What’s in your freebie business toolkit?

Here’s my list of freebies that I often recommend to help with businesses starting up and marketing on a shoestring. 

1)                 Free:  WordPress blogs

2)                 Free:  Social media such as twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc but also not forgetting business forums such as ukbusinessforums.co.uk for forming business relationships and getting advice and support

3)                 Free:  Directory listings such as freeindex

4)                 Free:  Spreadsheets for Accounting and bookkeeping or ask your accountant

5)                 Free:  12pay.co.uk for payroll software with payslips and links to HMRC

6)                 Free CRM systems such as Zoho (there are others too but this is my current favourite)

7)                 Free VOIP number from Voipfone or geographical  numbers from £1.99 per month

8)                 Free TPS checks from either tps-manage (only 5 per day) or £10 per month for unlimited checks via Selectabase

9)                 Free advice and courses from Business Link. Some grants also available (varies by region/industry/need/size of business and when they are offered etc)

10)             Free:  Companies House webcheck to check companies details such as registered office

11)             Free surveys, great for market research from surveymonkeys

12)             Free bulk email trial from Constant contact but there are other systems that offer some free use too.

13)             Free networking events if you go as a guest with someone else

14)             Free landline call packages usually available for small subscription upgrade.

15)             Microsoft Security Essentials for virus protection

 So what’s in your free toolkit?

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Telemarketer’s twitter tips

Maybe my tips as a telemarketer who uses Twitter will vary a bit from the run of the mill Twitter tips so here goes …

1) a key skill of a telemarketer is about listening. This is not just to be polite, or a feel good factor, but is a very productive and efficient use of time. Twitter is a fabulous tool for listening to conversations … Where are peoples needs, what are they having pains with, what solutions are they looking for. Listening is the first key step to identifying and locating prospects. I am not suggesting that you dive in and start spamming fellow tweeters with unsolicited sales pitches, but I am suggesting that you can use Twitter as a tool for identifying trends relating to your industry or service or product and identify groups of people that may be a good target audience.

2) Targeted conversations with fellow tweeters is possible by using the advanced twitter search function. This can often be more reliable than some purchased data lists as contact details are provided on tweeters profiles.

3) Do not start phoning without having checked the phone numbers via TPS or CTPS as just because they are on Twitter and are a business does not mean your call is not unsolicited!

4) Similarly do not start emailing either without permission. Even though you may legally be able to do this if it is a business and not emailed from a bulk email tool, emailing without permission is likely to end up in the trash bin and a reputation gained for spamming.

5) Do your homework and see what they have tweeted about previously, have a look through websites and blog articles. Make references if you need to when on the phone to demonstrate you have visited their site or blog and make a connection with people.

6) Think about what you would like to come away with from the call. Permission to send an email perhaps, or invite a sign up to newsletter maybe. Or maybe an appointment to meet face to face at a dedicated appointment or even a networking event that you may both be attending. Maybe even arrange a call back to discuss a proposal.

7) Follow up with special contact depending on the call outcome. Blanket or standard emails do not make people feel special or demonstrate that you have specifically listened properly to anything that mat have come up in conversation.

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34% of Accountants don’t answer the phone!

This is much higher than we usually experience for no answers / engaged / answering machines compared with other industries that we call and these calls were made during normal office hours and not at lunchtime.

Does this mean that the popularity of call answering services for accountants is reducing?

Does it perhaps mean that they are too busy to answer the phone?

Does it mean that it is an indication generally that some Accountants are less customer focused that other businesses?

Apologies to those who are providing a great service but I really thought I should share this so that the other 66% of Accountants can feel happy with themselves.

But really, what is a company saying about itself when the first impression a potential new customer has when they try to call is that they cannot get through? It doesn’t inspire confidence that future enquiries and queries will be handled promptly.

And what marketing spend is being wasted either through pay-per-click campaigns, telemarketing, direct mail etc, when the potential new client decides to call and then is put off by there being no answer…or even worse, an answering machine message saying “sorry but the office is closed now until Monday”.  I mean, come on, it’s only Wednesday today!

None of these Accountants that we called today gave callers the opportunity to wait in a queue if they wanted to.  Just zero, nothing, zilch, not even the option of a mobile number to call, or an indication of when they would be available.

Just thought I would share 🙂

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Marketing for Annual Accounts and Returns by Postcode

It’s that time of year when accountancy firms are targeting companies with filing dates of 31st March. This is the biggest anniversary of the year and we are already being asked to make follow up calls after direct mailings.

The opportunity is probably bigger now as more companies have attempted DIY and need an Accountant at the last minute.  There seems to be more posts at UKBF for urgent assistance. Perhaps this is influenced by less time to file and penalties and dissolutions seem to be happening quicker.

Accountants have recognised filing dates as marketing opportunities for a long time and it is nothing new.  It is a good excuse to make contact and introduce services.

The problems come with getting data. Companies house data products are quite expensive and unmanageable for a lot of users.  Magnetic tape updates available either daily or weekly at £48k or “24k per annum.  DVD’s are available at £1000 but the versions either require a system that caters for 2.8m records approximately or time consuming copying and pasting from a browser.  The £30 one off CD is not currently being produced.

No marketing information is available with CH products such as contact names, phone numbers, TPS/CTPS checks, email addresses, trading addresses and so it is difficult to arrive at accurate daily CH data with marketing information.

Only 16% of Accountants were using Companies House data products regularly

This was one statistic that came from our market research in October. Others were using work-arounds that were time consuming with poor marketing efforts.

From the work we have undertaken so far, the results have been encouraging.  Some accountants even ended up with more work from existing clients (ie; shareholdings needed to be changed before filing the annual return, or because they decided to delegate more work)

A key thing to mention is brand awareness and reputation.  If a target audience gets a regular impression of professionalism, efficiency, and value for money then it can lead to valuable sales pipeline for new business.

This is why we have launched this marketing service where we identify prospects, contact them by phone, letter and/or email to introduce services in the accountant’s name, and use our selling skills to articulate the benefits of using that particular practice.

Accountant’s can now subscribe to a service which does everything for them with a supplier who understands lead generation for Accountants.  Pricing is either on a fixed monthly cost or pay-per-lead basis with a guarantee of delivering qualified leads.

To find out more please email us at info@maxxy.co.uk or visit http://www.maxxy.co.uk/Telemarketing/Overdue_accounts_and_annual_returns_service.htm

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Regards, Max

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Finding an Accountant

Business link’s first paragraph says “It’s important to select an accountant who’s right for your business” and they have a checklist on their site as follows:

  • ask about their qualifications
  • find out how many partners there are in the practice
  • investigate whether they are experienced in dealing with businesses of a similar size and at a similar stage of growth to yours
  • assess whether they understand your business sector and its needs
  • find out who will look after your business on a day-to-day basis
  • ask about their estimated response times
  • ask whether the service you will receive will be proactive – eg whether they will remind you when you need to submit accounts, or send you updates on changes in tax law
  • find out if they offer any additional services – eg inheritance planning or advice on information systems
  • ask whether the practice offers any specialist services – eg in start-ups or stock-market listing
  • investigate their charges and what they cover – find out if a fixed fee can be arranged for the first 12 months

I thought it would be useful for me to expand and contribute to some of these points based on my experience of telemarketing for accountants as I regularly gather feedback from people that I speak with who are considering finding an accountant or moving accountants.

Qualifications, whether they understand your business sector and its needs, and whether the practice offers specialist services.

There is such an array of qualifications from the UK and abroad that people can use to advertise their services without people really understanding the difference in them and what it means to them and their business.

Example 1:  The Diploma in Charity Accounting (DChA) is a qualification issued by the The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW). (see Toni Hunter’s blog for more info here) yet the people that I have spoken with in the charity sector have been largely unaware of this qualification and the potential benefits that using someone who has studied specifically in their sectors accounting needs could bring.

Example 2):  The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a scheme relevant to people in the construction industry requiring contributions to be made directly to HMRC relevant to construction sub-contractors.  Among other things, it means that statements need to be issued showing contributions made and for returns to be submitted monthly.  Some accountants have been known to interpret this as a voluntary scheme rather than a mandatory one, but that is a whole different blog article!

Admittedly, qualifications are not everything, and it’s what you do with them that counts, but it should go some way to giving a certain level of confidence and trust in technical ability.

It is difficult for most prospective client’s to try and assess whether an accountant understands their business sector and it’s needs relevant to accounting and financial business advice because put simply “they-don’t-know-what-they-don’t know”.

Something else that can make things difficult is the use of language as one accountant pointed out to me recently.  She explained that some accountants, especially highly qualified tax advisers can slip into jargon and spout case law and legislation. This is off-putting for the client as it is more useful to explain complex matters in a way that the business owner understands and this is crucial to a good professional relationship.

So perhaps these are some of the reasons why people resort to choosing an Accountant purely because they are a friend of the family, or have convenient office location with lots of parking, or other reason not related to Qualifications, industry experience, and professionalism.  

Where to find a good accountant

Business link suggest that the best way to find a good accountant is by using professional associations or through personal recommendations and say it can be “helpful to ask for recommendations from:

  • friends, family, business associates and contacts
  • bank or lawyer
  • professional or trade associations – this can be a particularly useful route if you’re looking for an accountant that specialises in your industry.”

However, going back to the previous points about Qualifications and Experience in business sectors and relevant to the business needs, it is possibly not the best idea to rely on recommendations from friends, family, business associates and contacts who do not have an appreciation of the business and the business sectors needs.

Business link also say “Once you have found some names and considered their reputations and qualifications, you should draw up a shortlist of about six accountants you’d like to contact.”

This can be time consuming and baffling and it is sometimes a reason why people will actually talk with a telemarketer who is aware of qualifications, industry specific needs, and needs particular to that business to.  People do consider our suggestions in line with other recommendations as it is another source of information for them rather than just friends, family, or business associates not in their industry or with different needs.    

 Business Link suggest that the relationship with an Accountant is reviewed every 3 to 5 years

 Their website says “The needs of any business do not stand still and a good accountant should adapt with you. However, every three to five years, it can make good business sense to ask:

  • Is my business still getting value for money?
  • Is my accountant informative and easy to contact?
  • Does my accountant still suit the needs of my business?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it could be time to find another accountant who is better suited to your current requirements.”

From our experience at Maxxy, not many people review the relationship with their Accountant that often.  Some will be prompted to review after an unsatisfactory event or when a change is imposed (such as the Accountant’s moving office location or change in the person dealing with day to day affairs) but not many people deliberately make a point of reviewing the relationship when things are ticking along satisfactorily even if they could potentially save money in fees or get better value for money elsewhere.

A telemarketing call can sometimes serve as a prompt to find out a bit more information and consider a review of services for their business needs.

I would be happy to hear people’s views and a link to the Business Link site that I have used as a source of information is here

Regards

Max

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Anyone using XML Gateway at Companies House?

This blog article is just intended to find out a bit more and share information on use with the Companies House XML Gateway.

From reading the documents and talking with Companies House it seems to enable a search by a list of company numbers and pull back information in a prescribed format quickly, saving time and effort in looking up information one by one through web-check or through subscribing to other data products and doing look ups offline.

Sorry if I am waffling but just finding out a bit more at this stage as it would be useful for our telemarketing lists to refresh against company status etc as part of our data cleansing.

The subscription I believe is £5.88 per month + VAT and more info can be found at http://xmlgw.companieshouse.gov.uk/

Thanks for comments 🙂

Max

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Gentle Telemarketing that gets results

You know you need to do it but dread the thought of cold calling.  Here are a few ideas if you would like to ease in gently to cold calling, where a gentle approach to making calls could make it more comfortable and build confidence

Market Research Calls

Do a survey by phone and have an online version to send out with an email where the purpose of the exercise is to gather info. This is good as

a) you get email addresses for ongoing marketing/newsletters/promotions etc

b) it gets conversations going with out any pressure to sell,

c) the results of the market research can help you look at things objectively and can be a huge confidence boost to get on the phone later when you know what people like across the board.

Do an “Opt in” campaign

These calls are purely calling to introduce yourself and ask who would be the best person to send some info to by email, capture the relevant email address. Be prepared to have conversations about your product or service as people don’t like to give their email addresses out willy-nilly but this is really about having conversations rather than “must-get-a-sale”.

Call friendly people

Calls to friendly suppliers, people in the industry, influencers can be useful to see if they would refer others to you and again just to have conversations and see what comes out of it.  From these calls you can possibly send info to them or explore joint marketing opportunities

Call an “A” List

Build up a highly targeted list, and really do your homework before you get on the phone so you know what their business is like, have an idea what their needs are, who the decision makers are in the business etc. When you start making calls to these people you will have the feeling and attitude that these are likely to be more interested than anyone else on your other lists and mentally you are likely to feel better prepared for any questions that you receive.

Realistic expectations

Don’t have unrealistic expectations from cold calling… just keep a note of how many call attempts you make, how many conversations you actually have with decision makers, how many not-interested, send me info, quotes, appointments.  When you make future calls you will know what the realistic ratios are likely to be so you don’t focus on the rejections just how many you need to make to build up some good pipeline and instant leads.

Hope this helps and would be interested to hear other views on gentle telemarketing.

Please note that TPS/CTPS checks are still required for all types of unsolicited cold calls.  For market research calls a check is not required but you must not promote your business (contact trading standards for more guidance).

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Quick fix telemarketing consultancy

I did some work today on site with one of my regular clients, in a short amount of time and at short notice and referred to my reliable checklist of things to review. 

  • CRM system
  • Planning
  • Data
  • Delivery & Approaches
  • Review & Change

CRM systems are really important in my view to capture all information relating to calls being made and to organise campaigns and prospect records properly.  I’ve seen calls made with a paper list, ruler and red pen and also with the most sophisticated and complex CRM systems.  I always review the CRM system as having something that is quick to navigate presenting all the relevant information for familiarisation before each call, with a quick update facility can make a difference to achieving 6 calls per hour to 25 calls per hour and influence how effective the calls are.

Planning is another quick area to review.  It’s not just a matter of “right, where’s my next list” but taking the time to plan the approach of the telemarketing call. Take the time to think about target audiences rather than broad-brush approach and why they are your target audience. For every call think about what is really in it for the prospect?  What preparation needs to be done if any and how can benefits best be articulated in a concise and attractive way.  Lots of people forget their USP (Unique Selling Point) and how it may be perceived by the person being called.  Is it strong, weak, special enough to them?

Data can make or break a campaign so it is worth checking how accurate data is, what other options there are available to enhance or check data accuracy or even purchase new data.

Delivery and approach is the area that a lot of people jump to straight away.  Usually on the basis that it’s all about the approach ie; how you pitch, how you come across on the phone, how you listen etc and this is important but in context with other things too.  It is this bit that can be seen as a measure of how good the telemarketer is by the results they get at this point. This can put a lot of pressure on the performance of the sales pitch.  Personally I hate this as it is uncomfortable for both the telemarketer and the prospect.  The prospect feels uncomfortable to say no and the telemarketer feels they have to push past that no.  It is much better in to have a planned and prepared approach, to come across naturally and properly listen for opportunities to then match their specific requirements with appropriate offers.  A couple of common tips that I give are to speak a little bit more loudly as this can convey confidence and also a bit slower than in real life so that the call doesn’t come across as hurried or scripted in any way.   Asking open questions early in the call can encourage dialogue too.

It is a good idea to review and change regularly too.  Keeping records of performance in terms of how many call attempts made, how many actual conversations have been had with decision makers and their responses will help to improve the preparation, approach and in some cases the basis of the actual offer depending on the responses being received.

I hope this helps as a short quick fix list and good luck

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Do you track Annual Returns that you are not responsible for?

During a telemarketing campaign last week we called a prospect that had gone overdue with their Annual Return the day before.

The prospect was one of our Accountancy client’s existing customers.

The Accountant did not track the return as he wasn’t responsible for performing this task as it was something that his customer decided to keep in house and do themselves.

The telephone call prompted further work for the Accountant (our client) as they had a more complicated piece of work to do with reviewing shareholding amongst other things.

So this prompted me to think about whether Accountants and Bookkeepers monitor performance of Annual Returns being filed on time for their clients, even if they are not responsible for this and I thought I would put up this quick poll for us all to see the outcome.

Thanks for reading and sharing 🙂

Max

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Telemarketing for Payroll Services

Close up of payslipI have recently been asked to share some information on the telemarketing campaigns that we have done for payroll and what the main objections and reasons for prospects not being interested are.

So here are the top reasons (excluding where there is no need such as no employees or handled by head office) 

 

 

 

1st – In house staff are employed to perform the payroll function

2nd – Their Accountant has been used for a long time to handle payroll

3rd – A fixed fee arrangement is in place with their Accountant and the prospect does not feel they could move or save money.

4th – They are using a family member to handle payroll.

Given these top reasons, there is an opportunity to highlight areas as part of the telemarketing campaign for payroll services such as:

  • Keeping up to date with payroll and employee legislation and changes can be difficult for in house staff ie; time out of the work place is required to specifically seek updates, lack of support network with industry experience and qualifications, the “on-costs” associated with an employee such as holidays, sickness, employers NI, covering absence such as holidays and sickness by a lesser competent member of staff, less likely to be as efficient and as cost effective than a payroll bureau who has invested in technology and staff. 
  • Using an accountant for a very long time for payroll gives an element of comfort but does not necessarily encourage continuous improvement in terms of value for money, or service provided to the employer and employees. Prospects falling into this category are unwilling to consider change unless there is a very strong offer and appeal. 
  • Using an accountant on a fixed fee basis does not provide transparency in terms of the fees in relation specifically to the payroll service. Prospects are encouraged to identify what the cost reduction would be in fees if payroll was not a part of the package or to ask for a breakdown of how fees are calculated to be able to make an informed decision. 
  • Family members can be a risk in terms of dependency on one person and there are the same disadvantages as for using a staff member. 
  • In all cases professional indemnity is also a consideration along with skills and competence which impact on the payroll service provided in relation to the cost.

What makes a payroll telemarketing campaign more successful than others? 

  • Having a strong introductory offer 
  • Make pricing relevant to the prospect’s number of employees rather than wide bandings of employees 
  • Show testimonials relevant by industry 
  • Demonstrate industry relevance and benefits

If you would like to know further information or to enquire about how we can help with a telemarketing campaign for payroll please email me at maxine@maxxy.co.uk or call 01480 878 082

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Telemarketing for Marketing Consultants / Agencies

Why have 30% opt ins when you could have 70%

Marketing Consultants are under so much pressure to get results from campaigns and this can be made more difficult due to the following:

  1. Their client chooses their own Telemarketer and liaises with them directly.3 people arms crossed with speech
  2. Clients don’t know how to choose their telemarketer.
  3. Marketing Consultants are not in control.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tips and Things to Consider:

  • Skills & experience – the variety and tailoring of a Telemarketer will achieve better results.
  • A trial  – this enables the Marketing Consultant to change and tweak if/where necessary resulting in the client having confidence in the results and seeing it for themselves.
  • Management Information and Feedback – the telemarketer is able to share, as appropriate, with the client.  The Marketing Consultant has tried and tested reports which can assist with future campaigns.
  • Trade Discount – Why not have a financial reward for the strategy you have put into place?  Some Telemarketing Companies like us offer a Trade Price allowing the Marketing Consultant to make money on top.
  • Remove the Middle Man – This keeps the Marketing Consultant in complete control over the Marketing Strategy they recommended, steering the execution in the right direction to meet client objectives.  The Marketing Consultant can take quick action to ensure the end result is to the client’s satisfaction which may not be the case if the Marketing Consultant has no influence in the day to day running of the telemarketing campaign.
  • Understanding the Brief – Telemarketers need to be aware of the Target Audience, Marketing Message, Offers, Things to Avoid, Priorities etc and with this information it will maximise results and capture all opportunities.  Who better to relay the brief than the Marketing Consultant?  Often clients will try and communicate this but unless this is a shared view across all parties confusion may set in and opportunities lost.
  • Mailshot Sending – If the telemarketing company is able to send out the ebroadcasts as part of the campaign this enables them to manage the bounces themselves and get back on the phone to optimise results without having to go through the Marketing Consultant unnecessarily which in turn increases results.
  • Persuasive Opt Ins – The right Telemarketer is the difference between 30% opt in and 70% as just asking for an email address with little skill and persuasion is likely to result in fewer email addresses being obtained.  This is a key area to maximise overall results for the client.
  • Client Experience – Imagine the scenario with the client playing ‘piggy in the middle’ asking questions and delivering feedback from the Telemarketer to the Marketing Consultant and then vice versa.  Not only is this really frustrating for the client but can impact heavily on the overall results.

I hope these tips help you get better results from Telemarketing and it becomes a more pleasurable experience for your clients too as you will be delivering better results.

Thanks for reading.

Anna

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Cold Calling Teachers

Here are a few tips if you are cold calling to school teachers

terrified woman behind a big pile of booksTeachers are very busy people and don’t appreciate being interrupted during their busy schedule for cold calls.

Now before you say it.. I know that nobody does!

However, cold calling is a way of business life and those that feel strongly will opt out of receiving cold calls by subscribing to the TPS/CTPS (Telephone Preference Service or Corporate Telephone Preference Service).

Some of us make cold calls for a variety of reasons and just because they may have been written to first or emailed doesn’t make them any warmer… they are still “unsolicited”.

So here are my few tips for anyone cold calling to teachers in schools

  • Don’t assume that the end of the school day is the best time to call as often there are staff meetings, parents meetings, clubs or other activities and events.
  • Find out when the teacher next has a free period as this can be a good time to call.
  • Early morning calls ie; 7.30-8.30am can also be good before the actual start of the school day.
  • Manage a very tight call back diary – call back precisely at the times they have given you. 
  • Have everything to hand such as pricing and diary information as you may not get another chance for a while if you or they need to call back.
  • Be prepared to have conversations during the evenings on their personal mobile numbers if they ask you for this.
  • Use a combination of telephone and email to respect their time.
  • Accept there is a higher than usual drop-out rate of appointments so keep meetings as short as possible or teachers will be too reluctant to commit to a meeting or visit.
  • Cleanse prospect and contact data frequently as staff change responsibilities.

Good luck and hope you find my tips useful 🙂   Comments welcome as always

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Top 10 – What Not To Do (Telemarketing)

We all assume that everyone knows how to make a telephone call in the business world don’t we?  Well, after a few surprises that let me know this was not the case, I thought I would put some down, so here are 10 of my ‘what not to do when making telemarketing calls’ points!

  • Eat whilst speaking, that includes chewing gum.
  • Continue conversation with colleague (or yourself) when your call has been answered.
  • Being down! It really does come across in your voice so smile.
  • Tut or sigh – You would be surprised how many don’t realise they are even doing it!
  • Smoke a cigarette/cigar/pipe or anything else for that matter.
  • Interrupt – if you have asked a question then let them answer it!
  • Sound like you are reading a ‘script’ even if you are – natural communication is key!
  • Ignore rapport signals – if they mention it’s their birthday, engage them!
  • ‘Mate’, ‘Dear’, ‘Sweetheart’ & ‘Love’ are not good ways to address your contact!
  • Swear! You may not think ‘crap’ is a swear word but others will – don’t risk it!

I am sure we could make it 101 but these are just a few I have thought of and come across in the past month!  Share some of yours with us as I would like to know what other people have had to address!

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Cold Calling to Solicitors

pink and black solicitors image 190x 165I get asked to share stats so here are a few from today from a sample of cold calls made to Solicitors in London to generate leads for Accountancy Services.

23% of all Call Attempts were unsuccessful.  This was because either because the line was engaged (20%) or it was not answered at all (25%) or it went straight to voicemail or answering machine (55%)

38% of the voicemail messages stated that the Solicitors Offices were closed for lunch between 1-2pm so this is a time to avoid for cold calling.

Over half of the successful calls, either opted in to receive further information by email or by post (and a small proportion of these became fully qualified for appointments or call backs)

The main reasons given for not being interested in our call or changing Accountants was as follows:

  • Not receptive to cold calls 28%
  • Inhouse Accountant 27%
  • Been with Accountant a very long time 18%
  • Family member employed as Accountant 9%
  • Very happy with existing Accountant 9%
  • Practice is Closing for various reasons 9%

I hope this is of interest and would be interested to hear your comments

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Exhibition Assistance for Business Focus 9th Oct

We will shortly be promoting our services to provide assistance to Exhibitors at the Business Focus, Meet the Buyer event on 9th Oct at Peterborough but wanted to offer this to our twitter friends first 🙂  

crowds in the interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are only a small team so if you would like to book for someone to assist you as an exhibitor at this event, please contact us asap as we expect to get booked very quickly.

  • Generate interest in your product or service at your stand
  • Use the time to mingle and network with other exhibitors and guests without missing opportunities at your stand
  • Don’t feel guilty about going to lunch or for a break
  • Make use of our sales skills and experience
  • Capture information on visitors for pipeline and use after the event

“Thankyou so much for womaning our stall yesterday at the Chamber of Commerce/FSB Business Fayre at Wood Green, Huntingdon.
So many leads and quotes, I am so impressed by Maxine and Anna, so professional and productive, will be employing again for sure. 

Sallie Steward, MD, Easiprint, Cambs

 

More information about the event can be found at http://www.businessfocus.uk.net/programme.asp

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Working with IFA’s and their Clients

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Would you point out spelling mistakes on websites?

I am probably showing my age and I don’t mean to be a spelling snob but I think it can really put readers off when there are spelling mistakes all over a website.

So, the question is would you contact a complete stranger to let them know of their spelling mistakes?

And, would you want other people to point out spelling mistakes to you if they were on your website?

Max 🙂

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Visiting Exhibitions for Lead Generation

crowds in the interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been generating leads via telemarketing for the past six months for one of my clients and they asked me to attend an exhibition as a visitor with their Business Development Manager in London this week. 

I was so pleased! 

A few tips for anyone thinking of doing this as part of lead generation…

1)      Go through exhibitor list in advance to mark out prospective companies to target

If the list is available before the show this can provide an opportunity to research the companies before the event but if the list is only available on the day then it is worth taking a moment  to go through the exhibitors list and highlight potential prospects or influencers and people worth talking with.

2)      Don’t disrupt the exhibitors selling

The key to getting leads at a show like this is to remember that the exhibitors are there to sell and not be sold too so if you are at a stand that is busy you won’t get a pleasant welcome, especially if you go in on a ‘hard sell’.  If you wait until they are alone and enter into a conversation they are much more receptive.

3)      Pick your moment to talk

Visiting a stand can encourage people to stop and see what is there of interest and also if the exhibitor doesn’t have anyone there to sell too, this is an ideal time to ask them questions about their product etc.

4)      Engage with the sales person

Remember that companies normally put their ‘sales’ people on exhibition stands so the person you are speaking with may not necessary be the decision maker you need for your product or service, however, it does allow you to extract some relevant information on the company and to exchange business cards which does ensure you can follow this up after the show.

5)      Have realistic expectations

Keep your expectations realistic.  You are unlikely to get a signed order form on the day of the exhibition but it is a great way of interacting with potential clients and anyway face to face is harder to hang up on :).  Being a visitor to relevant exhibitions for your industry can be a good way of gaining pipeline that can be nurtured to convert to a sale once you are both back in the office.  Plus some exhibitions are free to attend and it is just the cost of your time to network with your target audience.

6)      Wear comfy shoes!

My last tip but definitely one of the most important!

Written by Anna West, Regional Director

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My Wife Hates Cold Calling!

I heard this phrase today and I have heard this several times in the past couple of months.

Would rather iron than cold callThe scenario is husband and wife businesses and it is the wife that does the cold calling. 

She finds it an unpleasant task (a bit like the ironing I suspect) as no matter how much you do there is always more the following week!

In the last two times that I heard the phrase “My wife hates cold calling” I asked why and in both conversations it was because they always get told that they have a supplier for that already, thank you and goodbye.

Three things here that might help the cold-calling wife keep her sanity a little bit longer…

 

1)  Expectations

Did you really think that a call could be made out of the blue to someone who was not expecting your call, who probably sees the call as an interuption, and who has a supplier already, and that they would switch from them to you on the basis of a quick introductory script? 

It doesn’t usually work like that although sometimes luck and timing plays a part (and the more one practises the luckier one can get!).  But, this is a tough expectation to have when preparing for cold calling as it can lead to feelings of rejection, failure, and demotivation.  This then can come across on the phone.  

So consider re-setting expectations to suit the purpose of the first (cold) call unless there really is an immediate take up required ie; short notice special offer, limited time period etc.

Most of the time a cold call can simply have the expected outcome of just researching the need, qualifying the prospect, introducing the benefits of your company, and generally listening for information on your competitors and opportunities for you. Aim to just obtain permission to send targetted, relevant and appealing information to the decision maker and if you get an appointment as an alternative to that then great.  If not, the follow up call is much more enjoyable as the prospect/decision maker has already had one conversation with you and hopefully will have read some literature or information that you have sent relevant to their need and they will be aware of your company, how you can benefit them and be ready to have a discussion knowing that you are likely to ask for an appointment or order.

2)  It is great that they use someone already!

I am not being sarcastic.  It is great that they use someone already as it confirms they have a need for a supplier similar to you.  The right sort of questions and listening and responding accordingly can get a very powerful dialogue flowing.

Ask what would they improve?  What do they particularly like?  If they could change any aspect of the product or service offered what would it be? What do they think would work a bit better for their particular organisation and clients?

Do your homework and really know your strong points in comparison to your competitors for this particular type of customers so that you can easily refer to these points in the conversation.

3)  Keep A Record

Keeping a record of who you have phoned together with the outcomes of each call can help you plot performance in terms of how many call attempts made, whether a conversation was had with the decision maker, how many agree to receive further information or a follow up call, or how many book an appointment.  In a simple form and in the absence of a CRM system, a 5 bar gate or tick sheet can be used, or even an excel spreadsheet.

This can be motivational as it helps to demonstrate how many call attempts and conversations are required before a need is identified, qualified, and follow up action agreed or appointments booked. It can be used for regular comparisions and realistic expectations.

Hope this helps and good luck.

Cold calling is still better than doing the ironing 🙂

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Maxxy’s twitter tips

I don’t know about you but I am finding that I am discovering twitter tips every day so here are some of my favorite things so far for bearing in mind that I am still a bit of newbie, so if I can use these things then you can too 🙂

1)  Twitter Snooze

I really like this as rather than unfollow someone you can just very quickly snooze them for a period of time.  I have used this where someone who usually has some meaningful tweets is having a little burst of self promotion and automated feeds.

2)  Tweetdeck – Some things I missed when I first started using it

Filters & Favourites: Helps when there is a large stream to look through you can quickly filter to include or exclude  tweets by name, text or source or just look at tweets from your favourite tweeters.

In reply to…  This helps to see what on earth you were tweeting about when someone replies or when there is a bit of a chatroom style tweeting going on, it can help you to keep up without scrolling back.

Clear seen tweets: So I am not looking at things more than once 🙂

3)  Hootsuite

I like the display and the easy way to schedule tweets for later and then also view stats. Also great for multiple accounts and multiple users.  I think compared with Tweetdeck is it much more difficult to send a tweet from a wrong account as you have to select which profile you are tweeting from whereas tweetdeck defaults to the account you were last in or viewing from.

4) Twitter Analyzer

Talking of stats, this is good to get an understanding of things that I wouldn’t notice as I went along in particular

Discarded friends:  This shows me who I ignored after they spoke with me (oops – sorry, I shall try harder!)

Retweeting Friends: Note to self to thank them

Online now: Quickly see who is online and likely to respond to an @ message or DM.

5)  Geographical follower searches – advanced search in twitter

This is good to find recent tweets for a mile radius from a postcode.  I have found it better to put a postcode in rather than a location to avoid similar locations in different countries.

6)  Friend or Follow . Com

This is so handy to check up on anyone that is following you that you haven’t followed back or to see the people that you are following that are not following you.  

7) We follow . com

Handy to search by # tags

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Getting past the Gate-keepers

I get asked the question “What is the best way to get past Gate-keepers?” and my answer is usually summarised “With respect and assertiveness”.

Remember

  • Gatekeepers have a job to do but they don’t run the organisation!
  • Their time is precious and you are an interruption.
  • They have heard it all before and even if they haven’t (and we know they haven’t) they think they have!
  • Remember that if they put your call through against that persons wishes or where the decision maker will perceive your call to be a waste of time  A) the gatekeeper will not be doing their job very well.   B) the person you get to talk to will be fairy unresponsive if they feel you have tricked or snuck past the gate-keeper and you may waste a valuable opportunity through being hasty.
  • They are empowered to make “judgement calls” so if they perceive your call to be of value to their organisation, they will usually assist you.

  DON’T

  •  Lie about who you are, where you are calling from, pretend that you are not selling anything, or pretend it is a personal call.  (These are the tips that some people give for getting past the gatekeeper but most are wise to this and will smell a rat and this just puts you in a difficult situation to recover from and not likely to get you anywhere in the long run)
  • Waffle or over-sell
  • Be cheesy or smarmy. Be careful with phrases such as “how are you today?”
  • Be rude, ignorant or arrogant.  Even if they are rude to you just let it wash over you, thank them for their time and even end the call if you need to rather than get drawn into an antagonistic conversation with a stroppy gatekeeper. It will get you nowhere and there is the risk that they will repeat their false or exaggerated version of events to anyone else that will listen.
  • Ask “to speak with whoever looks after…” or “the owner of the business”.  Get a name!

DO

  • Aim to strike up a rapport with the gatekeeper
  • Very succinctly explain the nature of your call, touch on the features of what is on offer, give an indication of the benefits. Where possible, try to make this relevant to their organisation or geographical location or anything else that makes a “connection”
  • Use them for Qualification purposes if you can by asking the right questions directly to the gatekeeper but be wary that there is the temptation just to get you off the phone and give you the brush off with incorrect answers so these need to be well thought out and skilful
  • Demonstrate that you have done your research and drop things into the conversation to show that you are not targeting them at random but because you think there could be benefits for them.
  • Demonstrate a good commercial understanding of their company and how they could potentially benefit and why you have chosen to call their company in particular
  • Ask or check with them who they feel would be the most appropriate person to speak with
  • Show empathy but be assertive. Don’t apologise for making your call or attempting to sell services and products but do show empathy if they are too busy to deal with you right now or if they are struggling to know who would be the best person to assist with your call – offer help such as “Is it the financial controller I should speak with?” or “I tend to speak with HR Managers usually, would that be the same for your company?”
  • Ask what would be the usual way to get to talk with the right person in their organisation and offer to send an email and call back if that is more appropriate and convenient.

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Filed under Cold Calling, Telemarketers

Put that Phone Book Down!

Reasons NOT to use The Phone Book for telemarketing…

  1. It is not TPS checked so you are breaking UK law if calling straight from it without TPS checking and could risk a £5k fine per call PLUS you will get some very angry people … are these likely to buy from you?
  2. Not all of your target audience will be in the phone book – consider time lag since publication, people who are not with BT or not advertised in Yellow Pages, businesses which use VOIP numbers, new businesses not yet listed, etc
  3. Numbers listed may not be in your geographical target area if using a non geographical number
  4. Companies may have ceased trading or have a poor credit rating
  5. There no contact names (or very few)
  6. There is no indication of size of business, sales turnover, credit rating, number of employees so difficult to know if they are your target audience
  7. You cannot share a book between several callers (although I have seen people rip pages out of the book and distribute pages to staff!)
  8. You cannot make notes for organised follow up with a diary system
  9. There is no indication of limited company or non limited if just trading names are published or they may be part of a franchise where purchasing power is held centrally.
  10. It is likely to be against the terms and conditions of the phone directory to use as a database or for unsolicited cold calls

Just because you see them do it on the Apprentice, it is not what successful telemarketers do (or we would starve and not be able to pay our bills). 

Profiled data lists can be purchased for telemarketing purposes inexpensively and the benefits of using a decent list will usually yield a good level of return on investment.

Some Telemarketers like us can provide data either in with their costs or at an extra cost depending on requirements or can refer you to a data supplier.

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Email and Telemarketing go Hand in Hand

Email marketing seems to be on the increase so I thought I would spend a minute to write down some of my thoughts and tips in this area regarding the overlap with telemarketing as we regularly get asked to assist in two main areas:

1) Obtain the email address of the relevant contact to send the email to.

2) Follow up emails to book appointments or obtain qualified leads

We are more than happy to just do the “Follow Ups” and whilst we enjoy doing this, we will not take on campaigns to follow up mass spam mailings as this reflects poorly on us, poorly on you and is likely to be a wasted investment in telemarketing costs.

Legal blurb

There are laws in the UK regarding sending emails. The sending of unsolicited emails ie; without permission is regarded as “Spam”. The consequences of this could lead to being blacklisted by your internet service provider*. There are those people that hold that view that if you are just sending the occasional email to business targets without using a mass email tool, then it is OK but, consider the image this gives to your target recipient as they don’t know if you have sent on bulk or just to them and there is the risk that they may immediately get the wrong impression of you.

When sending quite a few emails or using a bulk tool you should remember to

a) Get permission

b) Provide an Opt-Out facility

c) Provide your company details as the sender

Broadcast Emails

When sending out a large number of emails to a list of recipients who are not expecting it, this can be referred to as a “Broadcast” as it is just like putting out a message in the hope that people will tune in. This can be good if an Offer is especially attractive however because of spam filters it may not reach your ideal contact.

Targetted emails via “Opt-In” or “Permission Based” Telemarketing

These can be very powerful for both immediate email activity and future email activity.

· Email is sent to the most relevant person or people such as the Decision Maker Contact or the Key Influencer, who will be expecting the email from a conversation with a telemarketer introducing the product or service and outlining the benefits.

· The prospect is semi-qualified in that they have a need or have expressed an interest.

· Information is gathered on what their current situation is, leading to opportunities ie; do they have a supplier already, where are the opportunities to improve, what would appeal the most, what can be done better, what don’t they like at the moment etc. This provides an opportunity for tailored emails addressing these particular areas and highlighting benefits, providing relevant testimonials or business cases, work examples and more stronger and relevant Calls to Action.

· Timing of contract renewals, tender processes, purchasing reviews can be established so that ongoing emails can be organised appropriately

· The “Not Interested” can be wheedled out quickly to leave you with a Quality Pipeline to manage efficiently and effectively.

· Email attachments can be sent with appropriate information such as pdf documents with further information or links to web pages or blog articles.

Our Process for Opt In Campaigns

  • We provide profiled data
  • Calls are made to generate interest and obtain relevant email addresses with permission. This is important as some telemarketers will simply get on the phone and just ask for an email address without generating interest and this usually leads to a much lower Opt-In rate than could have been obtained as prospects are hesitant to give out email addresses just because they are asked for it. Generating interest may lead to a direct email address rather than one that is generic (or false!).
  • A bulk email tool is used to send out standard emails at regular intervals so the telemarketer’s time is not burdened with this admin task.
  • Email is sent in HTML format enabling it to look pretty with a good message structure either using images or just text. Remember that some recipients may have images blocked so the email still needs to be readable and appealing without them. The legal bits are complied with by providing Senders details and an Opt-Out facility and the email is tested with an anti-spam tool.
  • As telemarketers we are best placed to manage Opt-Outs, Bounces, Invalid Email Addresses, Deletes as part of a campaign as we can react to these quickly by calling the prospects back where needed ie; to obtain valid email addresses to maximise the number of recipients reached.
  • We customise standard emails or send “Special” emails where more information is known from the initial call and where we can make the subject line and content of the email more appealing and personal.
  • Reports and statistics are available for you to see the progress and status of a campaign at any time.
  • We can also provide this in a format to Hand-over to you at the end of a campaign for you to use in future.

All of this helps to lay foundations for the “Follow Up” calls and increases the likely conversion rate of booking appointments or obtaining a fully qualified lead for a contact to Quote for work.

I hope this helps when considering Telemarketing in conjunction with Email campaigns and I welcome comments on other people’s views and experiences.

* Please note this article is intended for tips and should not be relied on for legal purposes.

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Ideas For Measuring Telemarketing Efforts

bar chart 200 x 130This article aims to share a few ideas with you on performance measures for Telemarketing which is usually aligned with overall targets based on what an organisation wants to achieve from the effort. 

 

Targets usually measure the Results

Performance indicators usually measure Effort, Behaviour and Quality.

Targets 

Targets are based on what the organisation wants.  This might be immediate leads or sales or may also include future sales (pipeline). Similarly they may be based on the quantity of what is achieved ie; number of leads, number of appointments, number of opt-ins, number of data records cleansed etc.

Performance Indicators

These are how the effort has been expended and may include:

  • Number of call attempts made
  • Number of successful contacts (Decision Maker Contacts)
  • Number of leads or appointments
  • Number of requests for information
  • Number of not-interested 

The next thing is to look at the relationship between this sub set of quantity measures to get an indication of performance ie;

  • Number of Successful Contacts as % of Call Attempts
  • Number of Leads or Appointments as % of Call Attempts
  • Number of Leads or Appointments as % of Successful Contacts
  • Number of Requests for Information as % of Successful Contacts
  • Number of Not Interested as % of Successful Contacts

 These help to get an indication of how skilful a telemarketer is at getting through to the relevant contact, whether they might be too easily stopping at a request for information or a call back rather than persevering to obtain a lead or appointment during the call (although the approach depends on what is most suitable for the organisation). It also gives an indication of how well they convert a conversation with a decision maker to a qualified lead or appointment which may involve an element of objection handling. 

What is the norm? 

This varies considerably by industry, target audience, stages of a campaign, any preparation or familiarisation required, information that is required to be collected throughout the call, and quality of data but broadly speaking between 12-18 call attempts per hour is standard in our experience for most campaigns with between 4-7 successful contacts per hour. 

How does effort and conversion vary?

At one end of the scale little or no preparation, accurate data, typical industry and audience, could mean around 200 calls a day with a relatively low conversion % rate.

At the other end of the scale a specialist industry and audience, where preparation is required, or poor data, might mean only around 70 calls a day but with a higher conversion %.

However, different people can achieve more or less the same with different styles and approaches and levels of effort.  It’s the balance between working smarter not harder.

Call Time as a Performance Indicator

In some organisations where the telemarketer is an employee the targets may be a little more relaxed especially if the role requires sales support administration such as researching, preparation, sending emails and following up with emails and where there is a Supervisor/Team Leader/Manager in place to monitor general attendance and quality. The target here may be along the lines of Time Spent on the Phone of say 3-5 hours per day and maybe an additional target of 100 calls approximately depending on industry, target audience, and call type.

Be careful what you wish for

Measures drive behaviour and this is true in Telemarketing with the following risks:

  • Call Attempts might drive behaviour where call attempts are not left ringing long enough to increase the number of attempts.
  • Call Time / Talk Time could result in bogus calls being made to external numbers such as friends, relatives etc, or advisors calling each other, or staying on hold for longer than they normally would have held for.
  • There may be a risk of performing to target rather than trying to exceed target.
  • Call Attempts or other quantity measures may encourage Telemarketers to burn through a list without maximising opportunities which can be disappointing if the population of prospects to be called is quite small. This is particularly true if there is a belief of “It’s a numbers game” 

Other considerations to maximise return on effort

  • The level of research, preparation, familiarisation and product knowledge needs to be at an optimum level.  If this is too much, too little, or misplaced, it can lead to poorer results than could have been achieved.
  • What are the levels of perseverance required to convert a cold prospect to an opportunity to a lead/appointment/sale?   Does the value of the sale warrant the effort in continuously following up? Should a line be drawn at some stage?
  • Stages of a campaign may also influence performance indicators ie; if a list is called for the first time there will be a higher level of “Not Interested” as these can be identified quickly, thereafter the next time a call is made it may be more lengthy in talk time, and conversion percentage rates will be higher as the population is more qualified than the first time it was called.  

We hope this gives you ideas for measuring telemarketing efforts if you would like to know more please contact us on info@maxxy.co.uk or call 01480 878 082.

Your comments and feedback would be really appreciated for others to see.

Thanks for visiting

Maxine

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Filed under General, Telemarketers

Twitter – This is @maxinemaxxy

Thanks for following and here is a bit about me as a Tweeter

max 2009 08 10

Most of my tweets are about cold calling, telemarketing and helping to increase sales through contacts with prospects.

  

  • Most people I follow or who are my followers are either from Business Forums or based around Cambridgeshire.  If they don’t fall into that category then they are probably related to Marketing, Accountancy, IT, or Business Services since these are the industries and clients that we work with the most.
  • Spam followers are blocked quickly so you can follow my followers without adding spammers to your follow list.  If you want an intro to my followers just tweet.
  • Large numbers of followers don’t impress – I would rather quality than quantity
  • I try to RT and mention as much as possible but only when relevant & interesting to followers or when I think they could contribute or give advice or join in fun
  • If you want including on a #ff just DM me but don’t be offended if I don’t #ff you as it’s probably that I have #ff too many people that day and don’t want to irritate others.
  • Tweets usually between 5-20 per day but that is because I believe in interacting with people.  If this gets too much then rather than unfollow me why not just “snooze” me through twittersnooze.com
  • Autotweets are kept to a minimum and only used so I don’t forget to tweet things, leaving me time in the day for more interactions.
  • My business partner anna can be followed although she doesn’t tweet much!@annamaxxy 
  • My other twitter account is for my credit control business so feel free to follow me on there too @creditmanageruk  or see website at www.creditcontrolmanager.co.uk
  • I also “encourage” my husband to tweet for his plastering and plumbing business in Huntingdon and feel free to follow us @floatltd   His web address is www.float.ltd.uk

For more info on our services please visit http://www.maxxy.co.uk

Thanks for following and looking forward to our tweets 🙂

Max

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I am a Twitter-Slave!

Yes I have downloaded tweetdeck

Yes I have read quite a few articles on best use of time for twitter

Yes I have tried to focus on quality rather than quantity

So why do I still feel like a twitter slave?

So many followers to find, direct messages to send, blog articles to write and post, things to analyse, things to research, things to experiment with.

I am sure my husband thinks I am having a cyber affair as I am up late on twitter every night this week.

Hopefully it will get easier and I will be over the initial hurdle soon.

If you have any tips to share – please do 🙂

Thanks

Maxine

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Don’t risk a £5000 fine through Cold Calling

Some organisations small and large are still not aware of the Telephone Preference Service.

If  it is not cost effective for you to subscribe to a corporate license then consider using one of the free providers for free such as TPS-check.com and a link to this is also provided below

Unsolicited cold calls to a number registered on TPS carries the risk of a £5000 fine per call.

Unsolicited means where that person has not asked you to call them, or agreed for you to call them, or given or shared their details with you for the purpose of you calling them.  More information on the definitions of Unsolicited cold calling can be obtained from your local Trading Standards.

The other benefit of TPS checking apart from not running the risk of a fine is that you will be calling people who are more responsive to your calls. 

 Links

http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/what/

http://www.tps-check.com/

Note – the free checks are if you check each one individually but for small volumes it is a workable solution especially if using copy & paste.

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Increasing numbers of no answers and voicemails

Are you finding recently that there is an increase in the number of no answers or voicemails when calling people?

We are.

And calls seem to be being diverted more and more to mobile numbers where there are then very unprofessional sounding voicemail messages.

Feedback and comments appreciated.

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Are you Too-Posh-To-Follow?

Why is it that some fairly ordinary people simply feel they are Too Posh To Follow?

The cycle goes like this…

1) They follow you

2) You follow them

3) They unfollow you some short time later

Is it me or is this just a bit on the snotty side?

It is like  a Twitter equivalent of telling you that you are not good enough for them to follow you any more but they are quite happy for you to follow them and boost their number of followers making them look popular.

Well, enough of that – I am off to unfollow everyone that has used this tactic with me… whether that is twitter etiquette or not… Pah!

Does anyone know of a way to receive notifications when someone stops following you?

🙂

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Do you use Business Valuation Software?

I am currently researching a product for an Accountant and it would really help if you could complete the poll below.

Thanks very much for your help and please add any comments that you think would help my research.

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Thank you business link

Thank you Business Link for giving me the opportunity to present Maxxy to you on 10th June. I wasn’t sure what to expect of you all but you are all lovely knowledgeable chaps and I hope that Maxxy can be beneficial to your clients.

You can access an edited copy of the presentation from

here

Thanks again for your time and please contact me with any questions or queries at info@maxxy.co.uk

Regards Maxine

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I love an accountant with an offer!

It makes such a difference.  (I already know I need to get out more!)

No more “we provide great service” or “we provide fixed fees”. It takes a wee bit more to get prospects interested enough to engage in a proper conversation about their business accountancy requirements especially if they have a good, loyal, long-standing relationship with their current accountant of twenty years or more.

And it is quality customers that accountants want from a telemarketing campaign isn’t it?

So a great offer will capture interest, get conversations flowing, get to the heart of the requirements and business needs, which in our role is what we want. From then on a lead is qualified with very specific information for the accountant to close the deal.  

A great offer doesn’t come across as cheesy or desperate if it is pitched well.  I don’t mean read out from a script by the way. I mean actual two way dialogue with professional content and style.    If pitched well it can come across as very confident and professional.  It can also give the impression that the firm cares enough about acquiring customers and keeping them that it is willing to invest in that process.

If it is not pitched well it can come across lazy and mis-placed with current business needs so it is worth taking time to consider what the return on investment is over a mid to long term and how the offer works in line with other schemes to make sure it is profitable. 

If you don’t have a referral scheme, that can be a good place to start especially now that there are so many start up businesses.

And if you need some inspiration for accountancy marketing ideas… head over to mikesmithconsulting

Top topics from todays telemarketing include the following:

*  Corporation Tax (always a favourite)

*  Credit management and Cashflow forecasting and bad debt management

*  Grants, funding and other sources of finance.

So keep the offers coming Accountants coz we love working with them 🙂

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Filed under For Accountants, Telemarketers

Prepare for the upturn with Jack Black, Mindstore

mindstore logo 149 83

Tuesday 7th July 2009

The Moller Centre, Cambridge

7pm – 10pm

Presented to you by Mindstore Associate David Hughes, this is an opportunity to escape from the doom and gloom and join him for this MUST attend evening event with special guest Mindstore Founder and Course Director Jack Black.  You will learn the latest tools and techniques that will help improve your overall performance at work and play whilst enhancing your ability to enjoy life to the full.

This unique evening event will provide the opportunity to interact, share ideas, network and do business with your fellow business owners and leaders from the local community.  We have deliberately picked the Moller Centre to host this unique event as we believe the combination of this inspiring venue and Jack Blacks mind blowing presentation will motivate you to come away equipped and ready for the upturn.

Event Schedule

7.00 – 7.30pm – Registration

7.30 – 7.45pm – Opening and Introduction David Hughes

7.45 – 9.00pm – Prepare for the Upturn with Jack Black

9.00 – 10.00pm – Networking

 

Investment: £25 per person

Tickets for this special evening event are limited and will sell out fast!  To secure your place please call 0141 617 0808 or email mindstore@maxxy.co.uk to book online.

“These are extraordinary times and in such times exraordinary people do extraordinary things, what is absolutely clear is that for millions caught up in the gloom and doom ordinary thinking and ordinary performance won’t be enough.”  Jack Black

Visit the Mindstore website at  http://www.mindstore.com

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Thank you Bright Visions

Thank you so so so so so much Bright visions.  At the Huntingdon Business Event we were just down the way from your busy and impressive stand and we only had our little presentation folder for people to flick through.  Now I am looking forward to this year 🙂

I still cannot believe that we won a projector in your prize draw at the Huntingdon Business Event!!

I know that you did say to me that you were pleased that we won as you felt it would help our business and I didn’t fully appreciate that comment at the time but since then we have used it quite a bit and actually I don’t know what we would have done without it!

It isn’t the sort of luxury item that my small business would splash out on as every penny is being continously reinvested so I have to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH! 

We have used it at Maxxy recruitment events, on site presentations and in the office and in situations where we would have huddled around a laptop previously.  It is very bright and clear and not noisy at all.  Best of all even two blondes can set it up!  (I can tell you are impressed!)

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Pay-per-lead versus fixed rates for Accountants

An enquiry I had today for telemarketing for an accountancy firm has prompted me to write a little something about pay-per-lead or pay-per-appointment campaigns versus paid hourly or day rates to help weigh up the advantages and disadvantages with the way some of these campaigns are structured.

My prospective client is in a situation where they feel they have “wasted” £2500 on a pay-per-appointment campaign. This perception is based on 15 appointments at £150 each where only about 2 were converted to clients.

Now I don’t know about the annual revenue they expect to gain over say an average life of the client of approximately 3 years but let’s say it’s around £5,000.  Take out time and money spent on following up all of appointments, chasing the no-shows, travelling etc and the profit starts to diminish. 

Then the real big hitter.  The lost opportunity cost!  This client has absolutely no idea who has been contacted and approached for business in their organisations name.  No report or list or notes or feedback of any kind is usually provided with pay-per-appointment and pay-per-lead campaigns as the Accountant only pays for the successful leads.

So why is this important?

 There are potentially loads of prospective businesses in their local area and within their target market who could have been prospective clients but because they have already been approached as part of a telemarketing campaign the client doesn’t feel it is appropriate or professional to contact them all again so soon as there will naturally have been prospects included in the list who have asked not to be contacted again. 

Having no list or report of prospects contacted and no notes on what was said as part of the call beyond the opening script, means there is a real lost opportunity cost as the Accountant is unable to go back for a 2nd bite of the cherry and make a good impression in terms of selling their areas of specialism, USP’s or general principles, preferred methodology and above all the benefits to the prospect.  Objections and feedback is also not available which can be extremely valuable in terms of continuously strengthening the Accountancy firms position in the marketplace.

The other double-whammy for them is that the appointments were purchased on a “non-exclusive” basis.  This means the telemarketing company have sold the leads onto more than one accountant.  I was told it was around 6, that equates to revenue to the telemarketing company of £900 for one appointment or £13,500 for all 15 appointments. These are not matched to the Accountant on an individual basis and therefore puts a lot of pressure at the appointment to compete on every angle especially price.  £900 may sound like a lot of money but bear in mind that there is no indication of the cost it took to obtain the leads so it isn’t a good measure of telemarketers profit.

I am not saying that pay-per-appointment or pay-per-lead is a completely poor choice.  Of course it can be a very effective way of covering the risks of a telemarketing campaign and it can have it’s merits if budgets are tight.  What I am pointing out is not to assume that management information will be available for all prospects who were contacted as part of the campaign and to consider this as part of longer term marketing plans and longer term return on investment.

Consider an alternative of a fixed rate campaign, specifically targetted to your desired audience at between £150-£200 per day.  This is professional and conducted on behalf of one Accountancy firm only (not in a 3rd party telemarketing company name) which automatically can make a much better first impression. 

Not not only is this likely to generate at least one quality appointment per day thus automatically breaking even with the pay-per-appointment cost, the chances of converting the appointment to a signed up client is significantly increased as there is no other competition from the lead being sold to the Accountants competitors.  We provide a  full management report with detailed comments on conversations along with individual email addresses and areas of potential future opportunity for ongoing marketing activity. 

If pay-per-appointment is still a preferred option then a good half-way house can sometimes be “exclusive basis only” where the cost is more than what it would be if divided by 6 potential clients but not the total amount ie; £400.  At least that way the calling is in your name as opposed to a 3rd party agency name and there is also the option of the list being provided by the Accountant and returned at the end of the campaign with comments.  Be aware though that not all agencies/telemarketers are prepared to do this however as it is generally more profitable to generate appointments from pre-existing prospect pipeline from previous campaigns and marketing activities.

A couple of other considerations are how loyal will clients be if they were poached away from one Accountant on the strength of a 3rd party telemarketing call?  Could this happen again so easily?  Is the lifetime profit of that client likely to be less than if the client was obtained via another route such as word of mouth recommendation?  The Accountant may have to work much harder than average to keep the client.  I would be really interested to hear peoples experiences on this.

For this particular client we have now put a proposed plan in place to recover from their unfortunate telemarketing experience.  This will help them obtain new clients both in the short term and medium to long term and to keep their professionalism and integrity intact  (but I won’t be giving all of my secrets away!)

Finally, I have generalised a bit in this post but my aim has just been to share a few pointers when considering main pricing structures. I hope it helps.  

Regards,

Maxine

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Recruiting for Telemarketers

We are delighted to be in a position to be recruiting for professional telemarketers to work approximately 5-15 hours per week although we can be flexible on hours. 

This will either be for hourly paid campaigns for lead and appointment generation and data cleansing or on a results payment basis for pay-per-lead or pay-per-appointment campaigns.

Work is usually home based although some onsite working at client premises or at one of our local business hubs in Huntingdon or St. Ives may be required. 

Candidates will need to have some telemarketing or telesales experience.

Please contact Anna on 01480 878 082 or email recruitment@maxxy.co.uk

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Telemarketers at Exhibitions

 

 anna-and-max-950-x-7001

As telemarketers we spend the majority of the time on the telephone on behalf of clients it seems natural that to market for ourselves we do so using the telephone, the same principles we use for our clients, however, having been to an exhibition today and seeing the reaction it has really made us rethink!

Through discussions with people, businesses and industries the view of ‘telemarketing’ is varied.  People tend (quite normal) to measure ALL telemarketing companies by the one example they have experienced or been told about by a friend/colleague/relative.  This is all very well if the experience has been a good one and the requirements were met and delivered accordingly but what about when it is negative?

Within the same industries you will always have different companies selling the same thing but not all of them will be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’.  From experience we have recruited in the past for companies and it would be based on skills and experience but not on that alone.  The same applies for telemarketing – you may know four companies that offer this service but they will all be completely different and in our opinion it is about finding the one that reflects your company and who you are the most not the cheapest or closest.

Exhibiting for Telemarketing has got to be a good move in right direction.  You obtain feedback (good & bad) from people and are in a position to say why you thought that worked, why it didn’t and how we can do things differently.  It is also nice for people to see a face rather than hear a voice of a telemarketer and holding a conversation with prospective clients face to face is good as you get to see the impressions and body language.

We feel really pleased about our experience today and everything we obtained from visitors has been valuable and worthwhile, even if some of it was negative.  The majority were interested in what we did, how we did it and so on and more open to chatting.  Whether it would have been the same conversation had we telephoned them nobody knows but we did feel it worthwhile in doing some face to face introductions and would do it again as and when.

Telephone contact has worked really well for us for two years but, other than aching feet, exhibitions are just as valuable and worthwhile overall too.

We are off to soak our feet now but your thoughts would be welcome!

Regards

Maxine and Anna

www.maxxy.co.uk

info@maxxy.co.uk

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Telemarketing for Accountants

This is a tough one to talk about as I don’t want to upset people with something that is a personal view based on just my own experiences rather than a scientific study.     

 

I guess the first thing to mention that just like any other trade or industry, Accountants also have their preferences in what they want to do most of and who for.  Whether that is because it is what they enjoy doing or particularly good at, or the most profitable or for the nicest people.  So take from that then that their service offering will be different in terms of pricing, service levels and how they work.

 

When it comes to telemarketing for accountants there can be a tendency for the prospect to jump to conclusions and immediately form a stereotypical view based on either what they have heard from other people or based on their own experiences.

 

If you are an accountant offering something slightly different to the norm, then it will need to be spelt out very clearly with a strong marketing message.  That message needs to transpire into a clear benefit for the prospect just like any other form of marketing. That message needs to be targeted to the right audience too.

 

A lot of accountants make the mistake of only talking about features ie; what it is they do and how they do it.  Just look at some accountant’s websites.  They tend to spell out features and technical ability and experience rather than how the prospect will benefit from using them in particular.  This together with the fact that accountancy is a specialist subject is doomed to failure from the start as people need to understand what it all means to them by way of benefits.  If they can’t do this quickly, they switch off.

 

I hear USP’s such as “We will visit the client” or “We provide good advice rather than just compliance” or “We care about their business”.  These are not strong enough USP’s for telemarketing in my opinion as chances are that the prospect already gets this and it’s not special enough to choose one firm or accountant over the other.

 

The most successful thing is to have something that will tempt someone away from their current accountant.  You would find it incredible how unhappy some people can be with their accountant and yet still not muster up the courage or will to change.  It’s the “devil-you-know” syndrome.

 

Understanding a client’s accountancy requirements from a grass root level is paramount.  Only then can you match this with a style and proposition that to suit them (and you!).

 

I do not believe in generating leads where they will not suit either the client or the accountant.  That’s not a moralist view it’s a professional view as the more I try and force, persuade and coerce a mis-matched partnership, the more time and money I waste!  I learned the hard way and very early on in my telemarketing career not to spend time ringing and ringing and ringing and playing the numbers game. Even though I am from a finance background myself, it is just not profitable either for the telemarketer or for the accountant.  Recent examples I have heard are of Accountants spending between £4k – £14k to get one or two leads!  And worse than that it can get the accountant a bad name locally for being a calling pest!

 

So what’s the answer so far?

 

1)  An attractive proposition with clear benefits

2)  Targetted to the right audience

3)  A real USP

 

My intention is to move away from the traditional pay-per-hour + bonus for each qualified lead or appointment and work on a pay-per-lead or pay-per-appointment basis only.  I do however have to offer this subject to a short trial but that is only for about 5 hours to get a feel for how the campaign is going initially. This is because of the variances in propositions but I feel this is a fair balance of risk between the accountant and the telemarketer.  There is also no set up fee unlike some telemarketing companies and in most cases I can also supply profiled data to match the campaign. 

 

This way the accountant will not get a large volume of mis-matched prospects that they have to spend time and money on our fees plus the cost of attending appointments that they have no chance of closing because they are not suited to the prospect.

 

So that brings me onto point number 4) which is to have realistic expectations.  It can sometimes take a bit of time to build up a quality telemarketing pipeline to suit your individual accountancy style and approach.  Prospects do not tend to make on-the-spot decisions on something as important as their accountant although it does happen, but hopefully that means that when you do get a client they will be a client for life.

 

Finally, as a cherry on the cake, number 5) needs to be a “Call to Action”.  I cannot give away the special offers that some of my clients are offering with but they are based along the lines of giving something valuable away to acquire the customer in the early days and I assure you it works out a lot cheaper than spending £4k on a wasted telemarketing campaign.  If you can, I would urge you to find something that you can give away to complement a decent campaign to maximise your return on investment.

 

So my 5 things then are

 

1)  An attractive proposition with clear benefits

2)  Targetted to the right audience

3)  A real USP

4)  Realistic Expectations (early pain for long term gain)

5)  Call to Action

 

I hope this has shared some useful views with you and I welcome comments

 

Thanks for reading

Max

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Huntingdon Business Fair 2009 – 23rd April, Wood Green Animal Shelter

We will be representing Easiprint, one of our favourite clients, at Wood Green Animal Shelter, Godmanchester on 23rd April. The event is organised by Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce and more information can be found here

 

There are over 70 exhibitors at the event and the event is free of charge to attend.

 

So please come and say hello to Anna and I and come and see some fine samples of design and print by Easiprint who have done all the printing for the event for Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce.

 

Easiprint can be contacted on 01487 824653 (ask for Simon or Sallie) or email them at sales@easiprint.biz  

 

 

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New Head Office Regional Manager

Yeay! Anna is back! Anna worked for Maxxy some time ago and then left to work for a competitor (boo-hiss!) but is now back and running the Head Office Region at Maxxy.

I am so pleased to have Anna on board as our styles compliment each other and she is truly client focused which is just as important at Maxxy as getting the results.

This gives us a great opportunity to increase our local work and central activities from Huntingdon and St. Ives. Both of us have been able to work more on-site at client offices which has been great as there are so many benefits to this for clients and for us but I will let her write more about that.

Welcome back Anna – get the kettle on!

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Do you blog when you are busy?

Yes I am guilty of blog neglect. I found that I was too busy to blog. What with facebook, twitter and a blog its like having 3 extra children in the house.

I suppose it is a shame considering that Telemarketing is growing in demand at the moment and a few articles here and there would possibly help people who were doing this for the first time or want to get the best out of their telemarketing budget and avoid some pitfalls.

I realise now that blogging when busy is probably better than when less busy as the blog flows from the heart with less procrastination and there is more material to share. So the maxxy-blog is back on.

Some articles coming up soon on things that have worked for me by industry, tips on choosing a price structure that works for you, getting the best out of your telemarketer and a few other things. If there is any particular topic you would like to read a blog on, let me know and I will try and put something together.

Take care all

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Welcome!

Hi and welcome to my blog for a little bit of telemarketing waffle. I hope to share on here some views and experiences of telemarketing campaigns and other related activities.  It gives me something to do during a tea break.  Feel free to comment and ask questions

Max

www.maxxy.co.uk     Tel: 01480 878 082   Email: info@maxxy.co.uk  Twitter: maxinemaxxy

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