Essentials for Telemarketing Call Centers

Telemarketing call centers and Telesales call centers can fulfill a variety of needs beyond simply selling, and they can provide both outbound telemarketing services and inbound telemarketing services. Telemarketing is a common enough term that most people have heard, but what exactly is it? What types or programs does it include? And what technologies do you need to get started? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Telemarketing?

Telemarketing is a type of marketing in which a company contacts customers or potential customers to build a relationship. Often called telesales or insides sales, telemarketing can help simplify the sales process, but it can also be a way to receive information from your customers.

Telemarketing and telesales campaigns have traditionally been done simply over the phone, although today it can also include internet-based contacts. New technologies are also making face-to-face meetings or web conferencing appointments more common. Outbound telemarketing may also use recorded sales pitches that play automatically when a customer answers the phone.

While telemarketing often involves sales, it is not just about pitching a brand, product or service. Telemarketing is a conversation between two people, and provides the chance to learn about potential customers, and to generate interest, create opportunities, and connecting with new people. Telemarketing can be used by a wide variety of businesses across many industries.

Types of Telemarketing Programs and Telesales Campaigns

Telemarketing campaigns can be configured to make a simple, one-call sale. And that may be the way many people think of it. However, telemarketing call centers actually support a much broader range of services, helping to build relationships, provide customer service and gather date – which can eventually lead to a closing a more complex sale. Their audiences can be either business-to-consumer (b2c) or business-to-business (b2b).

Outbound telemarketing is probably the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the term telemarketing. These programs are typically aimed at one of three areas: lead generation (gathering of information and contacts), sales (“pitches” for products or services), and other proactive types of campaigns in which potential or existing customers are contacted directly.

Telemarketing can also include inbound activities, where the customer initiates the contact. For example, a company may provide a toll-free number (or hotline) that consumers can call to get answers to questions about products/services and, hopefully, place an order. Incoming traffic is usually based on advertising, publicity, or an outside sales team.

Here are some activities that can be managed by telemarketing:

  • Collecting or updating data on customers. The outbound calling of databases with the particular purpose to clean and prepare data (i.e. removing outdated and incorrect data) and contact details for future telemarketing campaigns.
  • Targeting potential customers with a call to action. Telemarketing is a great way to conduct outreach to prospective customers and ask them questions to see if they qualify for your offerings or to take an action, such as visiting a website or registering for a conference or seminar.
  • Telesales/Inside Sales. Telemarketing with the focused goal of making an actual sale over the phone, typically involving taking payments during the call, for a faster close and immediate confirmation. 
  • Generating new appointments. Many companies use telesales campaigns to schedule sales appointments, which may be face-to-face or telephone-based.
  • Surveys and questionnaires. Contacting individuals with the particular goal of gathering data and information from specific target markets for qualitative research purposes is a common telesales tool. This is a great way to get your company’s name in front of potential future customers. Surveys can also be used to follow-up with customers to see if they were satisfied with their product or service, which can help build the relationship for future purchases.
  • Post-sales communications. Don’t forget your customers after the sale. A happy birthday wish, holiday greeting, special discount offers, etc., can increase their loyalty toward your company.

9 Essential Technologies for Telemarketing Programs

Telemarketing software is a type of contact center software that helps companies manage their inbound and outbound telemarketing activities. A wide range of telemarketing software is available to help telemarketing call centers. Outbound telemarketing and inbound teleservices can both benefit from the use of telesales tools and technologies to reach out to existing and potential customers, generate leads, drive conversions, and close sales.

Building the Technology Foundation for Your Telemarketing or Telesales Call Center

The basic features of a telemarketing system should include:

1. Auto-dialer or predictive dialer to automate the outbound calling process, dialing numbers and sending connected call to agents.

2. Inbound automatic call distributor (ACD) to help route incoming calls more efficiently for faster service.

3. Reporting and call history logs to track and report on KPIs, contact attempts and results, and to track customer data, so you can measure performance and productivity, see what works, and modify programs to meet your goals.

4. Tools to manage compliance with range of government and industry regulations, such as Do Not Call (DNC), restrictions on contacting wireless numbers and other rules in the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA), guidelines for the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), and the Payment Card Industry Data security Standard (PCI-DSS) requirements for anyone taking payments over the phone – just to name a few.

5. CRM or customer database integration to help manage customer data.

6. Call scripts and unified workflows to lead agents/rep through a call, with the ability to push customer information from the CRM to the agent screen.

7.  Omnichannel contacts for multiple channels, to support the growing consumer demand for services via chat, email, text, and social media.

8. Security protocols are critical in today’s world, to protect your data and promote customer confidence and privacy.

9. Flexible Cloud and Premise deployment options, so you can choose whether you want to use a cloud-based call center as a service model (pay a monthly fee for usage) or to own the system and have it reside at your site.

Going Beyond the Basics with Advanced Telemarketing and Telesales Tools

As markets mature and competition for consumers’ attention increases, many companies find it valuable to add advanced telemarketing software tools to their mix. Today’s contact center vendors offer a range of features for telesales call centers that can take your program management to the next level.

  • Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) to help send inbound calls to the right place, based on menu selections, and skills-based routing to send the calls to the best agent/rep to serve their needs.
  • Text to Speech and Automated Speech Recognition software, usually used with an IVR, to allow faster service, or even self-service
  • Quality Monitoring tools to manage resources and service levels, observe rep performance, and view system activities, phone lines, and queues.
  • Call Recording for verifying sales, payments, adherence to best practices, and compliance with regulations, and to improve quality and see where training might be needed.
  • Workforce Management (WFM) helps simplify the process of scheduling your workforce, using past performance to forecast call volume and then automatically generate a roster based on your work rules, so you have the right people in the right places at the right times.
  • Gamification helps keep your reps more engaged, improves training, increases productivity, and reduces employee turnover. Gamification transforms daily routines into rewarding competitions and makes it easy for everyone in the center to see their goals and know what they need to achieve them.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can streamline rep tasks to eliminate repetition and decrease response times and can carry out routine, high-volume tasks quickly and efficiently.