The reading level for this article is All Levels

The phrase “cold calling” sends chills down the spines of many businesspeople.  It’s often viewed as an intimidating, difficult, and boring process &ldots; and that means it doesn’t get done as often as it should.

However, outbound telemarketing campaigns are a great way to reach a group of targeted prospects or customers to communicate a message, gather feedback, and determine a next step for the relationship.

In many companies, sales reps should make hundreds or thousands of cold calls every month to set appointments and/or generate leads.  But busy reps usually prefer to work on closing their existing pipeline.  Prospecting often slips on the priority list; as a result, the sales pipeline isn’t always filled with new prospects.  

Specialize for better results

If cold calling is an effective way to introduce your company to new prospects, don’t ignore it.  Instead of forcing a sales team to devote time to prospecting, many companies use an in-house or outsourced telemarketing group to make a high volume of calls, find decisionmakers and qualify leads for the field sales group. 

When telemarketers handle prospecting, salespeople can spend 100% of their time selling and closing.  Your company can produce more revenue in the same amount of time; your reps earn more commission, they’re doing what they love, and they’re more satisfied with their jobs.

Forecast and budget; determine whether to build in-house or outsource

  • Estimate your call volume, then think about hours of operation, fluctuations in call volume, and the skill set you’ll need in your reps.
  • Your call volume also drives your headcount, software, phone system and the office space you’ll need.
  • These requirements will help you decide whether to use a vendor or hire and manage a team in-house.  If you look at vendors, the requirements will make your discussions easier and faster.
  • Budget for everything including headcount, software licenses, bonuses and management.

Develop good scripts

Reps will need to capture attention, build value, and close; a good script will help them do it consistently.  

  • Make your scripts conversational, simple, and focused on the end goal
  • It helps to make and listen to calls as you’re developing and refining your script.  What looks good on paper may not work on the phone.
  • Get feedback from your team as well. 

Train and coach your team

  • Regular coaching and quality assurance is crucial.
  • Engage your reps, role-play and guide them through calls.
  • Listen to calls regularly, evaluate your reps and coach them to improve their performance.
Make it fun!

Telemarketing is a tough job and turnover is a big issue. 

  • Make things fun with contests, events, and other incentives.
  • Make their space comfortable and interesting – tiny cubes, old chairs and windowless rooms don’t put a smile in anyone’s voice.

Report your results

  • Define the reports you’ll need — your system may not be able to provide all of the data, but you can probably find an alternate solution.
  • Use reports to consistently evaluate progress and improve your campaigns.

It’s all about execution, so manage your team and devote the resources necessary for success.  Contact us at 800-220-2412 or at and we’ll send you a free outsourcing tool to help you determine whether you should build your campaign in-house or hire an agency.

This Sales and Marketing Series article was written by James Sagar on 9/12/2006

James Sagar is one of the creators of the Marketing M.O., web-based software that delivers marketing strategy, guided best practices and interactive tools in 29 business marketing subjects. Entrepreneurs, consultants, executives and marketers use the Marketing M.O. to solve the hundreds of marketing challenges they face throughout the year. James also contributes to the “”Marketing Tips from the Trenches”” blog at