How to Sell Online Backup Services (part 3)
The Online Backup business is booming. Independent Service Providers like most of us are benefiting from a rising tide of public awareness in Online Backup as an inexpensive and better alternative to tapes and CDs. This article is Part 3 of the chapter, “How to Sell Online Backup.”
The Online Backup Guide for Service Providers is a complete 196-page guide on starting and operating an Online Backup Service – the latest revision of Rob Cosgrove’s industry defining RBS Book originally published in 1987. The entire book is being published here, chapter by chapter.
Telemarketing works. It has a high Return on Investment (ROI) and it can be outsourced to people who know little about your service. A single experienced telemarketer with a good script can make 120 telephone contacts a day.
The goal of a telemarketer is usually to make the first contact with a prospect to create an opening for a sales person. He is often used as an appointment setter, or to collect email addresses. Telemarketers experienced in the service can also make sales, and are more expensive than simple telemarketers.
Telemarketing is the doorway to sales. It is a numbers game – statistics – and it’s not always simple. Keep good records on each telemarketer. You should know how many calls they make in a day, how many times they got through to a decision-maker, how many appointments they set for a sales person, how many email addresses they collected, and what areas of the country return the most contacts.
After a while you will know how many calls it takes to get a sale, how long each call should last, which types of companies respond best, how long it takes to convert a sale from the initial contact, and MANY other numbers that you can use to calculate how well a telemarketer is doing, how likely he is to succeed, and in fact, how much money the company will make.
How to Acquire a Calling List
It starts when you acquire a list. I have used several ways to acquire lists. Some are free, and some have a small charge. They all depend on the types of businesses you want to service, and your service area. I will assume for the purpose of this conversation that you are operating regionally.
Contact Management Software
I strongly recommend using Contact Management Software like ACT or GoldMine. Use something specifically designed for lead generation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This software forces you to use good sales practices and follow-up.
Yellow Pages and Business Directories
These are good free sources of leads when you only need enough to keep one telemarketer going. Many are available online. The problem with them is that the data are not usually available in an easy to import electronic list format. So, to get them into your CRM software you have to do a lot of typing.
Mining the Web
The web is full of valuable information, much of it sorted by geographical area. You can use any of the search engines to find leads in any area. For example, just a few minutes ago I used Google to search for “dentist Cincinnati” and found many pages of them, including telephone numbers.
There is software that can make the job of mining the Web much easier. One product I have tried is called “Email, Phone and Fax Extractor” by Troyeesoft (www.troyeesoft.com). This software searches the Web, extracting email addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers. It can then export to a standard file format that all CRM systems can import.
While this software can find hundreds of contacts in just a few minutes, using it is discouraged by all the major search engines because of the load it puts on them without reading the ads. Most of them have installed countermeasures that detect data mining software and halt it. Then the companies producing the software come up with anti-countermeasures, and the battle continues.
No Spam, Please
While you’re out there mining the Web with software that makes it really easy to collect thousands of email addresses, please do not use the email addresses. Do not send unsolicited emails. Business owners don’t like it, and you can get into trouble doing it. The last thing you need is to have your email black-holed.
Ignore the emails and collect only telephone numbers and addresses. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable to do telemarketing to businesses, and to send them direct mail. It is rude, unprofessional, and in many cases illegal to send unsolicited email.
As of this writing, it is NOT illegal or rude to send email to a business if you have an existing relationship with the business; and you WILL have an existing relationship after you’ve made a telephone call. It is perfectly OK for your telemarketer to ask for an email address and then send an email. You may continue to send emails until someone asks you to stop, which you then must do.
List brokers sell or rent lists of names with varying levels of contact information. You can usually order lists by geographic area, business type, number of employees, and annual sales volume.
I have found that it works best to target companies with less than five million dollars in annual revenue, and fewer than twenty employees. These small companies usually do not have a dedicated IT person on staff, and are in the best position to want your services.
Lately I have been working with a list company called Sales Genie (www.salesgenie.com). They have a large number of lists, and a good online CRM system, with a way to flag contacts you have already ordered to make it easy to order different contacts. Prices are among the most affordable I’ve seen, and the lists are very fresh.
Here’s how we do telemarketing at my company.
We import a list into the CRM system and assign it to a telemarketer. The telemarketer phones the people on the list. His ONLY goal during the first call is to get a name and an email address. Subsequent calls and emails from experienced sales people are used for selling the product. We will virtually NEVER sell a product on the first call, but YOU might. We’re selling a different product than you, and at a much higher price point.
Sometimes a telemarketer gets lucky with a customer who says, “Wow, I can’t believe you called! I was just thinking about Online Backup. Tell me all about it!”
Our telemarketers do not have the experience or the skills to sell our product. If customers ask them questions, they are supposed to respond, “I will be happy transfer you to a sales consultant to answer your questions.” Then he transfers the caller to a sales person.
Telemarketers are not sales people. Telemarketers might become sales people if they are good enough. This takes working the phones and gradually learning the product or service inside and out. There is no reason at all for a customer to call a telemarketer back personally. There’s no reason for a customer to email a telemarketer directly. If a telemarketer gets an email directly from a customer, he should forward it to a sales person rather than respond to it.
An inexperienced telemarketer’s only job is to mine the list. Weed out those who don’t want to be called back, harvest email addresses, and set appointments for callbacks. That’s all. If a telemarketer finds a very interested customer, he should transfer the call directly to a sales person immediately.
US law requires that you make a non-email first contact with a prospect before you start sending him commercial email. Therefore, it is VITALLY important that the telemarketer speak with a live person at a company who gives him an email address over the phone.
When a telemarketer gets an email address that is not roll-based he should send a template email to that address, with a BCC to a sales person who will follow up.
Roll-based emails include sales@, info@, support@, webmaster@, support@ – any email that is addressed to a department rather than to an individual. At my company we consider roll-based emails absolutely useless. We need someone’s REAL personal email address. I can’t overstate the importance of this.
Later, after you have collected thousands of email addresses and you have an email newsletter you want to send out monthly, you will want to use the services of a commercial email company like one of the following two, who will not send to roll-based emails.
Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com)
I require telemarketers to report by email to the Sales Manager daily. I want to know the number of calls made, the number of email addresses collected, and a general discussion about how it’s going. Does the telemarketer have questions? Does he feel like he needs more training? Does he have the resources he needs? Are the phones working OK? Does he have any suggestions?
The Sales Manager should speak with new telemarketers daily, maybe several times a day. Just check in and see how things are going. Telemarketers should feel free to phone the Sales Manager any time.
The Sales Manager reports to me daily. If I see something I don’t like, I’m going to pressure her, and she’s going to have to fix the issue. This sometimes means putting pressure on the other sales people and the telemarketers. I use the data collected by the Sales Manager to predict cash flow for the next month or so. I’ve already told you that telemarketing is a numbers game – statistics. If I see numbers that indicate a decreased cash flow, I’m going to demand the Sales Manager fix it immediately.
Once a week the Sales Manager hosts a meeting with the telemarketers and sales people, and sometimes myself. During that meeting she asks for reports from everyone, passes out the latest sales-related reports and articles of information, and asks for new ideas. We want to know how everyone’s job is going, and how we can change it to make people more efficient, and the company more profitable.
Rob Cosgrove is the President of Remote Backup Systems, founder of the Online Backup Industry, and a vocal advocate for maintaining the highest standards in Online Backup software. His latest book, the Online Backup Guide for Service Providers: How to Start and Operate an Online Backup Service, is available online now, on Amazon.com, and at bookstores.
Remote Backup Systems provides brandable, scalable software and solutions to MSPs and VARs enabling them to offer Online Backup Services.