How to Negotiate with Telemarketing Companies

telemarketingTelemarketing generates over 100 billion in yearly sales in all different industries and according to the DMA, over 66 million men and women buy products and services from telemarketers. Even if you are just starting out with your business, telemarketing can help you gather the information you need to get started or grow your business.

One type of telemarketing, inbound calling, involves a team of people to receive calls. If you set up an ecommerce site, but also provide the option of your customers to purchase products via phone, this type of call center is what you need. An outbound call center is when representatives call potential customers or partners. If you want to solicit information, generate sales leads, or conduct a survey, this is the type you need.

If your business is at the point where you need to implement a push strategy, a call center might be a good place to start, depending on the costs that is.

  • Flat service. If you want just a basic team of representatives to call prospective customers and you provide a script and list to the company, the costs will be pretty straight-forward. Typically, telemarketing companies charge an hourly rate, or per-call charge. If your list is small see if you can be charged per-call. Get a detailed quote with rates included and see if there is a minimum rate as well.
  • Additional services. If you want more from the company (tracking reports, 800 number call-in, etc.), you will be able to negotiate costs by “bundling” a package. Reports are good because they show you if your specific campaign is working and provide you with a benchmark for future campaigns. An 800 number is good for the representatives to be able to leave a message. If you don’t have an 800 number for your business, the telemarketing company should be able to provide you with one.
  • Laws and regulations. If you do not have a list to use, you can purchase one. The telemarketing company might provide a list, or work with a mailing list company to provide you with a list that is suitable for your business. The company will not be able to call any numbers from the Do Not Call list. Make sure that the company is compliant with current US laws governing telemarketing- otherwise you may be responsible for penalties associated with breaking these rules.
  • Branding. You won’t be able to negotiate first impressions with your customers once they have them so make sure you work with the company to deliver the best “first impression” for your business. You might have to write the phone script and provide guidelines for the telemarketers (when to leave a message, how many times to try each customer, how long to stay on the phone) to follow. It may seem like more up-front work for you as a business owner and it oftentimes is. You’ll save time and money doing the phone call legwork while upholding your image.
  • Specialized agents. If you want to use an inbound call center for customer or technical support, expect to pay more for these dedicated agents. Sales, lead generation, order processing, and other functions can all be specifically negotiated, which usually ends up costing less overall.
Betsy Brottlund

Betsy Brottlund is the Director of Marketing at Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for entrepreneurs and business owners. Brottlund frequently contributes to several sites that offer tools and advice for business owners, including Dell and BizEquity. Previously a communications consultant, Brottlund has worked with start-ups to Fortune 500 companies managing their marketing and communication programs.