Using the telephone to sell directly to customers is an old trick in the marketing book, but telemarketing services have suffered greatly from the introduction of the Do Not Call register (DNC) in 2003. The bill is a godsend for consumers who were plagued by cold calls from financial institutions, charities and bogus competition lines every day. But for the $28.4bn telemarketing industry it was a wake-up call like none before.
Telemarketing companies can face fines of up to $11,000 for calling any domestic consumer who has registered with the DNC. The scheme was launched in June 2003 and in the first year alone roughly 733,333 consumers registered each day - that's over 30,000 an hour. It's clear that the traditional face of telemarketing has undergone a fundamental and irreversible change.
The knock-on effect for the direct marketing industry and telemarketing services in particular has been huge. Almost 60 million Americans have firmly said that they do not wish to receive cold calls, and their deep resentment at being called at home and offered products or services they have not requested has festered into an outpouring of ill-feeling towards telemarketing services.
As a business wishing to gain new customers or market to your existing customers the telemarketing route is now tougher than ever. The DNC ruling has been cited as a reason for the closure of many telemarketing companies and the rush back to direct mail marketing has seen a boom for the printing industry instead.
You may want to expand your telemarketing sector to other areas of direct marketing such as taking incoming calls and replying to emails. A centralized marketing approach will ensure consistent, high quality customer service and allows you to garner customer information and use it when you do make contact by phone.
If you plan to use the telephone to continue marketing you need to create a clear telemarketing strategy. Your customer database needs to be as thorough and effective as possible - and you need permission from customers to call them. It is imperative that you get customers to register their details online or in store. To get them to give you permission to contact them at a later date you must pique their interest and sell them the idea of a special, personalized information service that is only open to them if they register.
When calling don't overstep the line and throw a hard sales pitch at an existing customer or they're likely to ask to be removed from your calling list. Keep the call personalized, if they purchased an item last year and the warranty is about to run out, call them, remind them and ask if they'd like to purchase an extended warranty. Make it sound like you're looking out for them.
For business customers always be on the look out for products that might interest them, if you can truly offer them a service they can't receive elsewhere or inform them about new products before they find out for themselves, they'll look forward to your calls as a potential route to giving their business a commercial edge.
The Do Not Call register has forced most companies to re-examine their targets and campaigns. Make the changes to the telemarketing services industry an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Improve your overall service and customer satisfaction ratings should soar.