Buyers Guide to Telemarketing
1. An Introduction to Telemarketing
2. Basic Telemarketing Methods
3. How-to’s of Telemarketing
4. Costs of Telemarketing
An Introduction to Telemarketing
Telemarketing, or making direct calls to consumers, is a business trend almost 40 years in the making.
Invented by Bell Systems Communications in the 70’s, it started as a way for telephone companies to
advertise their own services.
These lists can be compiled from a multitude of sources: contest entries, old databases, website service
forms, or even purchased through third parties. Usually, the customer is contacted and given the option
to call, email, or make in-person appointments about a product or service offered – many times offers
for the product or service are attempted directly over the phone.
The purpose of telemarketing can range anywhere from direct outbound sales to lead generation to
fundraising. Calls are usually placed by an employee with a script in hand, offering services with a bythe-books approach.
Typically, the scripts begin with an introduction, and then offer an “ABC service from an XYZ
company.” The prospected customer can then decide to contact XYZ later or talk to a sales
representative on the spot. Such calls have led to telemarketing receiving a bad rap, causing customers to
regard calls with a high level of dissatisfaction.
However, beyond the clichéd late evening call that interrupts dinner for unsuspecting families,
telemarketing services can actually be a highly effective marketing tool with high success rates – as long
as businesses do the right type of research before calling.
The main component of a successful telemarketing campaign is confirming the accuracy of the
information. A good way to organize the information involved is to target the marketing effort – this
means concentrating only on prospects with high purchasing potential by narrowing down the lists to
certain demographics or geographical areas.
It always helps to have a specific marketing strategy set up before any numbers are dialed. This guide
will help explain some of the successful methods in telemarketing, some of the basic costs, and the laws
that regulate a basic campaign.
Basic Telemarketing Methods
Basic telemarketing strategy comes in two forms – the first involves having employees in sales and
marketing contact customers. The other, more widely used method is to outsource the actual calls to a
Having employees call directly from the office can have a much more customer-oriented feel, where the
product or service being offered is advertised by someone with direct tie-ins. However, the major
drawback lies in overusing manpower, time mismanagement, and in a company not having the right
personnel for direct sales.
Outsourcing to a firm also has its drawbacks in the actual sales process. For example, having an outside
company interface with customers potentially increases the chances for miscommunication and damage
to your brand and its image.
On the other hand, outsourcing also has its selling points. Firms that are familiar with the calling and
sales process already understand the laws and regulations that apply to a telemarketing campaign and
also already have the adequate equipment and manpower established to handle lead generations.
This can save in long run of having to train or hire specifically for telemarketing services, especially in
cases where the advertising is for a seasonal promotion or a trial product.
In addition, telemarketing firms have much more experience in the field, and have expertise in creating
and filtering customer lists, drafting scripts, and managing campaigns with tracked results.
Telemarketing firms have a much more established process of testing and monitoring new programs and
offers within small groups. Also, firms have effective ways of taking your service across time zones and
even taking your campaign global, where the firms themselves often have international branches that
can communicate in multiple languages.
Typically, a telemarketing firm will be based out of a warehouse-type call center with stations divided
by cubicles or tables with their employees processing and placing calls throughout the day. These
employees will oftentimes be the first point of contact between your business and your potential buyers,
so it is important for you to pick a firm that you feel that you can trust to represent your brand
Good firms should have high satisfaction rates from their own employees. Doing a bit of research on
these firms yourself can also help in the long run firms with employees with long work histories tend to
have employees that are more experienced salespeople who can motivate buyers and represent your
product better. Many of these firms pay commission to their sales staff, so the firms with high employee
retention rates also have higher sales.
How-to’s of Telemarketing
In either case, whether your business chooses to hire a firm or have its employees call customers
directly, one of the most important things to consider is the sales “script” that will be utilized. As the
script will be a direct representation of your company and its products, it should be consistent and as
clear in its intentions as possible.
1. Have a reason: A good format is to always start off with the reason for the call, the name and
function of your business, and any other helpful information such as where they may have heard
of you or even, in cases where this is important, how you got the customer information.
2. Be Honest: As the call itself is a sales call, the main purpose is to gain the trust of the customer
being called, and being honest and as informative as possible can go a long way. It is up to you
as the business to decide whether you want your script to be professional or casual, and this can
depend on the actual service or product that is being offered.
3. Decide when to call: Old stereotype about telemarketers is that they often call at inopportune
times, and that they often pick from a list of potential customers without first establishing need
or even a desire for the services offered.
4. Phone Lists: Keeping a phone list updated can go a long way in preventing unwanted calls and
also saving time for callers. Establishing the target market for your business and striving to keep
this information accurate can help increase the potential and likelihood for success by a great
These reasons are why telemarketing firms with professional Telemarketing Sales Representatives
(TSR’s) can be much more successful than having your business contact potential customers directly.
Reputable firms have TSR’s that are trained in tracking and reporting on the campaign process, and
TSR’s will usually review and modify the target calling market model after a few trial runs – if this is
something your business wants, make sure to have this service included in the firm’s fees before you
ultimately pick where you outsource your sales.
TSR’s also have more experience about what time to place calls to efficiently contact customers and
how to make sure the customer will call back; in addition, they are trained to understand when to leave
messages and how to track follow-up potential.
Whether you choose to hire a firm or use your own employees, it is important train everyone in your
business’ specific product sales approaches – one good way to do this is to have your business’ best
sales associate oversee the training. In order for your business to maintain its professionalism, it is
important to always introduce a consistent business image to buyers and subscribers, and also to make
sure that whoever contacts the customers has an adequate understanding of your products and their
Working together with your main office team and an outside firm on things like the sales script,
establishing the target market, and detailed product training is the best way to maintain the integrity of
your business and to establish a reputable relationship with potential patrons.
Also, the telemarketing practice itself has many established laws and regulations governing its practices,
and it is highly valuable for whoever you employ to understand and study these before they begin. There
is a “National Do Not Call Registry” that the public can sign up for, and cold-calling these restricted
numbers, whether they are on your phone lists or not, is strictly prohibited.
There is also a code of industry-specific ethics established by “The Profession of Telemarketers” that
people working in telephone solicitation must follow that prohibit the sale of phone lists and so on. The
United States government also has their own set of regulations for telemarketing sales, called the
“Telemarketing Sales Rule” and the “Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.”
All of the firms that you can hire will have trained their TSR’s in these practices as well. If you use your
own employees, there is also software that can help determine which numbers are valid to prevent
breaking the law.
The Costs of Telemarketing
The costs of hiring telemarketing services depend on who you use and what exactly it is that your
business needs done. Things like the volume of outgoing calls and the type of call programs that you
want implemented can have different fees depending on the firm - it would benefit your business to do a
little market research on the firms themselves to find the best fit for your budget.
Complex marketing campaigns, extensive product training, and specific sales processes all require
additional training for both your employees and TSRs so be prepared: training and other costs can cost
up to 20% extra on top of your original bill.
Firms also have specific ways of charging for their services. Some charge by the hour, and others have
monthly minimums or set fee structures. Hourly rates can range from $20 - $65 for domestic companies
and $12 - $16 for offshore firms.
Set fee structures and monthly fees depend on the amount of employees that you wish to have work on
your campaign. The call hours that your specific target market requires can also play a role in
determining your final bill. Many firms pay overtime and weekend pay to their TSR's, and firm-specific
payment structures can also change your costs (commission based companies will cost more).
The actual phone lists and any lead generation that will be used by your TSR's may have to be purchased
and can cost several hundred dollars as well depending on the sources.
If your business decides to choose a telemarketing services with their own call center, make sure to go
over the contract agreements carefully - establish ways to check on the progress of calls placed, whether
your are paying hourly or monthly.
If your business is going to be billed per call, make sure to get a list of calls placed and also a report that
details the length of each call. If the charges are assessed according to monthly minimums, make sure to
get an hourly report on the employees who work your campaign.
Always make sure to note in the contract the possibility of both parties not meeting specified
obligations, and make plans for remedies in cases where calls aren't placed or results aren't satisfactory.