Telemarketing involves contacting customers by phone to make product or service offers. A successful telemarketing campaign turns contacts into new customer prospects. Businesses running telemarketing campaigns either use their own sales staff or outsource to a specialist call centre.

Telemarketing is personal and interactive, and capable of generating new customer prospects in large volumes. However, as many businesses use telemarketing, people's tolerance of and responsiveness to telemarketing campaigns has reduced. You should approach telemarketing campaigns with clear thought and caution.

Successful telemarketing campaigns tend to be highly targeted, relying on accurate and well-defined customer data that matches customer profiles to product profiles.

Types of telemarketing

Types of telemarketing include:

  • cold-calling – calling someone for the first time and without their permission to generate a new lead
  • warm-calling – a cold call that uses 'warm' communication techniques designed to create a rapport, or a call made to follow-up on an initially positive response
  • follow-ups – calls designed to turn a lead into a prospect, renew contact with a lapsed customer, thank a customer for their support or check customer satisfaction
  • fundraising calls – contact made for the sole purpose of seeking charitable donations
  • market research – calls to individuals made according to customer or demographic segments to gather information for research surveys
  • database clean up – calls made to update customer records or establish a customer's level of ongoing interest in your products or services.

Tips for telemarketing

Targeted telemarketing campaigns can achieve good results. Plan a telemarketing campaign that allows you to:

  • make contact with people who are already leads or who precisely match your customer lead profile
  • make contact for the purposes of introducing yourself and building an accurate database of relevant customers
  • keep in touch with existing or lapsed customers
  • set up appointments or provide information
  • follow-up with a direct mail campaign.

Purchase a reliable direct marketing list that is well-matched to your ideal customer.

Focus on business markets. People prefer receiving telemarketing calls at work over receiving them at home.

Aim only to establish a rapport with the person you are calling: if you focus on prospecting rather than sales, you're more likely to get a conversation and a prospect rather than a hang-up. The cold call then helps you generate a lead by building trust and developing a new relationship.

  • Use a warm tone of voice and make a comment or ask a question designed to identify with the person (e.g. 'Is your day as busy as mine?').
  • Ask a couple of questions to determine whether the lead and your business are a good match. Don't focus on making a sale then and there.
  • Try to find out as much as you can about the lead prior to calling.
  • Use your qualifying questions (e.g. asking the person if they are in a certain age group or demographic, or have a need for your products or services).
  • Thank the lead for their time.
  • End the call as soon as you've asked your qualifying questions if you find that the lead is not a prospect.

Abide by the Do Not Call Register. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) manages a Do Not Call Register to offer consumers the choice to opt out of receiving calls and faxes made from telemarketing call lists. A number is eligible to be registered if it is used or maintained:

  • primarily for private purposes
  • exclusively for transmitting and/or receiving faxes
  • exclusively for use by a government body.

Telemarketing calls that breach the Do Not Call list can be penalised under the Do Not Call Act 2006 (Cwlth). Charitable organisations, religious institutions and government agencies are exempt.

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