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How To Create A Powerful Phone Call Strategy

How To Create A Powerful Phone Call Strategy

Phone calls are among the communication channel that businesses use to connect with their customers, business partners, vendors, and prospects. More often, phones are used to make outbound calls with a view of generating leads for the business. Call agents make calls to promising leads to encourage them to purchase an item or subscribe to a service.

Some of the other reasons why businesses make outbound calls are: to boost brand awareness, check-in with customers, follow-up on recent purchases, or set appoints.

Call Strategy

Businesses also use outbound calls to verify accounts, or support customers to achieve their goal through a product or a service they bought. Outbound calls also come in handy when businesses want to remind customers of upcoming renewals and payments or when they need to gather feedback on how customers are experiencing their products or services.

But not all outbound calls yield positive results. However, businesses can enhance the effectiveness of phone outbound calls to generate more sales by developing a strategy. If you are looking to improve your outbound calls, below are some useful tips on how to create a powerful phone call strategy for your business:

1. Set Clear Phone Call Goals

A good phone call strategy starts by setting clear goals. The goals must be realistic. To ensure that you set reasonable goals for your sales or call center agents, involve them in the process. Consider breaking the goals into milestones to facilitate easy monitoring. Essentially, your outbound call goals should be aligned with what you want to achieve through the call center.

For instance, if you want outbound calls to be used for lead generation or customer survey, then set goals that are in line with this purpose. You can always modify your goals and milestones as the business grows or as new factors emerge. Share your goals and milestones with your sales or call center teams. Ensure that they understand and know how to achieve them. This will enable you to see how their individual efforts contribute to those goals and enhance their focus on the job.

2. Identify Clear Phone Call KPIs

After setting clear goals for your call center, you need to identify key performance indicators to enable you to measure the performance of your sales agents or call center representatives. Using a powerful phone system and a platform like Call Cowboy allows you to easily see and customize performance reports, so you know where it’s necessary to make adjustments.

When identifying the indicators, ensure they’re relevant to your goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase sales through the call center, consider using a key performance indicator like sales conversion rate and average handle time. The conversion rate enables you to track the number of sales made in relation to the number of phone calls made. If the conversion rate is low, it could mean that your sales agents are not selling much and that your phone call strategy needs to be reviewed or improved.

On the other hand, the average handle time enables you to keep tabs on the duration of phone calls in relation to the number of calls made. If your sales or call center agents are spending too much time on a single call, it can be an indicator of inadequate product knowledge, poor persuasion skills, or challenges in closing deals.

3. Establish A Criterion For Generating Call Lists

When you decide to make phone calls part of your communication channel, you need to determine how you’re going to reach your target audience. Without targeting the right audience or demographic, outbound calls will not have an impact on your business in terms of generating quality leads and increasing sales. The best way to create a powerful phone call strategy is to develop a criterion for creating an ideal call list.

To do this, work with the sales and marketing team to understand the profiles of the ideal customers that your business targets with its products. Better still, undertake market research to determine the kind of target your business serves. Once you are clear on the kind of target audience you need to focus on, create a call list that your call center agent can use to generate leads and sales.

4. Decide On Outbound Calling Tools

One of the most important aspects of a phone call strategy is deciding which outbound calling tools you’ll use in your business. If you’re targeting local and international customers, getting predictive dialer software is a great way to get started. This will make it easier for your sales or call center agents to place calls right from their computers and quickly take critical call notes.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is another good investment to make. With such software, identifying hot leads and personalizing outbound calls will become much easier for sales and call agents.

You should also consider getting a customizable caller ID to enhance your success rate. With this tool, call agents will be able to reach international clients while displaying local area codes as opposed to international ones. These increases call response rates since the likelihood of people picking local or recognizable numbers is higher compared to those that are random or unknown to them. With these tools, businesses can automate processes and ease the processes of making phone calls and closing deals much faster.

5. Craft A Plan For Call Agent Training

Besides picking a calling software, develop a plan for training your sales and call center teams to enable them to use the software and make outbound phone calls correctly and more effectively. A training plan is necessary because you’ll need to train them and re-train them to enable them to internalize and adopt best practices for outbound calls. Besides knowing how the outbound call software works, there are several other things that your sales or call center agents need to know.

For starters, they need to learn how to hook prospects or customers with a great introduction. Remember that in cold calling, they have a very limited time to connect with a target. If they’re unable to hook the recipient within seconds, they’ll lose the person. This makes introduction an important aspect of call agent training. Ideally, the agents should avoid starting outbound calls with a long description of who they are and the product they’re selling. Instead, they should state a short blurb capturing who they are, then draw the customer or prospect into the conversation. This way, they’re able to engage them better.

The other critical aspect of a call or sales agent training is about asking the right questions. Let’s face it—nobody wants to be lectured on a call. To engage customers or prospects meaningfully, call agents should perfect the art of asking the right questions. Besides training them, you’ll need to invest time in listening to live or recorded calls that your team makes. Review the calls with them, identify ineffective strategies, and give them advice on how to improve. Providing continuous support and training will play a critical role in helping your teams achieve their outbound call goals.

6. Build Synergy With The Marketing Team

A powerful phone call strategy must include clear ways of how the sales or call agents will work with the marketing team. In most businesses, it is the marketing team that has the deepest understanding of the target audience and ideas on how best to sell to them. Even though the sales and call center teams may be aware of the target audience, building synergy between them and the marketing teams will add value to any outbound call efforts, they undertake. For instance, the marketing team will help sales teams or call agents with insights on the best way to appeal to prospects based on their buying or intent behavior.

7. Engagement With Prospects

To convert prospects into customers successfully, call agents and sales reps should learn how to engage them. As such, a powerful phone call strategy should include information or ideas on how call center agents can do this effectively as opposed to dominating the conversation with sales pitches.

Engagement is a key aspect of outbound calls because it helps in capturing the attention of customers or prospects. Sales and call center agents should be able to listen to prospects and pay attention to their concerns, needs, and issues then adapt their pitches in a way that positions their offerings as a solution to those issues. This allows them to customize each phone call to the needs of the prospect and make the products or services that the business offers relevant to the target audience.

8. Honor Phone Call Commitments

When you’re using outbound calls to connect with customers, prospects, vendors, or business partners, you’ll find yourself scheduling calls every now and then. A powerful phone call strategy should include a mechanism for honoring commitments that sales teams or call center agents make with the target audience.

Though it might sound obvious, quite a large number of sales reps who use outbound calls to generate leads to neglect the commitments they make to follow them up, even when their initial phone conversation appeared promising.

Having a phone call strategy ensures that sales and call agents don’t miss out on such opportunities due to disorganization by ensuring that they honor the follow-up commitments. One way to do this is to use customer relationship management to organize their notes and follow prospects up on the day and time promised.

9. Monitor Outbound Calls Outcomes

Monitoring progress is an important aspect of any phone call strategy. You’ll need to monitor the results of sales calls to determine whether you’re achieving your goals or not. To do this, you’ll need to review the responses from the calls and check the performance of individual sales or call agents. The best way to track progress is by using the key performance indicators developed earlier.

An important part of monitoring phone calls is identifying what is working well and what isn’t. This will enable you to amplify the aspects that work well and improve those that don’t. In tracking phone call outcomes, you’ll also need to analyze your costs against the revenue generated to determine the return on investment.

10. Determine The Best Time To Make Phone Calls

As you create a phone call strategy, you’ll need to determine what would be the best time for sales teams or call agents to place outbound calls to customers. Since you’ll be using calls to reach out to prospects or customers either to follow-up on a previous communication, marketing information, or even inform them of an impending payment, timing is critical.

Consider placing business calls with prospects at a time when they’re not too occupied—like in the middle of the week. In terms of time, your teams are better off calling at mid-morning or mid-afternoon as opposed to early morning or evening when they’re occupied with work schedules or commutes.

11. Review Phone Call Interactions

An important aspect of a powerful phone call strategy is reviewing phone interactions. This not only enables you to know what your audience prefers and understand their behavior, but it also gives you a chance to monitor how your employees interact with customers. You can make phone call reviews easier by using call recording software. Reviewing phone call interactions is a great way of gathering valuable insights on different aspects of the services or products that your business offers. With this information, you can find ways to improve your offerings and enhance your customer support.

Final Thoughts

Creating a phone call strategy for your business is the first step towards ensuring that your call center contributes meaningfully to your bottom line. Depending on what your goal for outbound calls is, a phone call strategy enables you to align your sales and call center teams to work towards that goal by training them, monitoring progress, providing the necessary phone call software among others. When implemented correctly, a phone call strategy will not only enable your target audience to understand your brand, it will also boost conversation rates, increase your sales revenues and grow your business to higher heights.

NZ Ministerial briefings

Marketing and politics

Anyone who is updating their marketing plan or business plan knows that there’s a section that includes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And within this section is the PEST acronym for political, economic, social and technology – all areas to consider where changes may come from that affect your business.

How to assess politics for marketing?

Unless you are super into politics, most of us are not aware of the plans of the civil service and the government of the day. Some things hit the news, but most of the work goes on without too much hitting our consciousness.

So you write the Political part based on general knowledge and guesswork. And it’s not good.

No more, here’s a great way to find out what is coming up that will affect your business planning.

Briefings to Incoming Ministers

The New Zealand civil service writes a briefing for all the new ministers after a general election. This document is later published so we, the electorate, can see what they are planning. The BIMs are now all published for the current Ardern government.

Take a read of the briefings most relevant to your area of business – from the Finance Minister, to Revenue, Small Business, Tourism, Callaghan and the Digital Economy Communications – I found these fascinating.

Not all the briefing is public – there are redacted parts which are sensitive (some relate to jobs, others to matters like likely tax changes).

Here’s the link to all the briefings – BIMS Finance and Economy

Happy reading!

marketing competitors, competitor positioning,

Why don’t customers buy now?

Today I’m working with a client who is finding it hard to get prospects to buy.

We are working through a list of possible reasons.  My first view is that more advertising / publicity is probably not the reason.  I think that it’s more to do with the offer, the positioning, the brand promise and perceptions of value and immediate need.

Later is an option

Buying now is obviously what the client brand wants.

But for the prospect, why would they?

Deferring risk is part of the prospect’s decision making.  And as marketers we tend to presume that our logic, our world view must prevail.

But the reasons people don’t buy can also be

  • awareness
  • trust
  • world view
  • perceptions about value

We wrote a list of all the reasons someone would not buy this product.  Try it for yourself.

Competitors exist too

Some people will buy from your competitors.  Can you find out why they chose them?  Do you have anecdotes about customers trying another brand and coming back to yours?

Without publishing it, could you assemble anecdotes about your competitors, classify them and produce a rank order of WHY people choose them over you?

Then compare that to your positioning and brand promise.
Where do you really stand out, where are you broadly the same?

That will give your sales team clues….. I call these “golden questions” and they are defined by Don Peppers as questions whose answers tell you a lot more than the question implies.

So, if the customer is really concerned about something…. what do you ask / tell them?
If they are really concerned about price and only price ….what do you ask / tell them?

Today is later

Now is usually better than later.

Podcast marketing

What are the key essentials for promoting and marketing a podcast to grow listeners so you can improve monetisation?  This article runs through some of the fundamentals and also asks some important questions so you can find out if a podcast is the right marketing tactic for your brand.

Brand suitability for podcast marketing

Here are some simple questions for you to review before deciding to start a podcast.

Microphone for podcast: Photo credit Neil Godding on Unsplash

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Are they are already listening to podcasts?
  • What does your brand want to get out of the podcast (leads, brand awareness, thought leadership etc)
  • Which channels to market do you already use?
  • What headcount / analytics are in each of the existing channels?
  • What will success look like?

These are all questions worthy of a full day workshop.  Now, assuming you have robust answers to each of them, let’s dig into the tactics suitable for marketing a podcast.

Podcast marketing tactics

  1. Cross-promote through all existing channels controlled by the brand
  2. Select guests who have a large audience on the understanding they will cross-promote
  3. Add listeners by adding podcast into existing marketing tactics e.g. record a live episode at a trade show / a conference stage
  4. Get other podcasters to do a mutual episode with each broadcasting the same episode to their feeds
  5. Record in video and audio so you can use YouTube as a distribution channel
  6. Advertise
  7. Use clips and short video as content for social sharing
  8. Run campaigns which include the podcast e.g. contests where you have to listen to find out how to enter
  9. Use the podcast shownotes on your website and blog as SEO

Plus take a look at all the Quora questions I’ve answered and articles I’ve written about podcasting.

Simple Ways to Attract Your Ideal Customers

Simple Ways to Attract Your Ideal Customers

In as much as finding your ideal customers is important when you run a business, so is attracting them to you. As your business becomes more established, you hope for customers to find you through word of mouth, online marketing or any other means. There are specific things that you can do to increase discoverability and attract buying customers. Although some may require you invest a significant amount of money, others will require simple changes in your messaging or giving customers incentives. Here are simple ways to attract your ideal customer if that’s your end goal.

Don’t Neglect Word of Mouth

Although every form of marketing has its own appeal, it can still be argued that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. With that being said, ensure that you focus on offering quality services to every customer that you engage with as this will increase the likelihood of them referring you. This can be done by improving the entire customer experience from start to finish. A couple of tips for doing that is working towards meeting customer needs and streamlining communication.

Improve Your Website

Your website is a powerful tool when it comes to attracting customers, so work on improving it periodically. When you have an effective website, you’re more likely to have engaged customers on your site that follow through with calls to action. Below are a few ways that you can upgrade your website and make it better.

Design: Your website should look appealing and represent your brand as well as what you stand for. Pay attention to your choice of typography, as well as the colors that you use. Hire a professional to design your website; it may be best to choose one that specializes in your industry. If you happen to run a law firm, then justlegalmarketing.com would be an ideal company to handle your design.

SEO: In addition to the design, SEO is another major aspect of your website to work on. This is where organic traffic will come from and one of the simplest ways to attract customers to you online. To improve SEO, be sure that all of the content that you create has targeted keywords and you optimize titles, URLs, and tags.

Content: The language, lexicon, and tone of your content will either draw prospects in or turn them away. Think about your messaging and whether it truly appeals to your audience. You can look at the language used by successful competitors and use that to gauge how effective yours is. Also, pay attention to the pages that get the most engagement, as it could indicate you’re doing something right.

Offer Attractive Services

At the end of the day, one of the easiest ways to attract customer is by offering competitive products or services. You can do so by truly understanding what your customers’ needs are and meeting those needs through your incentives. For some customers, premium service may be their need while for others, it could be low rates. Value for money is ultimately what will also give you the word of mouth and competitive advantage you need.

Podcasts – 7 Reasons Why Marketers Need Them

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Asia/Pacific Podcasting Conference, held here in Auckland. It was a fantastic two day event that showcased a number of talented speakers and presented some interesting ideas towards the future of podcasts.

Asia-Pacific-Podcast-Conference-logo

We use some sort of variation of podcasting with a number of our clients, and the buzz remaining from the Asia/Pacific Podcasting Conference got me thinking:

Is there substantial value to be gained from adding a podcast to your marketing mix?

I would argue yes, absolutely. Let me explain why…

podcasts are taking off1 – It’s going to be huge!

Podcasting is currently experiencing massive amounts of growth around the world. There are over 1 billion subscriptions to over 250,000 podcasts right now. With technology constantly improving, it is becoming ever more popular among the digital savvy.

2 – But, it isn’t as common as blogging… yet.

Which is a good thing. As more people start podcasting, competition increases and therefore, so does the overall quality of podcasts. Can you afford to wait until your competitors are experts before you join the race? As an early adopter, you have free reign to influence this goldmine of a marketplace as you like! Being seen as original and a pioneer can do wonders for your brand’s credibility.

3 – It is incredibly easy to do!

Sure, you have to feel comfortable on a microphone and possibly a camera too, projecting yourself to what could be… millions of people! But you could record your podcast from your bed if you wanted, never having to see these people hanging on your every word, which should help alleviate some of those nerves!

Worried that you don’t have anything to talk about, or don’t know enough about a subject to be an ‘authority’ on it? Fear not! Some of the greatest podcasters out there started out not knowing what they were talking about, but they did it anyway because THEY wanted to learn. In the process, they helped educate their audience and became known as the authorities in their chosen topic!

4 – You need but a few resources to get started.podcast equipment

Actually, all you really need is; an idea, a passion for that idea, a webcam/microphone/laptop/smartphone, maybe a co-host or guest and you’re basically away! It couldn’t be simpler. With ever-improving technological advancements, it’s getting quicker and easier to publish your content online without the assistance of a film crew or recording studio.

This also makes it incredibly time-efficient to produce a decent show as well! If you know what you’ll be talking about and a rough idea how to use the equipment, you can put together a clean, engaging show in a few hours! Obviously, this is dependent on how much editing and fine tuning you may need. You can be sure though, with practice, that time will get shorter and shorter as you perfect your craft!

5 – People engage in it.podcasts build community

Who has time to read lengthy blog articles anymore? Well, still a lot of people. But the point is, a podcast, if done right, will entertain you in a way that words on a page cannot. We lose so much emotion and sentiment in text, but those elements are carefully preserved when you listen to two people passionately discussing a topic.

Podcasting also allows for direct contact with your community/audience. Who wouldn’t become a raving fan of your show if you were personally shouting out to them? The very nature of a podcast immediately makes the listener/viewer feel like a part of your conversation and therefore, more likely to engage with your brand.

Podcasts should also be fun!
Yes, it may be difficult to make something like tax accounting sound fun, but at least it gives you a stage and a spotlight to express your personality or your brand’s character. This alone may be enough to sway any potential customers from a competitor and into your corner.

friends6 – Podcasts feel genuine.

Podcasts are typically independent of any large branding agencies and thus are ‘uncorrupted’ by the guise of corporate advertising. That’s not to say they are all without their own agendas. However, people seem to respond better to marketing sales pitches when they are delivered through a conversation, instead of being forced upon us by advertising agencies. This creates a unique environment for you to promote and sell your product/services without feeling like an infomercial.

7 – Versatility.

Podcasts can be enjoyed in places where reading a blog cannot! Your commute to and from work, while you sweat out the kilometres on the treadmill at the gym, while you walk your dog, cook dinner, sit in the bath or simply drown out the distractions of your surroundings.

microphoneAre you ready to start podcasting yet?

As businesses look for new platforms to compete for and connect with their customers, podcasting is sure to experience a major growth spurt as marketers seek to capitalise in the near future. In an industry driven by building ‘community’ and offering tailored experiences for their customers, podcasting offers both one of the most engaging ways of connecting and creates the perfect platform to deliver incredibly high-value content.

Of course, these aren’t the only reasons to get into podcasting. Check out these interesting statistics: Big Time Podcasting Statistics and Demographics if you need further persuasion.

If you previously discounted the idea of adding a podcast to your marketing mix, perhaps now is the time to reconsider.