How to use time zones in Acarda Outbound

Acarda Outbound provide support for time zones however this feature is turned off by default. To turn time zones on in the Acarda Outbound take the following steps:

1. Open Acarda Outbound Manager software (or in Solo click on the Administration tab).

2. Click on the Setup Tab.

3. Click on the Settings icon in the Setup group of icons.

4. Click on the “Other Settings” link in the left tree view menu under “Call Options”.

5. In the Time Zones Settings panel check the User Time Zones check box.

You also have the option to set two other settings that will govern whether or not leads for Duty Team Call Backs or Requested Call Backs can be sent to the agents outside of the time zones. For example, if someone asks you to call back later in the evening but it is outside the time zone you have set up. You can permit that by checking the “Ignore Time Zones for Requested Call Backs”.

time-zone-settings

Now setup the time zones information:

1. Open Acarda Outbound Manager software (or in Solo click on the Administration tab).

2. Click on the Setup Tab.

3. Click on the Time Zones icon in the Setup group of icons.

4. Click New to add a new zone. The name of the zone must match up with the names used in the calling list data in the Dial List “Time Zone” field. If your data states the time zone code then use that here for the zone name, alternatively, you could use say the state and then you would enter the states as a time zone name. Enter the Start Time and Stop Time from the point of view of the Acarda Outbound Server clock.

time-zones-setup-zones

That’s it. Time zones are now set up.

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How to import your calling list into Acarda Outbound

calling list dataEach campaign in Acarda Outbound has an associated calling list which we call the Dial List. Your calling list will likely come as an Excel spread sheet or it may already be in a csv file format. It is easy to take your Excel format and use Save As a csv file.

In Acarda Outbound, to import your calling list take the following steps:
1. Under the Manager tab click on the Dial List icon in the Import Group. This will bring up the Import Dial List screen.
2. Select the campaign from the drop down list that you want to import to. If you campaign is not yet set up then prior to importing you need to click on the Setup tab and then the Campaigns icon and add your campaign name.
3. Once you have selected the campaign then select the Import File by clicking on the ellipsis button (…)

import calling list screen

4. If you have a header in the top of the import file that states the name of the columns but does not contain real data then check the Ignore Header check box.
5. It is a good idea to click the Reset button on the lower left side of the screen to clear out past File Column Positions. Of course if the data is the same format as the last import then there is no need to do this. Please note during import if you get an error message about the input array being longer than the number of columns in the table the nit probably means you have a number in the File Column Position that is too high.
6. Now match the File Column Positions of you data (as shown in the Import File Preview window) to each Database Field Name that you want to import to. You could try the Auto Detect feature if you have checked the “Ignore Header” check box.
7. Then when ready click the Import button.

We have a YouTube video on how to import your data into Acarda Outbound. Please take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivm4mT45Yf0

In the Advanced Edition there is a really useful feature to allow you to save the import settings that link the calling list data to the File Column Position. This means if you work with several different list formats you can save each format to a template and then the next time you go to import that sort of file you imagecan just click on the File Definitions Templates drop down list to find the one you used last time.

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Outbound Calling Blog New Life

Although I started this blog four years ago it didn’t take long before I was distracted with other things and found the blog was the easiest item on my to do list to neglect. Last year however, with the release of Acarda Outbound which is effectively TeamMax version 7, I found myself wondering how we could best communicate the new features and time-saving enhancements of Acarda Outbound to you all. So I am going to try and post more regular blogs over the rest of the year. We’ll start by looking at how to do things in Acarda Outbound.

So what is Acarda Outbound? Acarda Outbound is for focused outbound calling and will drastically increase your productivity in telemarketing, telesales, appointment setting, customer care, surveying and any other outbound calling campaigns. There is a team edition, http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-team.html, and a solo user edition, http://www.acarda.com/telemarketing-software-solo.html.

Acarda Outbound Telemarketing call center

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Articulate Your Prospects Problems

When it comes to cold calling you should always begin with the person’s core challenge or problem. Once you are clear on what problems your product or service can solve for them, you will start to know what to say when you make a call. It really is that simple.

When calling, begin the phone call with, “Hi, my name is (your first name). I was just wondering if you can help me out for a moment.” How would you respond if someone said that to you? Most likely, “Sure, how can I help you?” or perhaps “Sure, how can I assist you?”

That is exactly the way just about all people, especially business people would reply when the person on the other end of the telephone says “I was just wondering if you can help me out for a moment” in a relaxed opening phrase like that. It’s a natural reaction.

Keep this in mind when you ask for help, you are telling the truth because you don’t have any idea whether you can help them solve a problem or not. And it is the truth of a matter that starts the trust relationship between you and your potential client/customer.

When they reply, “Sure, how can I help you?” Don’t respond by launching into a pitch about what you have to offer. As that will literally ruin it for you. Instead, you go right into talking about the core problem to find out whether your suggested core problem is a problem they can see for themselves.

So you say, “I’m just giving you a call to see if you are grappling (and the key word here is ‘grappling’) with (insert the problem you help them solve)?”

No pitch, no introduction, nothing about you. Just step directly into their world.

The purpose of the question is to open the conversation and develop enough trust, so your potential prospect feels comfortable having a conversation with you.

The traditional way of cold calling advises you to ask lots of questions to learn about the person’s business and to “connect.” The problem is that people see right through that. They know that you have an ulterior motive, and then you’re right back up against the wall from the get go.

To do the opposite of the traditional old way may be hard for you to apply to your own situation at first, because trying to leverage calls based on what we know about our solution is so ingrained in our thinking.

You need to discover how to step out of your own solution, and think about the problem your prospects has. And that’s the secret of building trust on calls. Using a language that articulates your prospects problems, so they can identify with you. It’s often the missing link in the process of cold calling.

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Cold Calling Heavy Mental Attitudes

Do you find that the telephone can become like a HUGE weight when it comes to lifting it up and making calls? I was like that at the beginning as well. The good news is that you are not alone.

If you’re like most people who make cold calls, you’re hoping to make a sale — or at least an appointment — before you even pick up the phone. The problem is the people you call somehow always pick up on your mindset immediately.

They sense that you’re focused on your goals and interests, rather than on finding out what they might need or want. This short-circuits the whole process of communication and trust-building.

Here’s the benefit of changing your mental objective before you make the call: it takes away the frenzy of working yourself up mentally to pick up the phone.

All the feelings of rejection and fear come from us getting wrapped up in our expectations and hoping for an outcome when it’s premature to even be thinking about an outcome.

So try this, practice shifting your mental focus to thinking, “when I make this call, I’m going to build a conversation so that a level of trust can emerge allowing us to exchange information back and forth so we can both determine if there’s a fit or not.”

Go ahead, try it. You will see it makes a huge difference.

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Discover Why You Should Be Using This Tool

Some claim that telemarketing is one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the business world today, and smart businesses companies are utilising this in an effort to increase sales.

Because it is so affordable and its ease of use, outbound telemarketing has been around almost since the invention of the telephone. Thousands of businesses depend on the telephone for a large part of their sales. Telemarketing now surpasses direct mail as an effective strategy for marketing. Outbound telemarketing provides the opportunity to make sales calls, to upgrade mail orders, do prospecting and speed up cash flow to the business through accounts receivable collection efforts. It can also be applied to build retail traffic, get appointments for sales reps, and even re-sell clients who have cancelled their orders. Fundraising represents another huge area where outbound telemarketing has brought dramatic results.

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One pharmaceutical company realized the impact of outbound marketing when they found they could call hundreds of pharmacies an hour through outbound telemarketing compared to much less success with direct mail and they had lower costs to contend with.

Using the telephone as your main method of communication, you are performing a function that few in the world can do well. You are helping people to take action and make a decision, based almost solely on the words and ideas that come from your mouth. It’s quite an awesome feat when you think about it. And do think about it. It takes a talented individual to be able to do that well. You are that person. Feel proud of what you do, and always strive to get better!

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The selling process and objection handlers

Stephan Scfiffman says there are four steps to an ideal selling process: Qualify/Open, Information, Presentation, and Close. After the initial greeting and qualifying step you reach a critical point where the prospect is likely try to drop out of the conversation. If you can turn that around you reach the information-gathering phase after which you may again encounter another critical point before the presentation stage where you recommend your product or service.

So how do you turn the response (e.g. not interested) at the critical point around? For a start learn from your experiences. The first time you are faced with a new objection it is understandable if you are not to sure how to respond; however take note of the point the prospect raised and later after your calls, work out the best way to respond to that sort of objection.

Objection!

I recommend you make a list of common objections and have prepared responses for them. Ask other sales people what they say or do when the objection is raised. Ask your colleagues, your sales manager and get a range of ways to respond. Then try them out and see which are more successful at turning the call around. Remember you can practice your script, practice responding to objections.

How do you keep track of the objections you encounter? Some people write the common objections on queue cards, flip charts or use an online knowledge base objection handler solution such as Acarda’s NowSayWhat.com service (www.NowSayWhat.com). What is your system? Can you give us an example of an objection you encounter and how you respond to it?

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Ask the “do” questions

I’ve been searching for a house to buy as a rental investment. I’ve looked at dozens of houses over the past few weeks and had four or five different real-estate agents show me round. Some of the agents ask me what I am looking for and listen to my reply. Others don’t even hear me and seem content to just show me their listings – now that’s a waste of their time and mine.

For Sale

It got me thinking about what makes a good sales person and who is more likely to close a deal with me. I think the best sales people are those that ask me questions and then listen to my answers.

Now if you use a script for telesales then that’s okay but a good sales person needs to ask questions so include appropriate questions as part of your script.

Rather than assuming you know what a prospect or customer “needs” you should ask them questions and engage them in a conversation. Stephan Schiffman talks about understanding the “do” of your prospect by finding out:

  • What they do,
  • How they do it,
  • Why they do it,
  • When they do it,
  • Where they do it,
  • Who they do it with, and
  • How we can help them to do it better.

The “do” is important because armed with that information you can make your presentation relevant to them. They will decide to buy your product or use your serve because it just makes sense to do so. Make it your goal to find out what your prospect is doing now before you tell them what they should be doing…

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Five ways you can increase your income

In Stephan Schiffman book, Telesales, he talks about the five ways you can increase your income. In my last blog I said that you needed to measure your dials, discussions, presentations, and number of sales.

Let’s say you track your calls and you have the following ratios. You make 15 dials in an hour, you typically have six discussions which result in three presentations and the final outcome is one sale. So how can you increase your income?

In theory you could double your income if you made twice the number of calls. But is this possible? It may surprise you that there are call management telemarketing dialers like our TeamMax and CallAssist tools that can double your productivity over manual dialling.

This is the main screen of the CallAssist Telemarketing Dialer.

Speaking to more decision-makers will also increase your income. By intelligently focusing your call backs, the time of the day you call people back, and using voice mail messaging strategically you can have discussions with more decision-makers.

Finding a way to have more decision-markers allow you to do presentations will also increase your sales. You could hone in on the “hooks” that make decision makers interested in learning more about your product or service. What makes anyone allow you to present to them? What catches their interest?

Now if your current ratio is one sale for every six discussions then if you could increase that ratio to say one sale for every five discussions that will increase your income. While that may not be as easy as it sounds if you can learn to close the presentation better maybe you can do this?

Finally you can increase your income by increasing the value of what you sell. That might be learning to promote the benefits of the advance edition of a product rather than defaulting to the standard edition all the time. Or maybe you can sell an extra product, an extended warranty or some other complementary service.

You don’t have to improve all five areas to increase your income but if you start monitoring your ratios and thinking about each of them you may be able to find some ways of gaining small increases which overall can significantly increase your outcomes.

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Ratios hour by hour

I stated in my last blog that telesales was a numbers game. But that isn’t really the whole story. In fact some experts would argue that selling is not a numbers game; it’s a ratios game. It’s about the ratio of dials you make to sales or appointments you set. The ratios tell you how productive you are and once you know your ratios you know how hard you need to work to achieve a desired result.

In Stephan Schiffman book, Telesales he talks about the five ways you can increase your income. We will look at these in the next blog but before you can do this you need to measure the following items: dials, discussions, presentations, and sales.

In this case a “dial” is the number of calls you make that get answered by someone. A “discussion” is when you have a conversation with someone who could actually buy the product or service from you. A “presentation” is what happens when you make a recommendation to a decision-maker and a “sale”, of course, is when someone buys your product or service.

It is a good idea to draw up columns with these headings on a piece of paper or in a notebook and then under the columns draw rows for each of the hours of your calling day. Now track your calls through the day with a tic mark in the appropriate column/hour. Do this for at least a few days if not a week or so. If you can, make it an on going habit to track these results.

One benefit of doing this is that you can see what hours during the day give you the best outcome. Do you see a recurring pattern? Are there certain times of the day where you have a higher number of presentations or sales? If so is it a reflection of the way you are working, or is it that the market you are calling has good and bad times to receive calls?

If you suspect you may not be performing so well at a certain time of the day think about ways to improve this. Perhaps recording your calls at different times of the day and then listening to them may give you some clues as to what needs changing.

Start tracking these statistics and in the next blog I will talk about how you can increase your income by knowing your ratios.

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