Telephone Selling

There are different types of telephone marketing:

  1. Cold Calling – Calling people without any prior contact. These may be phone numbers taken from a directory or list that is in the public domain; or has been purchased. The people may or may not be selected because they are considered to be a “target market” (eg. A list of people who have visited a homes show may be approached by a company selling home wares. The assumption is made that a higher than normal % are good prospects to buy home wares).
  2. Calling a Client Database – People are phoned, who have previously made contact with a business. They may have enquired about something; subscribed to a newsletter, or previously purchased something.   
  3. Following Up Specific Enquiries – People have made an enquiry about something and are being called back. They may be expecting a phone call. They may be expecting contact in some other way.

A higher % of people will be receptive to telephone marketing, if they have some prior contact with the organisation calling, or some degree of expectation about getting a call.
The chance of getting a sale will depend upon both how receptive the customer is, and how skilful the sales person is, in dealing with them.

Sometimes, telephone sales will use salesmen with relatively little training and poor sales skills. Their approach may be assertive; and the sales may be playing a numbers game – If you have a sales person with an assertive personality, making contact with a customer who has a submissive personality; there will be a certain % of phone calls that will result in a sale. The ethics of this approach may be questionable; but the profitability may be exploited by some.

Whatever type of phone selling is employed; the sales person will be more effective if they develop an ability to “read” the customer. There is little point persisting with a person who is becoming negative toward you. If the customer is obviously preoccupied with something else; it may be a bad idea to continue with a call. If a child is calling them, or they tell you they are about to have dinner; it is better to ask when it would be convenient to call back (even if they had asked you to call in the first place). Remember, the customer always comes first.

Some businesses use foreign call centres to undertake telephone marketing. This can be a way of making a lot more calls for a much lower cost; but it can also be bad presentation of your company’s image. If the sales person has a strong accent; at best they may be prejudged by the customer as not understanding their situation as well as someone local; and at worst, the accent may make it difficult for them to be properly understood.

People nevertheless may choose to buy over the phone; rather than any other way; if there is a good reason; for example:


  • The product may be conceived as simply not available in any way, shape or form though any other form of purchase.
  • The price may be so much better buying this way
  • Extra benefits might be available (eg. A longer warranty, bonus attachments to a machine, etc)
  • It may be available faster than waiting for supply through shops.

Phone sales may be made by referring people to complete a purchase online; or go to a shop and buy; but sales are more certain if a contract or agreement to purchase can be established while still on the phone. This means an offer to sell must be made; then that offer needs to be accepted in a way that some proof of acceptance is put in place; for example:

  •     Customer details are taken by the sales person
  •     Credit card details are taken for payment
  •     Delivery and billing is arranged, with terms of payment clearly arranged
  •     Payment may be agreed to be on ordering, on delivery, or at a certain point in time (eg. 30 days later)
  •     A deposit may or may not be taken on ordering

Apart from any legal obligation; most people will have a tendency to adhere to an agreement when terms and conditions have been made clear; and a sale agreed upon. If some or all monies involved, have changed hands, there will be a further reduced tendency to withdraw from the deal.

If the terms and conditions are perceived to be unclear by the customer; they may feel greater justification to withdraw from any agreement.