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It pays to use telemarketing.

One of the most mismanaged and neglected elements of many foundry marketing programs is telemarketing, used in our industry primarily to prequalify prospects.

Seldom do salespeople approach the practical aspects of telemarketing with much enthusiasm or confidence. They fail to recognize that it's an important marketing tool that can save much time and dramatically increase their productivity.

When it comes to market prospecting, most foundry salespeople are looking for a quick fix. Just send out a couple thousand brochures and wait for the inquiries to roll in. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way in our business. Literature that doesn't go into the round file usually ends up in the rectangular one with dozens of others.

This shotgun method really can't succeed in a buyer's market with competition as keen as it is. Once again, there is no way to do an effective marketing job without committing substantial time and money to the task. There is no substitute for sales effort--just ways to make it more productive. And that is where telemarketing comes into its own.

First, we must try to define our best prospects in highly specific terms. Companies and casting buyers. This takes a minimal amount of time, except for selecting the universe of prime prospects. One tip: involve as many people as possible in this selection process--salespeople, reps, your manufacturing people and top management. Draft a tentative outline of criteria for choosing prime prospects. And try to be as objective as possible in your selection.

Making Contact

Next is the initial contact phase, which introduces you and your foundry. This should be a good letter outlining your capabilities and including an effective, informative brochure on the foundry. Your initial contact is strictly informational and makes no bid for action. It should, however, stress that you will call the buyer in a week or so to answer questions and discuss his or her casting requirements.

Now we come to the essence of the telemarketing effort: a follow-up phone call to disqualify him or her as a good prospect or to set up an appointment. Here are three pitfalls to steer clear of in this program:

1--Don't send an obvious form letter. Since these are prime prospects, the letter should be typed and addressed to a specific individual--the casting buyers, not the purchasing agent in a larger company. Get accurate names and titles by phone. This job and preparing the letters can be assigned to anyone in the office or to someone on the outside.

2--Handle the follow-up phone calls personally. Don't assign this task to a secretary or an outside marketing organization--or even to a junior sales engineer. Remember, these are your prime prospects and the phone contact must be handled carefully if you don't want to risk being brushed off.

3--Send the letters out in small batches of 10 or 15 at one time, only as many as you can contact by phone in a week or so. Care should be taken to group each mailing within a reasonably tight geographic area so that when appointments are scheduled, they aren't scattered across a 600-mile radius. In the final analysis, the objective of your phone-qualification program will be to personally meet with your apparently best prospects.

If your salespeople are like most in our industry, they are verbal. And, they are a lot more comfortable talking with people than they are writing to them. Frequently, their writing does more harm than good. Now we have a real paradox. Our salespeople, whose strength lies in their verbal abilities, often freeze up when it comes to calling cold prospects on the phone.

The root of the problem has to be a fear of not being able to sell themselves over the phone, which takes experience and planning. It is not like calling on customers, where the ground is familiar, or face-to-face contact, where they can use their personality to advantage.

Fear of Rejection

If the real problem with your salespeople is fear of rejection, remind them that they are really gathering information to determine if the prospect is indeed a prospect. They are not selling anything, only exploring sales potential. More often than not, the buyer will indicate that he or she has adequate casting sources. This is the barrier that can be most intimidating, even for a seasoned professional. However, there are a few things they can do to make the right impression, obtain good information and ultimately get across the desk from the prospect:

* Learn as much about the company and its casting requirements as possible before making the call.

* Use a worksheet or checklist to present the story and get the information needed. Don't ask for information that is confidential or not readily available.

* Practice a presentation. Use role playing to train people. Plan calls carefully and have a strong opening statement to create interest.

* Stress self-confidence, but caution your people not to be overbearing.

* Tell your salespeople never to apologize for making the call. The hat-in-hand approach is no good.

Have your salespeople make plenty of notes during the phone conversation. After the phone call may be the best opportunity to do this, but try to have these notes as complete as possible.

No one ever said market prospecting for new casting business with telemarketing was easy. It's not. But an organized approach can make your efforts much more productive. And that's the bottom line. Telemarketing is a professional marketing technique that really pays off if it's done right.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:foundry marketing
Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Dec 1, 1994
Words:912
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