proposal does try to contact decision makers within these organisations they simply can’t get through. The end result is a lack of new business for the caller, a lost opportunity for the decision maker and the possibility that both parties are just treading water rather than progressing in the grand scheme of things.
Last year I wrote a blog which in part looked at the difficult subject of getting round gatekeepers and Jim Piper, our Client Services Director, looked at how personal interaction generates new business. So, Alchemis can honestly say to Stephen Taylor that “we feel the same pain”.
Partly the telemarketing industry is in a “chicken or egg” situation. The sheer number of emails people now deal with contributes to making people too busy to take calls. I know that if I go on holiday for a week I will come back to somewhere in the region of 500 emails. The result of this is that I end up taking my iphone on holiday and flagging up the important stuff so it doesn’t get overlooked when I try to deal with the backlog when I return. However, that kind of defeats the purpose of a holiday.
At the same time, the sheer number of poorly thought-out, irrelevant calls that seem to be made is simply staggering. I know how many I receive on a daily basis and I know a lot of these are from organisations that just can’t offer anything that would benefit me or my organisation because they are so off-target. It is not in a caller’s interest to waste precious time and resources targeting somebody that would not want/need their product or service. However, an unprofessional caller will often seem oblivious to this and the result is a waste of both their own time and the prospective customer’s. And so the shields go up and the cycle continues.
So what’s the answer? Well, if you notice in the above paragraph I used the term “unprofessional” caller. A top sales person can make a highly targeted, professional new business approach to the correct decision maker and knows how to follow the first rule of sales – to LISTEN and identify what your prospect actually needs. They will also have a solid understanding of their own company’s offer and capabilities. There is a world of difference between this kind of organisation and an outfit that just employs “phone monkeys”, for want of a better phrase.
Throw in a highly sophisticated database that enables you to constantly hone your target list into the best possible shape and evolve as the campaign does and that will give you a good start. You will still need to make 100 calls to have decent conversations with 15 decision makers, but maybe over time – if the telemarketing industry shapes up to follow the good examples set by some – people will see the benefit to British businesses. Well let’s hope, for all our sakes.