For a lead generation agency, it’s critical that telemarketing is designed to maximise every tool in the armoury. Some of these tools are not ones you would normally associate with successful telemarketing, and probably won’t be ones your lead generation agency will wax lyrical about. Closed questions fall into this category. It’s true we all love an open question, at Blue Donkey Intelligent Telemarketing we like to be a bit sassy though, so here’s our take on the important role played by the much-maligned closed question.
What is a closed question?
A closed question in lead generation agency speak is one that can be answered with a simple yes or no. In telemarketing, you need to get people engaged as quickly as possible. The faster you can get someone talking, the easier it will be for you to build a rapport and begin laying the foundations for a business relationship. Consequently, closed questions are a definite no-no at the beginning of a call, especially since asking a closed question to someone that you haven’t yet built a rapport with will almost certainly attract a negative response. However, there are a lot of points in the call where closed questions work a treat. They usually begin with would you, could you, type prompts and for a lead generation agency they are the main tool used to pre-close, where you test the waters for whether a decision maker is willing to proceed. For example, ‘would you be willing to have someone come and see you about x’.
No need to go on about it
Closed questions are also excellent for helping control the flow of a conversation. It’s hard to believe perhaps but a good lead generation agency will find getting people off the phone is sometimes as hard as getting them on it. Decision makers love talking about their business, and for a charismatic, skilled telemarketer, getting people engaged won’t be too much of a problem until they start over-sharing or going off on a tangent. The closed question can help gently rescue such situations by steering the call to its conclusion.
Another way they help with controlling a discussion is that closed questions can be used to gain agreement, and encourage the next steps, for example by asking the decision maker can we come and see you about that. In some cases, several closed questions might be used by a lead generation agency to successfully establish the appropriate criteria for a lead has been met. It’s important these aren’t fired out at speed like a machine-gun, but used carefully they can help ensure that the right boxes have been ticked before you close for a meeting, sale or whatever the objective of your call.
What we need is facts
Finally closed questions are a great way to establish and confirm facts. An open question is a question that generally begins with the words what, when, where, how, and they are designed to encourage expansive and informative answers. They’re also great for building relationships because we all like to talk about ourselves or our business. But once you’ve been showered with information you need to ensure you’ve established the facts correctly. A lead generation agency will have a quality management imperative here, as the database and the insight gained will be a measure of their ability.
However, whether you work in a lead generation agency or not, the database should be seen as a business asset. If possible, it should contain a searchable drop down menus to allow your marketing department to select and segment based on homogenous features – marketing speak for prospects who are similar so they can be targeted with marketing just for them. For example, a database might have a drop down menu for organisation size, the lead generation agency will populate this field as they go along, so small companies can be contacted with products that are relevant to them, and large ones can be targeted specifically with products designed for the larger organisation. This reduces wasted marketing budget and enables your messaging to be better targeted. According to Professor Malcolm McDonald, one of the world’s foremost authorities on strategic marketing, market segmentation and the concept of the ‘segment of one’, segmenting at key decision points is the bedrock of commercial success. It consists of splitting the market into groups of people who are likely to behave in a similar way
Using the database to carefully build this insight will overtime enable far better use of resources, reduce wastage and deliver success measured in the same robust way a lead generation agency uses metrics.