4.29.2009

The Marketing Mix and Telesales

I don't often talk about work on here, but this is a lesson worth sharing. Sharing it also helps me explore the concept further in my own mind and make connections that can become useful while developing this idea further. So without further ado...

At work we've been discussing the role telesales (better known as telemarketing) can play in the marketing mix we use to target our audiences. As a nonprofit specializing in education and growth opportunities of all types for our members, we've also been seeing some negative trends as people, departments, and companies cut budgets. Education is usually the first to go, immediately preceded by unnecessary travel. Sometimes followed by the public relations and marketing people.

Apparently, it seems that telesales are very useful for re-engaging expired memberships. The trick is to target each and every conversation so that you aim for what the member needs, right now. I find it interesting that telesales trainers and specialists that I have come in contact with either as an end user or behind the scenes, are usually manic individuals who push without appreciating the subtle line separating assertive and overbearing. I've yet to meet someone in the telesales market that sounds as polished and convincing as the NPR hosts during one of their fund drives--for proof I'm not the only one who thinks those work, see Slate's March article titled Let's Get Those Phones Ringing!The cunning genius of the public radio fundraising drive. It's radio-telesales.

I recently, and very apropos, ran into an article by Ben Stein on the New York Times titled The Sales Profession: Attention Must Still Be Paid under the Everybody's Business column/category.
I like Ben Stein, he's a smart guy. I know he only speaks up when there's something important to say, so I listen. One of my favorite quotes from his article follows:

Sales — when done right — is more than a job. It is an art. It is a high-wire act. It is, as Arthur Miller immortally said, being out there “on a smile and a shoe shine.” It is learning the product you are selling, learning it so well that you can describe it while doing a pirouette of smiles for the customer and talking about the latest football scores. It is knowing human nature so well that you can align the attributes of your product or service cleanly with the needs and wants of your customers.

At its best, selling is taking a doubt and turning it, jujitsu style, into a powerful push. Selling is making the customer feel better about spending money — or investing it — than he would have felt by keeping his wallet zipped.